Advancing towards the «Smart Government» in the United States

Today, I have been reading the report of the US Government Accountability Office (GAO-17-14). The focus is about how the US Federal Government is using Open Innovation strategies. Practices to engage citizens and effectively implement Federal initiatives. It is really very interesting, and very good news that I wanted to share in this post.

Some administrations are advancing more and more towards the Smart Government, the next step in public organizations after the Open Government stage. This 4th stage («Intelligent» –see stages in Table 1 below-) is specially linked to the concept of smart territories’ governance (neighborhood, village, city, etc) characterized by the public organizations’ full adoption of two key variables as paradigm: the Interoperability Principle and the Open Innovation (Jimenez et al., 2014).

Related to the Interoperability Principle (a very complex element but the true key in the back office within the electronic and digital government stages) during the last decade, it has become more and more the focus «to be achieved» for the US Government (see, for instance, about NIST, Image 1).

Image 1.- Interoperability and the US Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap requirements. Adapted from the US National Institute of Standards and TechnologY (2011).

But related to the Open Innovation paradigm (I have to add here the sentence «with the correct perspective») until now, very few steps have been done in this direction by public organizations. Nowadays, mainly some academic works and researches talk about it, but very few highlighting this factor and the right perspective within the pubic sector (I suggest you to read, for instance, «Living labs: Implementing open innovation in the public sector« from Dr. Mila Gasco -Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany-). But it is not usual that public administrations reporting what is being done, analyzing actions in this specific field. Reporting and including such information in an official view such as GAO-17-14 (I also suggest you to read this report) it allows other administrations to understand and learn about «what» and «how to» implementing and using Open Innovation practices in a strategic way (public policy).

Of course, interoperability continues being the key factor for Digital Government and, more and more governments are realizing about the importance of this element. Of course, efficiency and effectiveness -since the beginning-, as well as latest citizen-centric Open Government policies, are being important targets to be achieved from governments. But now, in addition, as shows GAO, also Open Innovation in a strategic and citizen-focused perspective starts to be highlighted. It also gives to citizens the important role that they can play in this area.

The US Government is talking about Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, Idea Generation, Open Data Collaboration, Open Dialogue, and Prize Competition or Challenge (see Image 2). Citizens are really being included as key actors also here. No doubts: we are witnesses of first steps towards the Smart Government stage. These are really very good news.

Image 2.- Descriptions of Open Innovation strategies used by US Federal Agencies. Source:US Government Accountability Office (2016).

Table 1.- Modernization phases in Public Organizations, and ICT Role. Source: Jimenez et al. (2014). Adapted from Gascó (2007).

Organization Modernization level ICT Role

1. Bureaucratic

Begin: The main target is increasing of effectiveness and efficiency in internal processes Automated Workflows (e-Administration)
2. Professional Middle: The focus of Public Management has been adopted (adding to the stage 1: also the view of citizen-oriented service, transparency…) Citizenship Interaction (e-Government).
3. Relational Advanced: Adopted the governance paradigm (adding to the stage 2: also the citizen participation in the governance processess) Key for transparency, accountability and collaboration (Open Government).
4. Intelligent Optimal: Adopted completely the stage 3, and the full Interoperability Principle (back and front office) and Open Innovation as tool.

Interconnected Ecosystem (Smart Government) for smart territories… neighborhood, village, city...

Best regards,


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