recommended reading

Innovating in Government Is Harder Than It Looks

HieroGraphic/Shutterstock.com

Government today is not inherently built for innovation.

It can take months for a bright idea to turn into a procurement, which may take months or years depending on the size, scope and legalese of a project – and by that point, what was once a bright idea is relegated to old news.

Yet efforts in innovation exist across government, mostly due to the ingenuity of a few change agents who brave bureaucracy and take risks in an effort to improve mission.

“It became pretty apparent to us, the folks who wanted to deliver digital products and services to actual users that were simple, beautiful and easy to use – and to do this in easy, lean, agile ways – it’s something we’re not set up to do effectively in federal government,” said Lena Trudeau, Associate Commissioner for the General Services Administration’s Office of Strategic Innovation.

Trudeau, speaking at the American Council for Technology – Industry Advisory Council’s (ACTIAC’S) Management of Change conference Monday, said true innovation in government requires clear vision and dogged persistence. She cited 18F, GSA’s latest innovation hub, as a sort of exploratory effort in speeding up how the government goes about implementing technology.

“That fact that we innovate as much as we do speaks to a lot of the heavy lifting done by a lot of good people (across government),” Trudeau said.

Such change is tough.

Bajinder Paul, deputy associate administrator for GSA’s Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, likened his job as a government innovator to standing before a firing squad. Even when you partner with industry and seemingly do everything right, any sidestep or slowdown can merit significant criticism.  

“As a public servant, my job is to bring change,” Paul said. “There’s lots of bullets in my back and I’m still bleeding, but leaders have the opportunity to do that.”

Mike Howell, deputy program manager for the Information Sharing Environment, said true change managers are a rarity because change brings with it added risk. Even when the reward is high, risk deters many in government from trying. Examples like the HealthCare.gov rollout debacle gather headlines while positive innovative efforts receive less attention.

“I’m a student of change management, and innovation is inherently change – it brings risk,” Howell said. “I have met precious few competent change managers in the federal government. We teach people to manage money, we don’t teach people very well to manage organizational change.”

(Image via HieroGraphic/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion

Florida’s Concealed Carry Permit Holders Names Exposed

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

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

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

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