Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion around bringing entrepreneurship to government.
Code for America has a great fellowship program that brings people from the tech world to work for 1 year with cities. The White House Presidential Innovation Fellows program serves a similar focus – matching small teams of outside entrepreneurs to solve government programs.
While I’m a fan of these programs, I do think there is an underlying belief in this outside entrepreneur model that the key to government innovation is outside talent and ideas. Outside ideas are important but I’d argue that many of the hurdles to government innovation isn’t a lack of new ideas but are often far less glamorous, but equally important – the difficulty of getting buy-in for new approaches, hard to change existing processes, and difficulty finding time to work on new initiatives.
Often, those ideas of change already exist in government – they just haven’t gathered attention and momentum. In my 6 years at DHS, that’s often how I felt – my co-workers and I had a lot of new ideas for technology and processes; but it was difficult to find the energy to move them forward.
That’s why I love the HHS Ignite program. It’s beauty is its simplicity. HHS employees can submit an idea for initial $10k seed funding on a project that can be completed within 6 months. With up to 8 project winners, this is a great way to see a number of upcoming projects but also a way to surface and support new ideas with the time necessary.
The beauty of government is that we already have millions of passionate public sector workers who want to innovate and solve new problems. As we look to solve new problems, let’s make sure we focus as much on fostering intrapreneurship as we do on outside entrepreneurship.
How is your agency fostering intrapreneurship?
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