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The value of Slack for government

How Slack enables agencies, contractors, citizens and partners to work together in one centralized, secure tool

Public-sector agencies and their partners face unprecedented challenges in response to Covid-19.

Shifting from traditional, in-person ways of working to remote and distributed virtual environments is forcing organizations to expedite their digital transformation and adopt modern technologies.

Public-sector leaders that enable their organizations to embrace change and adopt new tools will best meet public and constituent needs.

Governments ranging from large agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the United Kingdom’s (UK) Ministry of Justice to a dozen-person town staff use Slack as their new HQ for this new way of working.

“In the time it takes to use email or schedule a meeting, a group of people can gather in Slack to solve the problem.”

Head of Engineering, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

What is Slack?

Slack is the FedRAMP Moderate–authorized, and UK’s National Cyber Security Centre backed, channel-based messaging platform that provides governments and their partners with a secure, centralized digital HQ. Faster, better-organized and more secure than email, Slack is used by thousands of public-sector teams and their partners.

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Project kickoff 1/18, launching 4/5. See pinned items for project req...
Zoe Maxwell10:55 AM

Hi team! Pleast post any agenda items for our project alpha kickoff call in five minutes.

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Zoe Maxwell
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Last reply today at11:00 AM
Google CalendarAPP11:00 AM
5 minutes until next event
Project Alpha Kickoff
When:Monday, June 18, 2021 at 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Where:UX Room, 4th Floor
Guests:Zoe Maxwell, Arcadio Buendía & 3 more
Join Zoom meeting
Matt Brewer11:05 AM

Hey team - Please share your updates to the project tracker below by EOD today.

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  • It’s all happening in the channel

Follow along with everything related to individual topics, projects or teams in their dedicated channels.

  • History you can see and search

Projects end, teams change and Slack saves everything. Rather than trying to remember, easily find what you’re looking for.

  • Work closer, even remotely, as one team

Keep team members and partners in the loop by sharing a channel in Slack. Work moves faster when conversations do, too.

Slack is your new HQ

With an increase in remote work and dispersed teams, it is important that organizations provide employees with tools that can foster the types of collaboration and serendipitous innovation that usually results from in-person interaction.

Slack is positioned to be your organization’s virtual headquarters. It’s where people, tools, data and processes can come together to drive work forward.

Case Study: Department of Defense

“When 80 percent of the Pentagon’s workforce was mandated to work from home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Headquarters Service (WHS) Personnel Services Division (PSD) as well as most of the federal government was not prepared to onboard new employees remotely.”

The Defense Digital Service partnered with PSD and the Office of Personnel Management to train them on “how to digitize the onboarding process with modern PCs and software licenses for digital tools, such as Slack.”

A survey of Slack users conducted shortly after the shift to fully-remote work found that:

  • 31%

    increase in reported productivity

  • 45%

    saw a reduction in email

  • 21%

    reported fewer meetings

External Collaboration

Granular guest access

Every organization needs to work with people outside its walls. Slack enables agencies, contractors, citizens and partners to work toward your mission as one team, no matter where they sit. Workspace owners and admins can invite them as multi-channel or single-channel guests so they can access only the information they need.

A team using Slack within the Department of Defense sets up channels for each project (e.g., #prj-cybersecurity, #prj-website-refresh). The team invites supporting contractors to join as single-channel guests, providing them access to only the people and information they need to do the job and removing access when the period of performance ends.

Another federal agency invites citizens as guests to join designated Slack channels, providing a public forum for communication and collaboration around its mission.

“Slack allows us to put our customers first by breaking down the barriers across multiple organizations, agencies, contracts and systems.”

VA Engineering Team Lead

Slack Connect for government

Slack Connect is the most secure and productive way for organizations to communicate. Designed to replace email, it extends channel-based messaging to everyone you work with, inside and outside your organization. With Slack Connect, up to 20 separate organizations can work together in a single channel—bringing together groups of people, information and tools, all within Slack.

 

Slack verification for shared channel with outside org

Organizations can have peace of mind with built-in security, compliance, and visibility into external connections. All of Slack’s enterprise-grade security features and compliance standards extend to Slack Connect: retention, Enterprise Key Management (EKM), support for Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and e-discovery, and more. Slack’s organizational verification helps you guard against spam and phishing by connecting only to trusted parties.

List of organizations in Shared Channel

The General Services Administration’s (GSA) Technology Transformation Services (TTS) recommends Slack Connect as “the preferred method for collaborating” when external partners have their own Slack workspace.

Government contractors also use Slack Connect among themselves. When responding to a request for proposals (RFP), a federal consultancy establishes a shared channel with its subcontractor through Slack Connect. Proposal teams collaborate on the RFP response live, share documents securely, and bring in the right subject-matter experts to win the work.

Slack Connect opened the door for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), known to Boston-area commuters as the T, to work with outside partners. For example, the MBTA team created the #mbta-swiftly channel to work with Swiftly, the transit data platform, to provide bus arrival predictions to commuters.

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Ongoing Swiftly/MBTA sync to predict arrival times for commuters.
Shruti Vasa10:55 AM

Hey all. Just wanted to report that the majority of our bus inspectors have reported accurate arrival times for the last update.

