by Andrea Di Maio | June 4, 2009 | Comments Off on New US Federal CTO Shares His Priorities: Good Ideas, Hard To Implement
Aneesh Chopra, the recently appointed CTO for the US Federal Government, made a speech at the ACT/IAC Management of Change Conference, which was very well received, at least judging from the enthusiastic tweets and Facebook messages that I’ve read.
In listing his priorities in his new role, he mentioned three areas that seem quite interesting to me:
- open standards
- the role of government R&D and
- crowdsourcing for public sector innovation
These are all great topics.
The US are clearly ahead of the pack on crowdsourcing, after some of the high-profile initiatives to gather people’s input on both recovery.gov and open government. Of course there is plenty of room for improvement, but government has already taken steps in the right direction.
Government R&D has different meanings, from government-driven research to government-funded research.
The former concerns innovations that are instrumental to government mission priorities and can benefit other industries too – such as space and defense-related research. Here the US have a long-standing tradition and the question is how much more downstream should that research be?
The latter concerns grants to R&D that will directly benefit research centers and enterprises. A good example is the EU Framework Program for Research and Technology Development, which I had a chance to comment upon in an earlier post.
In both cases, striking the balance between pre-competitive R&D and competitive product development or procurement is a delicate exercise, especially in .difficult times when proactive R&D support may be misconstrued or misinterpreted as state aids or breaches in competitive tendering.
Finally, open standards. Discussions on what open standards actually mean have fueled endless debates in Europe: the confusion between open specification, open source, open processes, and so forth lasted for years and is not yet totally resolved, although the latest developments around the so-called European Interoperability Framework should help. Aneesh mentioned that there is no intention to rule out industry standards, but that sharing and reuse of applications will be a key component for innovation. He may wish to get some further background about the many fights at national and EU level on this very subject.
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