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How agencies can drive innovation

What: “Enabling Customer-Driven Innovation in the Federal Government,” a report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Why: Governments must deliver innovative services to meet citizens' rising digital expectations and to maintain relevance and trust.

Findings: ITIF’s report lays out a number of recommendations for driving innovation in the federal government that cover leadership and agency culture; resources, tools and best practices; metrics and incentives; financing; oversight and review; and procurement practices.

Much of what needs changing, according to ITIF, is the culture around innovation in the federal government. The current culture can be changed by introducing a chief innovation officer role to the White House, implementing skunk works in more agencies, and even exempting a few agencies from civil service and procurement regulations for a three-year test period.

In order for innovation to happen, though, agencies must be expected to experiment and innovate. ITIF suggests that agencies add innovative practices to their strategic plans, create a list of processes that could be helped with innovation, make it easier for employees to suggest ideas and add a question on innovation to agencies' annual employee surveys.

It won’t be enough to mandate agencies “go forth and innovate.” There must be resources on which the agencies can draw. Both the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration could play leading roles, ITIF argues, by creating  innovation toolkits that explain the scope of what agencies can and cannot do to encourage innovation and establishing communities of practice. 

To fund innovation projects, ITIF suggests Congress allow a small portion of an agency's budget go toward innovative projects and allow more shared savings partnerships with the private sector.

Read all of the recommendations here.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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