Three Ways Federal Agencies Can do More with Less

The Trump Administration is ready to reduce waste, cut costs, and innovate in government. But are Federal agencies?

President Trump has called for a new White House Office of American Innovation (OAI) to bring together the best ideas from Government and the private sector in order to transform processes and spur innovation. Meanwhile, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney’s plans to rebuild government “starting from scratch,” and has instructed agencies to develop a plan by June 30 to “maximize employee performance.” Then by September 2017, agencies are to submit ideas for reorganizing programs to remove duplication and inefficiency

That means agencies need to start collecting, and developing, ideas – and fast.

Here are three ways the Federal workforce can align with the White House’s accountability and cost-cutting mandate, while continuing to successfully execute on their missions:

1) Look where technology has previously increased efficiency and budgetary savings:

Did you know that one of the greatest examples of government collaboration and innovation is the President’s Save Award? Over five years more than 100,000 ideas were shared through IdeaScale in this single project. In fact, with just two ideas the government saved more than $42M by the year 2014 while using IdeaScale technology.

In total 81 ideas implemented, $100s of millions of savings identified, and the deficit reduced from 9.2% to 4.1% That is one way to better adopt and leverage technology!

2) Adopt innovative practices to generate desired outcomes:

Agencies can learn from the U.S. Coast Guard, is who is already utilizing “design thinking” and “human-centered design” methodologies to power how the Coast Guard leads innovation.

To further continuous innovation at the Coast Guard, all members of the workforce are offered the opportunity to suggest solutions to enterprise challenges, provide ideas to make the Coast Guard better, and collaborate to develop innovative solutions.

The above methodologies then play a critical role in designing challenges and prototyping potential solutions generated by the workforce.

3) Employee empowerment and crowdsourcing:

According to a 2010 report by the National Performance Management Advisory Commission, “to make real improvements, organizational culture must also be addressed.” While culture change can’t be expected to occur overnight, especially in government, look at how the Food and Drug Administration is already improving processes with the help of an engaged workforce.

In 2014, FDA CDER launched a crowdsourced employee engagement initiative to increase the level of employee engagement in high-level decision making. CDER achieved an 80% participation rate from their engaged employees and gathered hundreds of ideas that improved internal CDER functions.

Similarly, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched their Employee Innovation Challenge to encourage VA employees to both share their ideas on how the department could be more efficient in performing its mandate and sustain employee engagement.

By giving employees at any level a simple way to submit, comment on, and vote for ideas 24/7, Federal agencies can source innovative ideas then select innovations for further development, evaluation and implementation to propel the next generation of government

Then the question becomes not will the return of innovation to the White House work, but instead, how great will the return on innovation be?

This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.

This post is by Tim Sussman, Director of Government Solutions at IdeaScale.

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