How Philly is Bridging the Gap Between Gov & Innovation

On Tuesday April 8th, GovLoop hosted our third annual Government Innovators Virtual Summit. This year we focused on “Innovations that Matter” and how to make innovation stick at your agency. Read this recap of our session on a new open-source solution in Philadephia and head here for the full recordings. More blog coverage of the Summit can be found here.

When we think of innovation, we think of today’s tech giants like Apple, Google, Samsung.

But what if I told you that our government is in fact making huge strides to be able to use the word ‘innovation’ without anyone batting an eyelid? It’s happening, and while the rollout may be slower than we may expect as consumers who create midnight queues for whatever the latest gadget may be, it’s already underway.

At GovLoop’s 2014 Virtual Summit, I was able to listen in on the panel led by our favorite podcaster, Chris Dorobek, talking on the subject of “Bridging the Technology Gap at All Levels.” And what I heard there about innovation surprised me.

Government is pushing the technological envelope every day, and striving for more transparency in spending and procurement decisions. It’s almost a must. Consumers, tax-paying consumers, are more savvy than ever, and while we still crawl out of an economic recession, they’re also more wary of exactly where their tax-dollars are going.

Tim Wisniewski gave us the scoop on a system that the City of Philadelphia is using right now for making government contracting a much more collaborative platform between the city government and private sector business owners.

Big Ideas PHL is the platform, and it acts as a springboard for government agencies to post RFPs that local small business can bid on freely (pending proper registration and tight security measures, of course.) The types of contracts available are greatly varied, attracting a gamut of industries to the city government of Philadelphia.

An open system like this provides a common ground that will benefit both sides of the monetary equation here: The city government gets to publicize what services they need, potentially reaching far more businesses than they would via outdated conventional means, and get to pick and choose for exactly what they want in a contractor.

The businesses, on the other hand, get a similar deal: they get to peruse a wide range of government RFPs that they may not have even known existed prior to the existence of this platform, and can pick and choose what contracts to vie for.

The system is a step in the right direction. There is a third party that isn’t directly involved in the exchange the website promotes: the public. The site benefits the public not only to strengthen and broaden the local economy, but is also a step in being more transparent with government spending. A win-win-win.

Make sure to check out more coverage of the Virtual Summit here, and tell us in the comments: What are your tips for fostering government innovation?

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