Government Technology

How Acting Like a Tech Entrepreneur Can Improve Government Services

January 2, 2013 By

Can government agencies create better technology by acting a little more like Silicon Valley startups? That’s the idea a handful of cities are running with -- one used by some of the nation’s hippest companies -- in an effort to build offerings that work better and reach citizens faster.

The thinking goes something like this: Release an admittedly unfinished piece of technology -- a new website or maybe a mobile application -- to the public, and let them test it and suggest improvements. Then, incorporate those suggestions into the product until it’s considered completely refined. The concept, encapsulated in the 2010 book “The Lean Startup” by tech entrepreneur Eric Ries, is common in the commercial technology industry, where companies routinely release prototype or “beta” versions of new products to test consumer reaction and work out bugs. Now the idea is gaining a surprisingly strong following in government.

3 Tips for Acting Like a Tech Entrepreneur

The city of Palo Alto, Calif., is stealing an idea from the commercial technology industry to improve services for its residents. In this video, city CIO Jonathan Reichental offers lessons learned from Palo Alto’s use of Lean Startup principles during several recent technology projects. The Lean Startup approach – which lets users test unfinished versions of new apps and websites – is routine in the commercial space. Now it’s catching on in government. 

One proponent is Jonathan Reichental, CIO of Palo Alto, the community at the heart of California’s technology industry. Reichental says his city needed a better way to keep up with demands for new technology, so he reached out to its decidedly geeky population. “In government, we’re really faced with a history of projects that take a long time and when they’re done aren’t close enough to our requirements,” he says. “We need to look at ways to move from idea to execution much faster.”

Palo Alto put Ries’ concept into action earlier this year to finish a long-running website redesign. Although the project was nearly done, a continuous cycle of internal changes kept the city from wrapping it up. “We could have spent another year making it perfect,” Reichental says. But instead, the city released the unfinished site side-by-side with its existing website, inviting users to try it and offer a critique. Citizens eagerly tested out the new site and offered their feedback, which was used to fine tune the project. Not only was the project finished much faster, he says, the final product worked better too.

View Full Story

| More


Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Cybersecurity in an "All-IP World" Are You Prepared?
In a recent survey conducted by Public CIO, over 125 respondents shared how they protect their environments from cyber threats and the challenges they see in an all-IP world. Read how your cybersecurity strategies and attitudes compare with your peers.
Maintain Your IT Budget with Consistent Compliance Practices
Between the demands of meeting federal IT compliance mandates, increasing cybersecurity threats, and ever-shrinking budgets, it’s not uncommon for routine maintenance tasks to slip among state and local government IT departments. If it’s been months, or even only days, since you have maintained your systems, your agency may not be prepared for a compliance audit—and that could have severe financial consequences. Regardless of your mission, consistent systems keep your data secure, your age
Best Practice Guide for Cloud and As-A-Service Procurements
While technology service options for government continue to evolve, procurement processes and policies have remained firmly rooted in practices that are no longer effective. This guide, built upon the collaborative work of state and local government and industry executives, outlines and explains the changes needed for more flexible and agile procurement processes.
View All

Featured Papers