Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Will the Chief Innovation Officer Transform Government?

Image by iStockphoto.com
1 of 4



January 31, 2013 By

Move over, chief information officers. There is a new CIO in town. From Riverside, Calif., to Kansas City, Mo., and from Louisville, Ky., to Massachusetts, states and municipalities are hiring chief innovation officers. 

Yet while several municipalities and states are creating these positions, the job description, scope of work and relationship to tech projects vary widely. Some job descriptions sound like economic development agency executives, charged with promoting job growth and luring businesses to the community. Other municipalities, like San Francisco, place a strong emphasis on transparency and open data initiatives. Philadelphia’s chief innovation officer position encompasses the chief information officer role, internal business process transformation and startup tech business support.

Jayson White, who works at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School, has helped several cities create innovation positions. When the concept first started taking hold in 2008, the focus was on education reform and sustainability, he said. But once the recession hit, that focus changed to how to deal with budget cutting, economic development and job creation. “They didn’t want to just manage decline but start an upward spiral,” said White, project manager of the Urban Policy Advisory Group, which leads a dialog among chiefs of staff and senior policy advisers to mayors in the 35 largest cities across the country.

One trend cities and states are targeting is better ways to use technology. “You see cities creating these ‘free safety’ positions,” White said, using a football metaphor. “They can work on alternative ways to do procurement or broker deals across agencies or push for greater use of social media.”

A Growing List

Chief innovation officers are becoming more common in public agencies. Here is a partial list of innovation-related positions in state and local government.

  • Adel Ebeid, chief innovation officer, Philadelphia
  • Jack Elsey, chief of innovation and incubation, Chicago Public Schools
  • Brett Goldstein, CIO and commissioner of the Department of Innovation, Chicago
  • Nigel Jacob and Chris Osgood, co-chairs for the Office of New Urban Mechanics, Boston
  • Rahul Merchant, chief information and innovation officer, New York City
  • Jay Nath, chief innovation officer, city and county of San Francisco
  • Tony Parham, government innovation officer, Massachusetts
  • Michael Powell, chief innovation officer, Maryland
  • Ted Smith, chief of economic growth and innovation, Louisville, Ky., Metro Government

View Full Story

| More

Comments

Kelly Underell    |    Commented February 4, 2013

Thank you for your article. Colorado also has a state Chief Innovation Office, Ajay Menon, who sits on the Governor's cabinet. Dr. Menon is the Dean of the Businesses School at Colorado State University, but dedicates part of his week towards innovation strategy and the oversize of the Colorado Innovation Network. The goal of the Colorado Innovation Network is to raise the innovative profile of Colorado and commit to meaningful change through collaboration of our innovation ecosystem stakeholders - higher education, government, research labs, industry and entrepreneurs. It was great to learn about other similar but different roles across the nation.

Joe Deklinski    |    Commented February 5, 2013

Hi: My name is Joe Deklinski and I am the Chief Innovation Officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am responsible for managing the statewide innovation and cost savings initiative implemented by Governor Tom Corbett. I read this article with interest, but noted I am not on yur list. I would welcome the chance to chat about what we are doing here in PA and to hopefully get on the list! My direct number is 717.787.6303.


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
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All