Urenio Watch Watch: Collaborative Innovation

Open Innovator’s Toolkit

Aneesh Chopra, US first chief technology officer, released an “open innovator’s toolkit” that highlights twenty different case studies in how he, his staff and his fellow chief technology officers at federal agencies have been trying to stimulate innovation in government.

Rather than pursue traditional “top-down’ models to spur breakthroughs in these areas of national importance, President Obama emphasizes a “bottom-up’ philosophy that taps into the expertise of the American people. This philosophy of “open innovation’ has already delivered tangible results in each of these fields, and has surfaced new or improved policy tools deployed by our government to achieve them. We’ ve collected 20 leading practices that an “open innovator’ should consider when confronting any policy challenge ‘“ at any level of government. Our aspiration is to build upon this list, adding new tools and case studies to form an evidence base that will help to scale “open innovation’ across the public sector.

writes Chopra in the memorandum on open innovation that the White House released this week. Chopa also laid out four pillars in the administration’s approach to open innovation:

  • Moving beyond providing public sector data by request to publishing machine-readable open data by default
  • Engaging with the public not simply as a regulator but as “impatient convener”
  • Using prizes and competitions to achieve outcomes, not just procurements
  • Focusing on attracting talented people to government by allowing them to serve as “entrepreneurs-in-residence.’/li>

Open innovator’s toolkit case studies are organized into the following four categories:

Opening Data for Innovators and Entrepreneurs

#1: Data.gov Communities: a web-based catalog of existing government datasets that ‘“ when released in computer-friendly formats, could help to measure outcomes in a given sector; the goal is to catalyze a grassroots movement through the promotion of high-value data, challenges and prize opportunities, and relevant policy.

#2: Smart Disclosure: a regulatory approach that directs industry disclosure to be in computer-friendly formats simplifying re-use by the private sector; the goal is to emphasize the “re-use’ of information disclosure to fuel “apps’ or other new products and services.

#3: “MyData’ Download Service: a technical method for data holders to make it easier for individuals to have secure, timely, and computer-friendly access to their own information in human and computer-friendly form; the goal is to scale a simple, cost-effective method to liberate personal data that could seed new products or services powered by an “upload’ feature.

#4: 21st Century Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard: a website that shines light on decisions affecting 21st century infrastructure projects, including goals for turnaround times at critical milestones, results data, and the designation of an accountable senior official, especially in circumstances when private sector capital is driving the project.

#5: “What Works’ Clearinghouse: a web-based catalog of projects, including data, cost-benefit analyses, evaluation studies, and related content to assist regulators at all levels of government when evaluating capital projects, with emphasis on accelerating what works and minimizing the need for duplicative analysis.

Acting as “Impatient Convener’

#6: Standards Engagement Principles: the adoption of a set of guiding principles to engage in a convening role together with private sector standardization organizations to address a national priority; the goal is to engage the private sector early when identifying technology, regulatory, and/or procurement objectives in priority areas.

#7: Policy Principles: the adoption of a set of guiding principles or “rules of the road’ that government can apply when undertaking specific regulatory actions or when confronting emerging technologies for which the regulatory framework is less specified.

#8: Private Sector Open Innovation Showcase: a venue to shine light on innovative new or improved products and services fueled, in part, by open government data; goal to motivate participation ‘“ demonstrating apps or committing to take action ‘“ by a date certain.

#9: 21st Century Infrastructure Design: a blueprint for modern infrastructure balancing the potential of frontier technologies with what is achievable with active public sector leadership; goal to attract leading industry CTOs, academics, policy makers, and other stakeholders to define desired features of modern infrastructure, and assess policy tools to achieve them.

Initiating Prizes, Challenges and Competitions

#10: “Race to the Top’ Competition: an incentive program that compels the adoption of “best practice’ policies as a condition to compete for funding; the goal is to unlock policy barriers to innovation absent explicit legislative mandate.

#11: Staged Innovation Funds: an open solicitation for partners from the private sector, entrepreneurs, NGOs and academia to propose solutions that have the potential to scale in solving global development challenges with funding contingent upon achieving key milestones at each stage (proof of concept, testing/validation, replication and scaling); the goal is to maximize taxpayer investment by “failing fast’ if necessary and scaling only with evidence.

#12: Inducement Prizes: an approach that invites many, or a crowd, to serve as a source of novel solutions to mission-critical problems from innovators, entrepreneurs, and citizen solvers by offering cash prizes and targeted non-monetary incentives; the goal is to reap the benefit of disruptive innovation by increasing the number and diversity of minds tackling the problem, articulating a goal without selecting the team or approach most likely to succeed, and paying only for results.

#13: Private Sector Open Innovation Challenge: a venue to increase engagement in private sector-sponsored challenges linked to open government data; the goal is to inspire greater participation among leading private sector firms and to increase the success rate of such challenges.

#14: “All Hands on Deck’ Challenge: a “21st Century’ application of the bully-pulpit to call for public or private sector action in furtherance of a policy priority; the goal is to leverage senior leader “announcements’ to spur voluntary commitments.

#15: Government Application Platform: an acquisition model that leverages open programming interfaces to shift payment from the best written RFP responses to the most effective prototypes that actually work; the goal is to dramatically simplify procurement, expand participation, and save taxpayer funds by paying for results.

Attracting Top Talent at the Intersection of Technology and Policy

#16: “Top Talent’ Flexible Recruitment: explicit authority to hire world-class specialists to initiate mission-driven innovation activity by defining frontier problems and stretch goals for innovators and entrepreneurs; agencies; the goal is to authorize hiring outside of the traditional recruitment channels and empower them to convene expert workshops to pressure-test assumptions.

#17: Entrepreneurs-in-Residence: a time-limited recruitment of world-class entrepreneurs and innovators to join highly-qualified internal employees in the development of new operational procedures in areas that impact innovation; the goal is to deliver transformational change by combining the best internal and external talent in testing, validating and scaling what works.

#18: “Lean Government Startup’ Teams: A team empowered to use hypothesis-driven, incremental steps with “build, measure, learn’ feedback loops; the goal is to “fail fast,’ when prototyping solutions that meet user needs and capture data from user experience, leading to the scale-up of only the strongest ideas.

#19: “Second Shot’ Review Rebuttal: A mechanism to increase peer review quality and program manager effectiveness by enabling proposers to respond to specific review comments before final award selection; the goal is to allow for symmetrical information sharing between applicants and decision-makers to improve understanding of technology risk, increase transparency, and promote better decision-making on part of the government.

#20: Innovator Recognition Awards: an approach by senior leadership to promote and encourage a culture of innovation; the goal is to motivate career civil servants that often see more “downside’ and less “upside’ to collaborate with the private or non-profit sectors on a new idea not explicitly directed in statute or executive action.

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