recommended reading

Timeline: Bold Ideas Well Applied Can Change the World

The tabulator revolutionized accounting.

The tabulator revolutionized accounting. // U.S. Census Bureau

What does the Interstate Highway System have in common with the Human Genome Project? More than one might think. They both were ambitious programs that changed the world. In the digital age, the network of roads funded by the Eisenhower administration may not seem like a world-changing endeavor. But by some calculations, it was the largest public works project since the Egyptian pyramids, and it provided the framework for America’s then-emerging superpower status. The DNA sequencing project promises to revolutionize medicine and our understanding of human development. What’s more, both programs were federally funded and conceived.

In this time of furloughs and fed-bashing, it’s easy to forget how powerful a good idea smartly implemented can be. A recent survey of federal employees found that fewer than 40 percent believe they work in a culture of innovation. That’s a shame, because government innovation and investment in promising technologies have fueled some of the nation’s most transformative initiatives.

We pulled together a few examples of how public investment of treasure -- and, in some cases, blood -- spurred great advancements. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but it hints at the breadth and depth of the nation’s debt to the men and women who aren’t afraid to think boldly and act smartly to improve the world around them.  

Kedar Pavgi contributed to this report. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.