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VA's Innovation Competition Isn't New or Sexy, but It's What We're After

BY Matthew Burton | Thursday, September 24 2009

From the not-so-glamorous corner of government comes a positive sign that it is getting smarter about technology. The VA has launched an innovation competition for its employees, letting them submit ideas for improving the department's work. According to the press release, "The platform enables unprecedented levels of collaboration and comment, and even allowed participants to "vote" on the ideas they thought would have the greatest, far-reaching impact. The VA innovation competition will create a new channel for best ideas to rocket right to the attention of the President and Secretary Shinseki."

Wow!

Let's be straight: there is nothing amazing about this. This is the way things should be done, and many organizations have been running identical projects for years. But for government, this--adopting public ideas and technologies, quickly modifying them, and using them internally for a practical purpose--is new. And it's important. It's not flashy or sexy. But it is the definition of using IT to make government more effective and more efficient. All common sense, zero gimmickry. For those pushing the Gov2.0 cause, these are the projects they should be excited about, even though at first glance, there may be nothing exciting about them.