Government as Innovator

Take a look at a just published NYTimes letter from an old friend
(reprinted for your convenience here)

Re “Can Government Till the Fields of Innovation?” (Unboxed, June 21), which examined national efforts around the world to turn ideas into products and services:

The United States government, far from just “wading into” innovation today, has a tradition of great success in its own laboratories.

I was at the National Bureau of Standards in the early 1950s, where we designed and built SEAC, or the Standards Electronic Automatic Computer. It set into motion ideas leading to today’s computer industry. The National Institutes of Health also performs public-domain research in addition to supporting innovation.

History shows that an important way for government to encourage innovation is for government employees to do research themselves.

Russell A. Kirsch

Portland, Ore., June 22

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Cool note. Government has a history of innovation from the Internet to GPS. We need to continue to foster innovations both in our government laboratories and across agencies.