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Jagdeep Das11:00 AM

We're also working on proactive outage resolutions on Swiftly's end.

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Last reply today at11:56 AM
Matt Brewer11:05 AM

Heads up: If you see an update request, please ignore it. We're re-sending with new instructions shortly.

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“It’s a really successful vendor integration. The level of collaboration we achieved would not have been possible in email.”

Deputy Director of Engineering for MBTA customer technology department

Platform

Slack brings all your tools into a single place, making it easier for teams to access and share information and deliver on their mission.

Most agencies do not use a single software suite, instead using multiple vendors across different corners of the organization. Slack allows you to mix and match as needed, but also unifies access. Whichever tools you already use or plan to use in the future, we want to improve your experience with them. With more than 2,300 apps in our App Directory, agencies can bring their tools into Slack, from productivity essentials like Office 365 and G Suite to specialized tools like Salesforce and Workday.

Ninety-five percent of Slack app users say that using apps in Slack makes the associated tools more valuable.

“Slack’s flexibility allows NASA JPL to access almost everything from one platform.”

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

NASA JPL’s key integrations used with Slack:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) uses Slack to keep space-age software development all in one place.

Civic tech

Government and contractor technology teams ship better digital products in less time by bringing tools, teammates and code together in Slack. For example, the VA relies on Slack to plan and execute large-scale initiatives, including an overhaul of VA.gov, which draws more than 800,000 veterans, their families, service organizations and other users each week.

Behind the scenes, the VA’s web and development teams work together in Slack channels to ensure that the website stays up and running.

Development teams use Slack to:

  • Connect apps and integrations, such as GitHub and Jenkins, so that teams have greater visibility into alerts and notifications
  • Quickly identify incidents and issues, including mobile notifications that alert developers of problems
  • Create communities of practice that exchange knowledge and create consistency across service offerings
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IC: Zoe Maxwell; SEV-1; In Progress
Zoe Maxwell10:55 AM

Thanks for the quick huddle, latency times are exceeding SLA

Zoe Maxwell
Arcadio Buendía
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Last reply today at11:00 AM
Shruti Vasa11:00 AM

Agreed, this is definitely a SEV-1. I pulled the latest graph showing the spikes so we can work on a solution. I've attached our runbook for data center incidents.

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Jira CloudAPP11:05 AM
FE-2704 Large database failure...
Status: In progress
Type: Bug
Zoe MaxwellAssignee:
Zoe Maxwell
Priority: High
Jagdeep Das11:10 AM

I believe this is the bug in question. I'm working on new fix that will resolve this.

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  • 53%

    of developers use Slack

  • 700K+

    daily active registered developers

 

In 2019 the VA’s web and development teams collaborated in Slack to re-launch VA.gov. The new website boasts an impressive 99.97% uptime over the past year, allowing the agency to deliver on its promise to connect thousands of veterans and advocates with the resources they need.

Security

Security is essential for many public-sector agencies and their partners. Slack is the secure and compliant platform that federal agencies trust as their digital HQ.

  • Slack provides enterprise-grade security for organizations of all sizes. That requires delivering a best-in-class collaboration experience while meeting our customers’ unique security and compliance needs.
  • Slack’s FedRAMP Moderate authorization confirms that Slack meets and exceeds some of the most broadly recognized security standards and offers solutions to help public-sector teams address compliance requirements.
  • Granular security features like guest access, retention policies, single sign-on, Slack Enterprise Key Management (Slack EKM), audit logs, and integrations with top data loss prevention providers allow public-sector organizations to tailor Slack to comply with unique government requirements like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Slack certifications and attestations 

ISO/IEC 27001 logoISO IEC 27017ISO IEC 27018 logoAICPA SOC 2 logoAICPA SOC 3 logoCloud Security Alliance logoFedRAMP Moderate logo

Slack supports customers’ compliance with 

HIPPA logoFINRA compliant logoGDPR logoData Residency logo

Conclusion

Today’s public-sector leaders—both within government and the partners that support them—face incredible pressure to deliver on their missions. Covid-19 accelerated their internal digital transformation at the exact same time that citizens’ and customers’ need for services spiked. Combine that with cybersecurity threats seeking to exploit the crisis and requirements for governments at all levels to coordinate with each other and partners to solve it, and you have an unprecedented public-sector technology challenge.

Slack is the FedRAMP Moderate–authorized platform that provides governments and their partners with a secure, centralized digital HQ. Faster, better-organized and more secure than email, Slack is used by public-sector teams ranging from U.S. embassy and military personnel across the globe to municipal transportation departments.

As you consider your options, think of what a single, secure collaboration platform that centralizes your tools and teams would mean for the customers and citizens you serve.

Footnotes

  1. ¹Taking the Oath of Office from Home Is the New Norma <https://dds.mil/media/blog/2020-11-taking-the-oath-of-office-from-home-is-the-new-normal>l
  2. https://slack.com/resources/why-use-slack/the-value-of-slack-for-software-developers
  3. https://slack.com/resources/why-use-slack/the-value-of-slack-for-software-developers

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