President Obama, long referred to as the "Internet president," has had no formal innovation agenda to back up the title - until now.
During a visit to New York's Hudson Valley Community College on Monday, Obama laid out a strategy for creating new jobs, businesses and industries through tapping the nation's innovative potential.
A white paper on the plan states,
"Since taking office, President Obama has taken historic steps to lay the foundation for the innovation economy of the future. The Obama Innovation Strategy builds on well over $100 billion of Recovery Act funds that support innovation, additional support for education, infrastructure and others in the Recovery Act and the President's Budget, and novel regulatory and executive order initiatives."
The strategy has three parts:
- Invest in the Building Blocks of American Innovation. We must first ensure that our economy is given all the necessary tools for successful innovation, from investments in research and development to the human, physical, and technological capital needed to perform that research and transfer those innovations.
- Promote Competitive Markets that Spur Productive Entrepreneurship. It is imperative to create a national environment ripe for entrepreneurship and risk taking that allows U.S. companies to be internationally competitive in a global exchange of ideas and innovation. Through competitive markets, innovations diffuse and scale appropriately across industries and globally.
- Catalyze Breakthroughs for National Priorities. There are certain sectors of exceptional national importance where the market is unlikely to produce the desirable outcomes on its own. These include developing alternative energy sources, reducing costs and improving lives with health IT, and manufacturing advanced vehicles. In these industries where markets may fail on their own, government can be part of the solution.
Federal innovation, listed under part no. 2, expands upon a memo issued Jan. 21 that called for a more open government bound by the tenets of transparency, collaboration and participation. A directive on steps agencies are to take to fulfill those principles is anticipated as early as this week:
Improve Public Sector Innovation and Support Community Innovation
Innovation must occur within all levels of society, including the government and civil society. The Obama Administration is committed to increasing the ability of government to promote and harness innovation. The Administration is encouraging departments and agencies to experiment with new technologies that have the potential to increase efficiency and reduce expenditures, such as cloud computing. The Federal government should take advantage of the expertise and insight of people both inside and outside the Federal government, use high-risk, high-reward policy tools such as prizes and challenges to solve tough problems, support the broad adoption of community solutions that work, and form high-impact collaborations with researchers, the private sector, and civil society.
- Make the government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. On his first day in office, the President signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, thereby placing government accountability and civic engagement at the forefront of the Administration's governing philosophy. The President's Memorandum urged agencies to promote three principles for bringing innovation to government: transparency, participation, and collaboration. Transparency promotes accountability by providing citizens with information about what their Government is doing. Public participation in decision-making strengthens democracy and ensures that Government makes policies with the benefit of information that is widely dispersed in society. Collaboration improves the effectiveness of Government by encouraging cooperation and knowledge-sharing within the Federal Government, across levels of Government and between the Government and private institutions.
- Promote Open Government. The Administration created the White House Open Government Initiative to coordinate Open Government policy, projects, and design technology platforms that foster openness across the Executive branch. The Initiative has achieved many important milestones, including:
- Publishing government data online to make it easy for anyone to remix and reuse, thus involving the American people in the development of public policy, Challenging thousands of Federal employees to propose ideas for slashing the time required to process veterans' disability benefits, Releasing information on Executive branch personnel and salaries, and Launching the IT dashboard, a one-stop clearinghouse of information that allows anyone with a web browser to track government spending on technology and hold the government accountable.
- Use innovation to improve government programs. President Obama is committed to using novel techniques and research support to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs. For example, the Recovery Act includes a $7 billion fund to incentivize innovative reforms in states' Unemployment Insurance programs. States that use the most recent wage data and commit to cover more groups of job seekers get rewarded with higher payments. Already 32 states have qualified, and of these 24 of them changed their laws to do so. Another example is support for patient-centered health research in the Recovery Act. This research will lead to higher quality and more effective ways to deliver healthcare. The results will stimulate action across the health system to incorporate these findings into programs.
- Commit White House Resources to scaling and promoting community innovations. The President created the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to grow the marketplace for community innovations and provide the technology and tools for greater civic participation to help tackle our nation's toughest problems. The office will build upon efforts across the agencies, such as the Department of Education's $650 million Invest in Innovation (i3) Fund, to create new models of Federal grant-making that focus on encouraging, testing and scaling the most promising ideas and programs. The office uses its convening power to coordinate and partner with citizens, philanthropists, and the private sector to create a supportive environment for onÂgoing innovations in communities. Part of the effort will include using innovative tools such as prizes and challenges. The President's Budget includes $50 million in seed capital for the nation's first Social Innovation Fund, which will identify the most promising, results-oriented non-profit programs and provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country.