David McClure calls the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) “a little sparkplug igniting innovation all across government.”

Indeed, OCSIT’s just-released 2012 annual report, “More for Mission,” serves as a 51-page catalogue for the office’s multi-pronged push for innovation in technology in the federal government. Keep reading →

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.

But if you’re an innovator, this is – in a strange and unfortunate way – good news. Keep reading →

NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy launched a new public challenge contest Wednesday to generate novel approaches to using “big data” information sets from various U.S. government agencies.

Dr. Suzanne Iacono, senior science advisor for the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science directorate, made the announcement during an industry forum at the Capitol surrounding the release of a new report on big data in government. Keep reading →

U.S. Treasury Department officials doled out $25,000 in cash prizes and announced the winners of the department’s MyMoneyAppUp challenge contest.

The winners were selected from among eight finalists in a final judging session taking place at the Treasury Department and available for viewing live via webcast at 9:00 A.M. EDT Friday. Keep reading →

The Department of Labor has emerged as a leader in transforming crucial information buried in online PDF files or impenetrable government websites into new applications that widely distribute government data. Keep reading →

In September 2010 the Obama Administration launched, a one-stop shop where entrepreneurs and the public can locate and tackle tough problems – and win cash prizes doing it. Two years later, 45 federal agencies have awarded more than $13.9 million in prize money in 205 challenges, with some 16,000 citizen “solvers” taking part in the competitions.

These impressive numbers demonstrate the impact made by the administration’s efforts to make incentive prizes a key part of agencies’ problem-solving and innovation arsenal, White House officials said. Keep reading →

Robots are coming closer and closer to performing life saving duties. But the Defense Department’s Advance Research Project Agency is now putting up a $2 million prize to whomever can help push the state-of-the-art in robotics.

As part of DARPA‘s upcoming Robotics Challenge, which will launch in October 2012, DARPA is seeking teams that will be able to compete with robots that will have to successfully navigate a series of physical tasks that replicate real-world disaster-response requirements. Keep reading →

This is the third in a series of profiles of innovative leaders in government based on interviews for the book “Paths to Making a Difference: Leading in Government” by Paul R. Lawrence and Mark A. Abramson. The book highlights the management lessons of 24 political executives during their first two years in the Obama administration.

Organizations, both in the public and private sector, have come a long way since the employee suggestion box of the 20th century. For much of the last century, the suggestion box was the major vehicle for soliciting input from within organizations. Other than receiving mail and perhaps conducting focus groups, organizations were also limited in ways that they received information and ideas from outside their organization. Keep reading →

Chris Vein works for two prominent Obama administration officials who are always in the limelight. Consequently Vein doesn’t get a lot of publicity. If you do a search on his name, the “news” results shows very little.

And that’s all fine with Vein, the deputy Chief Technology Officer. He reports to the chief technology officer (the post Aneesh Chopra held before stepping down earlier this month) and also to John Holdren, the senior advisor to the president for Science and Technology. Both have been highly visible – and in Holdren’s case, controversial – appointees.
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Otavio Good, leader of the San Francisco-based team that won the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Shredder Challenge earlier this month, doesn’t just do computer programming.

“I live it,” he told AOL Government in a telephone interview. Keep reading →

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