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Driving government innovation: Leadership from invention to impact

How can public service develop bold strategies to increase public value? Explore insights from the 2015 Public Sector for the Future Summit.


In June 2015, public service and thought leaders came together at Harvard University to explore how to drive government innovation from invention to impact. The 2015 Public Sector for the Future Summit showcased examples of innovation at work in public service: Building an agile workforce at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Embracing evidence-based government in Idaho and Washington. And identifying ways to use the sharing economy to increase government innovation.

In its full-length white paper, Leadership for a Networked World has distilled the key findings of this year’s summit. Explore the paper for inspirational examples and important insights that every public service leader can apply within their organization.



Leadership for a Networked World’s Public Sector Uptake and Edge Matrix empowers public service leaders to chart a course for government innovation.

The 2015 Public Sector for the Future Summit focused on advancing “uptake” reforms (proven programs that require robust leadership) and “edge” innovations (untested ideas with enormous potential).

The conference focused on four strategic areas where new operating models have the potential to spur government innovation: The optimized enterprise, the agile workforce, the evidence-based organization and the citizen-centric service.

Key Findings

The report summarizes presentations from the 2015 Public Sector for the Future Summit:

  • David Bray, the Chief Information Officer at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), discussed how he has overhauled the FCC’s legacy technology systems by cultivating change agents.

  • Officials from the Idaho State Tax Commission and Results Washington, the state’s performance management office, showcased their embrace of evidence-based government.

  • An analyst from the National League of Cities and two industry leaders described sharing economy platforms, leading to a discussion about strategies public service could adopt and adapt.



Using the Public Sector Uptake and Edge Matrix as an organizing framework, the report maps government innovation from “uptake” to “edge”:

  • The Optimized Enterprise—“Uptake” reforms start with consolidating common systems and services, while “edge” innovations could include growing a cross-sector-based portfolio of shared services.

  • The Agile Workforce—Running a baseline human capital assessment is an “uptake reform,” while enabling cross-agency knowledge and employee mobility represents an “edge” innovation.

  • The Evidence-Based Organization—“Uptake” reforms begin with tracking of inputs, outputs and performance metrics and reach “edge” innovations when a public service organization can harness evidence-based budgeting and predictive analytics.

  • The Citizen-Centric Service—Turning legacy and silo-based information into usable public data can be an “uptake” reform, while partnering on designing, building and delivering services represent an “edge” innovation for government.


While there is no “secret sauce” for effecting change, the report notes that presenters at the Summit shared a common enabler of success: They asked incisive questions when developing their strategies and mixed force and inclusion to implement their approach.

No leader will have all the answers—and few employees will follow someone who claims to have them—but a diverse and collaborative approach can help a public service organization grow.

"The goal of the annual Public Sector for the Future Summit is to develop a vision for the future of government."


Antonio Oftelie

Antonio Oftelie
Executive Director
Leadership for a Networked World and Public Sector Innovation Fellow, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard

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