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Government innovation offices popping up

March 30, 2017

Government offices focused on innovation have been around for several years, yet some states and even the federal government are seeking new ways to incorporate the concept into their offices. This week the White House announced a new Office of American Innovation, while earlier this month Rhode Island used its Office of Innovation to launch a new effort called the  Government Innovation League, and in January Ohio’s governor proposed funding a new state office focused on innovation, emerging technologies and their job-creation potential.

In the official memorandum on the new office, President Donald Trump said it will “bring together the best ideas from government, the private sector, and other thought leaders to ensure that America is ready to solve today’s most intractable problems, and is positioned to meet tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. The office will focus on implementing policies and scaling proven private-sector models to spur job creation and innovation” and will be led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the senior advisor to the president.

At the state level, Rhode Island’s new effort has a slightly different focus, training mid-level state managers from different agencies across the state. Two innovators from 10 different state agencies will spend 20 percent of their time with the Office of Innovation over nine months, learning new approaches and tools to use in solving challenges within their agencies.

In January Ohio Gov. John Kasich proposed funding a new office, the Ohio Institute of Technology, led by a chief innovation officer. The office is intended to “ensure that our research and educational efforts are aligned with emerging technologies and their jobs-creation potential,” the governor stated in his budget highlights, where he noted that embracing innovation will keep the state economically competitive and ahead of others with emerging technologies.

The role of chief innovation officers in the federal government was reviewed in a series of articles by NextGov, which noted that many of the federal initiatives were begun under the Obama administration and faced an uncertain future. With the development of the new office, it appears the Trump administration is centralizing its initiative in innovation. The office is not clearly defined and how that plays out within the constraints of Trump’s budget blueprint is yet to be seen.

Ohio, Rhode Islandinnovation, white house