Best Of 2012: Innovation

on December 28, 2012 at 7:00 AM

As one of our contributors wrote recently, it is one of the most challenging times in American history to be part of a government bureaucracy.

A dysfunctional congress offers little or no support; agency budgets face gutting as the nation stares down a fiscal cliff; hiring freezes and the looming shadow of furloughs threaten to turn the government’s talent pool stagnant.

This is the sixth in a seven-part series of AOL Gov’s Best Of 2012

But if you’re an innovator, writes Dan Verton, this is – in a strange and unfortunate way – good news. Innovation, in fact, just might save the federal government.

The White House is certainly putting plenty of resources toward the concept; 18 Fellows were selected this year from 700 applicants across the country to help jump start five federal innovation initiatives.

We’re also seeing innovation at work within many federal agencies.

We featured a four-part series on The National Weather Service, including a story about improved disaster response through a collaborative project, and another series on the National Institutes of Health, which includes a story about an internal website built by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases where staff can post, search, and exchange equipment and supplies they no longer need.

But as Verton also pointed out, today’s mothers of invention are giving birth to things people don’t always associate with innovation. This isn’t always about a new form of computing or a new Web application that takes a market by storm. To the contrary, in today’s austere government environment innovation more often means tackling the thorny issues of organization, inter-agency collaboration and performance. And those just might be the big stories in 2013.