Open Government

with Aneesh Chopra

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How to build the future of innovation in government

Aneesh Chopra

Assistant to the President and Chief Technology Officer, Author, Entrepreneur

Lessons Learned

An innovative state is where the last mile of service delivery is an engine of rapid prototyping.

We could cut 30% of healthcare costs just by being smarter consumers of our healthcare

A poor innovative state is one that overemphasizes technology and adds layers of complexity.


Lesson: Open Government with Aneesh Choprah

Step #9 Future: How to build the future of innovation in government

An innovative state is a state in which that last mile of service delivery is an engine of rapid prototyping and innovation. So if you wanted to pick a college or apply for a financial aid program, today there is that one experience to rule them all. You visit and you apply for that application. But tomorrow, if we opened up and realized the full vision of an innovative state, hundreds if not thousands of companies and products could be born who get to know you, who say let me filter for you the various polices or choices that the government is offering, so that I can recommend to you the ones that are going to maximize your life success.

That will happen because you'll trust one of those hundreds of apps. It might be a startup. It might be an established company. It might be another arm of government. It might even be a nonprofit. Someone will have earned your trust to provide for you the advice and the guidance for that last mile decision making. If every health care choice, as an example, had been optimized where I knew before I was truly sick, what was wrong with me and where I should go to get care and I made the right choices in regard to that diagnosis, we could cut 30% on the cost of our health care delivery system, just by being smarter consumers of health care or higher education or our workforce system to get re-trained to get jobs for the industries of the future. So I think an innovative state's going to be one where there's going to be lots of better doors to get either where you want to get to for your life success.

A poor version of the innovative state would be one that over emphasized the technology and put more and more layers of complexity into the experience and forced you to visit the one terrible door that you needed to break through in order to get to that service, whether that be applying for health insurance or applying for the student loan program. And you can see in our discussion both of those extremes. The that went live in the fall of 2013 was one big wrong door. And it was difficult to get through. You couldn't bypass the door and you were stuck in that queue.

But the version of that went live in July of 2010, a mere 90 days after the signing of the President's Affordable Care Act, a more open and collaborative model, a best practice. Not only was it scoped right in terms of getting a database of all the public and private insurance options in this country, but it was iterated so that the first sorts of value was getting feedback from the public as to what worked and what didn't work, which then turned into more data being made available, which turned into an application programing interface, which was open, which led to a US News & World Report new product called the Health Insurance Finder, fully powered by the open data that had been made available by the original

So in that one story, you see both extremes, the right and the wrong of an innovative state. That's a big reason what motivated me to write the book was to get folks to understand that while we go to the gym and work out muscles, in policymaking and in Washington, those muscles tend to be things like how do you lobby, how do you influence Congress, how do you think about budgets and financing ways to solve problems. But we hadn't gone to the gym to work out a new muscle that is how do we apply open data and open innovation as a way to solve problems. And if more people throughout the policymaking process from the average American who is curious to see if problem solved to that member of Congress to that administration official, if they start to get smarter, having gone to the gym, working out the muscles to say, "Hey, can we try an open data play to fix this problem in addition to whatever else I'm trying to do, that we would be in a place where more and more of this activity would take hold and the impact will be felt by more and more Americans?"

So my hope is this is going to permeate long after the President's administration, at all levels of government, at all countries around the world, and that it will happen in that spirit of a handshake and a handoff where more and more people on the official side of the ledger, the politics and policymaking side have shaken hands to say, "let's do this" and that they American people in response are ready for that handoff so that they can turn those ideas into action.

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