SAN FRANCISCO, CA---City Administrator Carmen Chu today announced the appointment of Cyd Harrell to serve as San Francisco’s Chief Digital Services Officer. Harrell is a 25-year industry veteran, user experience expert, and author specializing in civic technology. As the Chief Digital Services Officer, Harrell will oversee San Francisco Digital Services, a city agency focused on working with departments to improve public services and make them accessible online and easy to use for everyone.
“I'm thrilled to announce Cyd Harrell’s appointment as our next Director of Digital Services,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu. “Cyd’s wealth of experience in government technology and user-centered design will help us strengthen and transform how we connect services directly to people.”
The Chief Digital Services Officer position was first created by late Mayor Edwin M. Lee following the adoption of the San Francisco Digital Services Strategy in 2016. Starting next week, Harrell will replace former Chief Digital Services Officer Carrie Bishop, who held the position since 2017 and was the first person to do so. Since the office was created, Digital Services has worked to redesign City services related to critical public needs like affordable housing, economic recovery, and permitting and launched SF.gov, a one-stop shop website that serves the entire City with the highest accessibility standards. Content on SF.gov is easy to understand, ADA accessible, and translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino.
“San Francisco deserves public digital goods that reach the highest level of quality and that open up more ways for all of us to exercise rights, access services, and participate in community,” said Cyd Harrell. “As a user and fan of Digital Services’ work, especially their pandemic data and vaccine work, I’m incredibly honored to join the team and build the next stage of beautiful, inclusive services for San Franciscans together.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Digital Services team built over 250 information pages related to COVID on SF.gov, serving over 1 million users per month. The team worked rapidly to transition key City services, such as building permits, business permits, and grant applications, online so that operations could continue remotely. When the COVID vaccine first became available, they launched a vaccine finder showing real time appointments to help get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible.
Harrell brings over two decades of industry experience, including 10 years helping to make governments work better for people through the use of technology. Since 2012, Harrell has focused her career in public interest tech, working as Lead Researcher with the Center for Civic Design, Product Director for Code for America, and Chief of Staff of 18F, the internal technology and design consultancy of the federal government. Most recently, she served as Service Design Lead with the Judicial Council of California, helping to improve the user experience of the civil justice system especially for individuals without legal representation. She is the author of a 2020 book A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide, an onboarding guide for tech professionals joining public sector work. Harrell has lived in San Francisco since 1994.