Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government: Technology and Innovation in the Next Administration

New report by Beth Simone Noveck and Stefaan Verhulst: “…With rates of trust in government at an all-time low, technology and innovation will be essential to achieve the next administration’s goals and to deliver services more effectively and efficiently. The next administration must prioritize using technology to improve governing and must develop plans to do so in the transition… This paper provides analysis and a set of concrete recommendations, both for the period of transition before the inauguration, and for the start of the next presidency, to encourage and sustain innovation in government. Leveraging the insights from the experts who participated in a day-long discussion, we endeavor to explain how government can improve its use of using digital technologies to create more effective policies, solve problems faster and deliver services more effectively at the federal, state and local levels….

The broad recommendations are:

  • Scale Data Driven Governance: Platforms such as data.gov represent initial steps in the direction of enabling data-driven governance. Much more can be done, however, to open-up data and for the agencies to become better consumers of data, to improve decision-making and scale up evidence-based governance. This includes better use of predictive analytics, more public engagement; and greater use of cutting-edge methods like machine learning.
  • Scale Collaborative Innovation: Collaborative innovation takes place when government and the public work together, thus widening the pool of expertise and knowledge brought to bear on public problems. The next administration can reach out more effectively, not just to the public at large, but to conduct targeted outreach to public officials and citizens who possess the most relevant skills or expertise for the problems at hand.
  • Promote a Culture of Innovation: Institutionalizing a culture of technology-enabled innovation will require embedding and institutionalizing innovation and technology skills more widely across the federal enterprise. For example, contracting, grants and personnel officials need to have a deeper understanding of how technology can help them do their jobs more efficiently, and more people need to be trained in human-centered design, gamification, data science, data visualization, crowdsourcing and other new ways of working.
  • Utilize Evidence-Based Innovation: In order to better direct government investments, leaders need a much better sense of what works and what doesn’t. The government spends billions on research in the private and university sectors, but very little experimenting with, testing, and evaluating its own programs. The next administration should continue developing an evidence-based approach to governance, including a greater use of methods like A/B testing (a method of comparing two versions of a webpage or app against each other to determine which one performs the best); establishing a clearinghouse for success and failure stories and best practices; and encouraging overseers to be more open to innovation.
  • Make Innovation a Priority in the Transition: The transition period represents a unique opportunity to seed the foundations for long-lasting change. By explicitly incorporating innovation into the structure, goals and activities of the transition teams, the next administration can get a fast start in implementing policy goals and improving government operations through innovation approaches….(More)”