Gov21 | The 21st Century Government Innovation Program

Application closed

As the federal government continues to expand telework options and encourages more employees to stay home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to supporting our nation’s civil servants. To help you continue to achieve your agency’s mission and grow your skills, we have converted many of our in-person offerings to virtual training and development. Pending the situation as our program nears, we will adjust the delivery of Gov21 to virtual if in-person events remain inadvisable during each of our sessions. For more information contact Diana Starkes at [email protected].

Update: All three sessions for the spring 2022 cohort will be held in person.

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Quick Details


Spring Cohort:
February–April 2022




GS-14 to GS-15 federal employees

Washington, D.C. (in person)

Program Details PDF


For more information, contact Diana Starkes at [email protected] or call (202) 292‑1014.

Every day, leaders in the federal government must make strategic decisions; they need to decide which problems to tackle and in what order, how to monitor progress and whether to make changes, how to engage stakeholders, and how to implement new policies. To pursue their agencies’ mission in an increasingly complex environment, they must operate more efficiently, effectively and innovatively. It is critical for 21st-century government leaders to develop new skills and deepen their understanding of how to navigate within our current federal system.

The 21st Century Government Innovation Program is designed to meet the evolving needs of federal agency leaders by providing them with new tools for effective government; empowering them to make effective, data-driven decisions; and developing new relationships with other government leaders who share a passion for making government work better.

As a result of the Gov21 program, participants will:

  • Use design thinking to strategize, solve problems and develop new initiatives. Practice framing a problem to identify the root cause and discover practices that support testing, experimentation and innovation.
  • Use science and data to streamline activities. Learn how to improve program design and operations using insights from behavioral science. Explore ways to use evidence to make decisions and inform strategy and resource allocation.
  • Take full advantage of resources to do better and act faster. Explore resources to foster innovative practices and hear from experts in fields such as prizes & challenges, public-private partnerships, innovative administration and more to learn about modern methods for getting things done.
  • Learn how to facilitate effective meetings. Develop skills to facilitate productive meetings and create a culture of active participation and learning that encourages focus, energy and enthusiasm.

You show up every day and help carry out the mission of your agency. You work behind the scenes and you do not seek attention. You are a public servant, working for the American people. You get things done, but you know that there is progress to be made. You’ve seen the same problems present themselves over and over. You feel government still lives in the 20th Century. Last Century.

You know there are new and better ways to do the work of government. Ways that emphasize agility and impact. Ways that utilize the unique skill sets and perspectives of career federal employees. Ways to make government operate in a way that is… modern. Like this Century. The 21st Century. This is for you.

“Gov21 has reinvigorated my spirit and passion for the work I do. It opened my eyes to a whole new world and perspective of looking at challenges my agency faces…The knowledge shared during the program has afforded me the chance to really dig deep and try some new innovative approaches that will not only help us but will also help our customers.”

—Former participant

How to Apply

We have high standards for our participants. We will evaluate applications based on numerous criteria to ensure that individuals selected for the program have an interest in improving office culture for their staff and their stakeholders, growing professionally, discovering new methods and tools to operate more effectively and efficiently, and meeting fellow trail blazers. This training is geared toward GS-14s and GS-15s, although we may accept a small number of high-performing GS-12s and GS-13s. While we aim to have a cohort of roughly 30 participants, we will be able to accept no more than 35.

Applications must include personal information, responses to short-answer questions and permission from your supervisor to participate in the program. Carefully consider short-answer responses to ensure your government career objectives align with the high expectations of Gov21 participants. We will carefully curate the cohort, looking for participants who are willing to show up and attend all sessions, commit to learning and active participation, and want to use their federal job for good.

Please note, many agencies have specific application guidelines for their employees. Before submitting your application, please make sure that you are following your agency’s internal guidelines and that you have permission from your agency’s leadership to participate in this program.

Application closed

Program Structure

Led by facilitator Virginia Hamilton, the Gov21 program consists of three sessions (three two-day sessions each for a total of six full days) held at the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C. During these sessions, participants will engage with experts and each other to gain exposure to modern ways of solving government problems and begin to address a self-selected problem. Participants will learn government management practices, tools and skills as well as hear from experts in the federal government and receive feedback on a specific problem or project. By the end of the program, participants will have gained a deeper understanding of problem identification, acquired useful tools and methods, and tested potential solutions to address their problem.

Past Speakers Include:

Virginia Hamilton, Strategic Advisor, Partnership for Public Service; Former Innovation Council Chair, DOL (Program Facilitator)

Dan Correa, Strategic Advisor for Government Innovation, Partnership for Public Service; Fellow and Director, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University; Former Assistant Director for Innovation Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Josh Marcuse, Former Executive Director, Defense Innovation Board; Co-Founder, Federal Innovators Network

Arianne Miller, Managing Director, The Lab at OPM

Sandeep Patel, Director, BARDA Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe); Former Open Innovation Manager, HHS

Morgan Evans, Founder, Business Casual LLC

Samia Amin, Director, Workforce Development, American Institutes for Research

Jenn Gustetic, Director, Early Stage Innovations and Partnerships, NASA

Jim Thompson, Director for Private Sector Engagement, Department of State

Kumar Garg, Former Assistant Director for Learning and Innovation, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Amira Boland, Lead, Federal Customer Experience, OMB; Former Deputy Director, Office of Evaluation Sciences, GSA

Alexis Bonnell, Former Chief Innovation Officer, USAID

Chike Aguh, Chief Innovation Officer, Department of Labor

Spring 2022

SESSION 1 Innovation Foundations (in person)

February 24–25

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

SESSION 2 Government by Design (in person)

March 24–25

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

SESSION 3 Make Fast, Take Action (in person)

April 21–22

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

Summer 2022

SESSION 1 Innovation Foundations (virtual)

June 22–24

12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

SESSION 2 Government by Design (virtual)

July 20–22

12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

SESSION 3 Make Fast, Take Action (virtual)

August 17–19

12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

Fall 2022

SESSION 1 Innovation Foundations (in person)

October 13–14

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

SESSION 2 Government by Design (in person)

November 3–4

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

SESSION 3 Make Fast, Take Action (in person)

December 12

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

“Gov21 was the leadership course I didn’t know I needed until I took it.”

—Former participant

“I am leaving the program with tools that I can immediately use in my workplace. They are valuable and timely.”

—Former participant

“This program has clear benefits for all USG employees, regardless of agency or line of work.”

—Former participant

Instructor and Staff

Virginia Hamilton

In early 2019, Virginia Hamilton joined the Partnership as a strategic advisor based in California to improve cross-sector collaboration among federal, state, local governments and the nonprofit and business sectors in disaster preparedness. She now teaches Gov21 for the Partnership three times a year.

Virginia previously worked at the American Institutes for Research, where she used design thinking to improve public policy and program design. She also previously served as the regional administrator for the Department of Labor based in the Bay Area, where she oversaw workforce and unemployment insurance programs across eight states and four territories. She also supported the secretary’s office on issues of employee engagement and innovation, and spearheaded the Customer Centered Design Initiative, which trained more than 2,000 workforce development professionals in human-centered design.  

Over the years, she has worked with leadership in organizations to teach them how to collaborate, build partnerships, have important conversations, send the right messages and get things done. She has been focused on practicing and teaching process skills and design thinking for the last 15 years. Virginia has spent her career in nonprofits and as a public servant with the mission of making government work better for vulnerable populations.


Members of the Partnership staff will work with you throughout the Gov21 program to ensure that your experience goes smoothly.