We the Partnership

A new innovation agenda for government

By Lindsay Laferriere | July 13, 2021

The federal government has encountered significant challenges over the past 14 months, including a global pandemic, an economic recession and the need to quickly transition to remote work. In the face of these crises, federal agencies helped coordinate the fastest vaccine development process in history, provided critical business loans and relief funds to those financially impacted by the pandemic, quickly implemented new telework capabilities and more. A sense of crisis pushed agencies to innovate with great urgency, but they should not wait for the next emergency to do so again.

The Partnership’s Federal Innovation Council has developed an agenda to help federal leaders rethink and transform the way government operates and fulfills its mission. Each recommendation is rooted in insights from current federal innovators and focuses on proven ideas that work. Collectively, these principles constitute our vision for a more innovative, responsive and effective government.

  1. Focus on the customer. Government must gain the trust of those it serves by involving the public in the design and improvement of products and services. These efforts would enable government to provide a customer experience on par with leading private sector organizations.
  2. Build a talented, entrepreneurial federal workforce. Government should work to quickly recruit and retain top talent by investing in professional development, empowering civil servants to meet their mission requirements in new ways, and embracing a culture of experimentation and learning.
  3. Enable collaboration with public and private sector partners. Government should actively engage and collaborate with the public and private sectors to solve problems, bringing to bear the knowledge and expertise of each sector, increasing government’s capacity and creating space for new ideas.
  4. Inform decision-making, strategy and resource allocation through evidence: Government should use data to inform decision-making, including embracing learning and experimentation which is core to successful innovations.
  5. Lead in high-risk, high-reward research and development: Government should take calculated risks in research and development, such as allocating resources to projects that may not work—at times using experimental high-risk, high-reward models—to advance the public good and stimulate public and private sector action.
  6. Effectively use modern, agile technology: Government should continue to generate and use cutting-edge technology and modern development processes to meet the information technology needs of federal agencies and the American public.
  7. Efficiently purchase products and services to support mission delivery: Government must quickly acquire the products and services needed to meet its mission, while maximizing taxpayer dollars in contract spending.

For more than a year, we have witnessed the impact that government can have when it is forced to respond to the unexpected. Now is the moment for us to raise our expectations for what is possible and build on current progress to sustain an environment of improvement, innovation and impact for the public. Over the course of the next four months, we will delve into each of these principles, describing how leaders can implement them and making the case for change.

Sign up for the Federal Innovators Network to get involved with this work.


Lindsay Laferriere