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Gov 2.0 and Entrepreneurship: What’s That Got To Do With It?

Last Friday it was class time. At least symbolically. At the George Washington University the “Gov 2.0 Startup Lab” event was scheduled. Besides the mix of Social Media presenters, innovative Change Makers and Techies, it was time to infect the government with some great entrepreneurial spirit.

After a couple of individual presentations the first panel tackled the issue of SUSTAINABILITY and its challenges in the US government:

  • 80% of DC workforce leave enormous footprint by commuting to work everyday
  • DC should lead by example and reduce eco-footprint
  • Introduction of data driving performance is needed (reporting, accountability,transparency)
  • Sharing such data among agencies — very innovative
  • Interns drive innovation (objective outside view)
  • Future employees? Who are they, the Change Agents of the future?
  • Agencies have strict structures about how to do business (legacies) but not really how to attract new businesses, ideas, innovations, how to take ownership and so on (no structure in place for that)

Any solutions?

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. Even if it takes you an hour to get into the building (safety & security regulations) to do so. Collaboration brings new fresh perspective and embraces synergies needed to find new solutions.

Passion. It is not enough to enhance the drive to innovate. Execution is even more incredibly important in an Gov 2.0 work environment.

Responsibility with Duty. Governmental employees are agents for the US people. They are here to innovate, create and change for the good and better. Not for higher revenues, larger media coverage or bigger bonuses. They are the social entrepreneurs for their country.

So, whats next? Second panel.

Entrepreneurs, Venture Capitals and Governmental officials revisiting what’s out there:

Ohmygov.com, petrasolar.com (solar cells on municipality roofs), apps.gov (free to the gov’ as social media tools), dipity.com (free for gov’), cooliris.com (free for gov’), votizen.com (network for registered voters designed to make civic participation simple and meaningful), socrata.com (socializing government data).

Entrepreneurship. One of the most used words that ARE NOT associated with the government and its work. When you hear that Apple has an Application for that (“There is an app for that”) it usually implies that in the government “there is a form for that”. There is a grey zone that needs entrepreneurial spirit because governmental agencies lack collaboration to tackle large challenges together more effectively. Challenge.gov helps and leads by example. It illustrates several challenges and asks the public for help. Rewards are different prices and recognition.

Technology. Entrepreneurship in Government is really about “How to outsource or crowdsource capacity”. Like appsfordemocracy.org. The big challenge is how to get the public to participate in not so “sexy” issues, in particular the boring ones. Such as digitalizing large amounts of archives and piles of paper. And of course, technology. How do we – with technology – bring people together to do something? Again, examples: crowdflower.com. Could that work for the government?

Asset management. What happens to all the resources (assets) the government owns, whether is it technical equipment (PCs, cameras, hardware, software) or space (offices, land, etc.) when not in use? Could there be a model of lending or borrowing that would maximize the usage of such equipment and earn the government extra money?

So in the end you are guided into happy hour, drinks and networking. And thoughts. Thoughts about what could actually work in the government taken from private sector examples were entrepreneurial spirits run free and ideas hit the surface faster then a form can be filled out?

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