A design start-up within the General Services Administration, an agency that supports other parts of the US government, has begun using a bot named “Mrs. Landingham” to orient new employees. The bot, which works within the messaging app Slack, is named after Dolores Landingham, the president’s longtime secretary (played by the late Kathryn Joosten) on ”The West Wing.”
In a blog post published Tuesday, 18F, a technology consultancy housed within GSA, explained how their team began using Mrs. Landingham the Slack bot. The group has introduced several new products—all open source—over the past few months to help with onboarding new employees, but they note the most successful has been the “West Wing” bot. The Slack bot is designed to send messages and reminders to new hires with information about forms, discussions, and the ever-present government jargon.
The team chose to use the Slack bot because it “feels more fun” and would allow automated messages to be sent out gradually “so that new hires were not overwhelmed.” But the most important characteristic of this bot is clearly the name.
“Something felt right about bringing back the beloved character Dolores Landingham, who served as fictional President Bartlett’s wise and sometimes ornery secretary, to guide new employees through the turbulent waters of onboarding,” 18F’s Jessie Young wrote in a blog post.
And since the code is open source, the bot is available to everyone. Mrs. Landingham would be so pleased.