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To solve our biggest problems, our government needs to be agile, effective and constantly improving to meet the moment. Federal leaders need to create workplaces with strong cultures of experimentation and provide their teams with the opportunity to innovate.

However, recent Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® data shows that roughly 64% of public servants feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing their jobs—more than 12 points lower than private sector employees. 

We work to reverse this trend by conducting research, building community, and engaging with critical stakeholders across the ecosystem to help agencies find new and creative ways to achieve their missions. 

Innovation Toolkit

Federal innovators use tools and techniques that help agencies more effectively serve the public. The highlighted resources below outline successful and promising innovation practices for federal employees who seek to change how their organizations operate. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m new to to innovation, where do I get started?

Welcome—we’re excited for you to join the federal innovation community. To get started, we recommend that you read these resources which explore innovation in government:

To connect with innovators across government and participate in events, join the Federal Innovators Network.

How can I be innovative within acquisitions?

Acquisition is often identified as a barrier to innovation, but there is great work happening across government to innovate within acquisitions.

Organizations like the Procurement Innovation Lab at the Department of Homeland Security are providing training and support for innovation within the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Check out their work here.

The Periodic Table of Acquisition Innovation is a government-wide innovation knowledge management tool to identify innovations across the federal acquisition environment. You can view the periodic table here.

Where can I learn more about customer experience approaches?

Designing products and services around the needs of customers and end-users is a critical piece of a responsive and effective government.

If you’re looking to learn more about approaches your organization can take to improve customer experience, use this “CX Cookbook” published by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Partnership has extensive resources on customer experience and profiles for each of the high-impact service providers here.

I need to acquire talent, where can I get started?

An organization’s employees are its greatest asset and resource for change.

Fellowships are a great source of talent for innovative, entrepreneurial and technical experts. You can find a list of federal fellowships here. The Partnership also hosted an event to discuss which talent acquisition tools could be used to address pressing needs amid COVID-19 response. You can view the resource developed from that event here.

I’m having trouble getting my idea approved by my organization’s legal counsel, how can I change my approach?

Building a strong relationship with legal counsel in your organization can enable innovation. The Federal Innovation Council, with input from lawyers across government, created a guide for building relationships between lawyers and clients that will help facilitate innovation.

Where can I find out more information about public-private partnerships?

By establishing strong cross-sector partnerships, government organizations can accelerate and expand their impact. In summer 2020, the Partnership and the Federal Innovation Council hosted a virtual event showcasing successful public-private partnerships across government and what agency leaders should do to set up new partnerships. For a recap of the event and actionable next steps, read this blog.

I’m starting a software development project, what resources are out there to guide me?

Despite recent progress, government continues to struggle in fully leveraging new technology. 18-F recently released a de-risking guide to help federal employees address some of the outdated practices associated with software development.

Agile has become a buzzword when talking about all types of technology and it is often difficult to know if an organization is truly using agile development approaches. The Defense Innovation Board developed a guide to help and GAO put together a video series explaining agile in plain terms.

10 Organizational Characteristics that Foster Federal Innovation

Based on research and consultation with a wide range of experts, the Partnership for Public Service and Slalom Consulting identified 10 characteristics that are critical to building a workplace that fosters creative problem-solving and improves institutional performance. 

Lightbulb illuminated

Prioritize innovation through leadership support

Paint and palette

Empower employees to be creative

Lock opened up

Remove barriers to effectiveness

Pair of Dice

Make small bets on new ideas, iterate and learn from failure

Square scaled to a different size

Scale successful initiatives and projects

Lighthouse shining out the side

Value external expertise, creative thinking and diversity of thought

Two speech bubbles

Center on the customer experience

Puzzle pieces being put together

Align innovative efforts with strategic goals


Demonstrate strong business practices

Create a culture of change


Thumbnail for Risk and Reward: A Framework for Federal Innovation

From curing diseases to helping launch the internet, the federal government has a history of innovation that has improved the lives of Americans and advanced societal interests. Despite this legacy, outdated systems, rules and processes hinder innovation at a time when government must grapple with a wide array of critical and complex 21st-century challenges.

Thumbnail for How to Build an Effective Lawyer-Client Relationship to Foster Innovation

Creating a productive working relationship between lawyers and innovators can be a key ingredient to the success of new innovations. This guide provides lawyers and clients with guiding questions and tenets to forge a strong relationship.

Thumbnail for Federal Government Fellowship Guide

Fellowship programs can be a key source of talent for innovative and entrepreneurial individuals with technical expertise. This guide highlights some of the fellowship programs well aligned with federal innovation efforts.

Thumbnail for Talent Acquisition Quick Tips

Amid the response to COVID-19, federal agencies are moving quickly to fill the jobs needed to address new and emerging challenges. In Spring 2020, the Partnership hosted two recruiting and hiring sessions to support agencies as they sought to rapidly fill mission critical roles. This guide captures strategies and insights shared by experts at those sessions—many of which are relevant to hiring amid the pandemic and in normal operations.

Thumbnail for Innovation
Innovation To solve our biggest problems, our government needs to be agile, effective and constantly improving to meet the moment. Federal leaders need to create workplaces with strong cultures of experimentation and provide their teams with the opportunity to innovate. However, recent Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® data shows that roughly 64%…

Innovation Research Reports

Thumbnail for Collaborate to Innovate: Four Pillars of Federal Procurement Transformation
To tackle complex societal challenges and better serve the public, government agencies must collaborate internally, across agencies, with the public and with industry to take advantage of diverse expertise as well as the lived experience of the people they serve. We steadfastly believe a commitment to collaboration is foundational for significant and sustainable change. The agencies we profile here are proving that collaboration can transform procurement, and procurement innovation can lead to more equitable, effective digital government service delivery.
Thumbnail for Building a Culture of Innovation in Government  
Building a Culture of Innovation in Government  
A vision for the future and ideas for how to get there
In collaboration with the Federal Innovation Council, we created a vision for how to build and foster a culture of innovation over the next two decades. This brief focuses on four main areas: Leadership, the workforce, the culture-building process and partnerships, all of which are integral to creating an innovative culture. The brief also addresses how to measure progress and involve key stakeholders, and it offers options for getting started.
Thumbnail for Bright Spots: Federal Success Stories from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid a global pandemic, federal agencies have continued to deliver critical services to the American public. For a deeper look at how our government has forged innovative solutions to address the COVID-19 crisis, read our “bright spots” case studies.

Gov21: The 21st Century Government Innovation Program

Federal leaders must make strategic decisions, design and implement creative solutions, and navigate the federal system to make an impact at their agencies. The 21st Century Government Innovation Program, or Gov21,helps these leaders develop innovative approaches to solving our biggest challenges and making government work better.  


Federal Innovation Council

The Federal Innovation Council is a volunteer advisory organization of federal experts who are committed to fostering innovation in government. We collaborate with the council to overcome barriers to federal innovation, highlight positive examples of innovation in government, help the next generation of federal leaders find creative solutions to pressing problems and forge a more innovative federal culture. 


Modern Government Leaders

This initiative convenes senior executives and rising leaders, those who conduct transformative work, to connect with their peers and recognize their impact on our federal government. The program highlights the combination of leadership best practices and modern ways of working that empower government to deliver equitable and impactful services.


Our Experts

Header photo credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)