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Re-introducing Our Engineering Blog: Building an OS for the Progressive Movement

Shai Sachs

The progressive movement is a thriving ecosystem of political candidates, labor unions, interest groups, and grassroots activists. Together, these far-flung and energetic people have made history at the presidential level - twice! - in the space of 8 short years. They've brought down discriminatory barriers for LGBT individuals, guaranteed health insurance for every American, instituted major financial protections for consumers - and on and on. But how did they do it?  What makes this incredible movement tick?

At NGP VAN, we spend all day, every day, building the operating system for this powerful, vibrant movement.

Whether you're a PC or a Mac (or a different animal entirely), you know that an operating system is critical to the way you work. When you need to draft a memo, look something up online, or just play around with desktop backgrounds, the operating system is critical to what you do every day. It solves a hundred difficult problems - ranging from file storage and Internet connectivity, to image processing - so that the software applications you use don't need to. It's the platform which makes it possible to build great tools.

While progressives have achieved a lot in recent years, there is no question that there's plenty of work left to do; the to-do list ranges from campaign finance reform to bold action on climate change. To meet tomorrow's challenges, the progressive movement will need tools to mobilize a large and diverse group of supporters. And those tools will rely on an operating system that makes it easy to solve hundreds of difficult political problems.

  • Need to raise money? We've built a sophisticated suite of technologies that make it possible to comply with campaign-finance regulations for every imaginable kind of political entity, for a wide variety of jurisdictions.
  • Need to talk to voters face-to-face, and collect the data without resorting to paper-and-pencil?  We've built mobile apps for voter contact that make it easy for organizers to bring progressive campaigns right to a voter's doorstep.
  • Need to organize your volunteers efficiently? We figured out how to automate those emails and let organizers focus on making change.

Those are just a few components of the operating system we're building. Our goal is to make it easy for every progressive to take action and make change without worrying about the technical problems along the way.

Under the hood, there are all sorts of strange and fascinating problems. The scale of the data we manage is enormous. The timing constraints for our applications are very narrow. The reliability requirements, especially near the key dates in election and compliance calendars, are unyielding. But this work is thrilling, rewarding, educational - and a lot of fun. We're always striving to bring best-of-breed engineering techniques to bear on the problems of political data. We're excited to share those challenges with you, and to show you how we give progressive activists the tools they need to win the future.


Care to join us? We're always looking for talented engineers. We have challenging problems, incredible clients, and all the free snacks you want. Join our team at https://www.ngpvan.com/careers, today!

Topics: engineering