June, 2018

Welcome to InnOvation, bringing you news about innovations to improve services and operations in the public sector, sponsored by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) Institute for Innovation. Each newsletter will feature stories, upcoming events, and opportunities for you to engage with a growing community of innovators. Learn more about ACT-IAC 
here and the Institute for Innovation here.

Innovation Highlights

Coming Events


Igniting Innovation 2018 Celebrates Innovators! May 11th, over 500 people attended the Igniting Innovation 2018 Conference and Awards to see forty of the best innovations in government and industry to improve services to citizens and government operations – a significant increase over recent years. With a keynote by Matt Lira from the White House Office of American Innovation, a panel on IT Modernization Centers of Excellence, and talks by over 20 senior government officials and experienced innovators, this year’s program was bigger and better than ever.

The overall Igniting Innovation Award, determined by popular vote, went to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) from HHS. Their new ‘Data Analytics Platform’ provides over 1,800 grants and program officers with self-service tools to support data-informed decision-making and mitigate risks to its $9 billion grants portfolio. Click here to learn more about the award winners and finalists and click here to view the finalists' and speakers' presentations.  READ MORE

Featured Government Innovator

Alexis Bonnell, Division Chief of Applied Innovation and Acceleration, USAID Global Development Lab month, we feature Alexis Bonnell, the Division Chief of Applied Innovation and Acceleration at USAID’s Global Development Lab where she serves as a key innovation leader and “Innovation Champion”. Alexis has developed and delivered innovative humanitarian and development programming in over 25 countries. She worked on projects including the Middle East Peace Plan, Afghan and Iraqi elections, tsunami response, Pakistan and Haiti earthquakes, over 500 construction projects, and major logistics operations. READ MORE

NIST Seeks Information Regarding Federal Technology Transfer Authorities and Processes
The Federal government invests approximately $150 billion annually in research and development (R&D). For the results of this investment to produce economic gain and maintain a strong national security innovation base, the results must be transferred to private companies to create new products and services. In order to advance the President’s Management Agenda to modernize government for the 21st century, including the associated Lab-to-Market cross-agency priority (CAP) Goal, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in coordination with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is seeking information to refocus Federal technology transfer on sound business principles based on private investment. 

SBA Seeks Innovators and Technology Experts for Term Appointments
SBA is looking to hire innovation and technology experts for term appointments in the Business Technology Solutions team in the CIO's office. If helping be a bureaucracy hacker, demystifying the federal government, and serving an awesome public mission of aiding the 30 million small business owners across the U.S. sounds appealing…then consider taking a look and throwing your hat in the ring. READ MORE

Innovators Join the Stanley Cup Excitement - Inadvertently, But Happily! one block from the sea of red at the Capital One Arena, on that fateful evening of June 7th when the Capitals’ won the Stanley Cup, ACT-IAC's Institute for Innovation invitees and members of David Bray’s Creative Brainstorming Group gathered together. With Capitals revelers downstairs, dedicated innovation enthusiasts (and hockey fans) met upstairs. Excitement all around! Nagesh Rao, SBA’s Director of Business Technology Solutions, facilitated a lively discussion that ranged from IT modernization, to mission resiliency, to the impact of government’s role in funding small business innovation. Plans are afoot for another joint gathering this fall. READ MORE

New Blockchain Playbook Helps Governments Embrace the Tech and Cut Through Hype

From, April 15, 2018

Cryptocurrency markets may still be mired in the trough of disillusionment, but interest in blockchain and distributed ledger technology continues to percolate within the United States government. Applications of the technology across the federal government are being aggressively explored, in conjunction with artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation.

But as public sector blockchain fever continues to grow - even amid reported instances of vendors trying to sell “blockchain solutions” that aren’t actually blockchain to naive agency IT procurement managers, a need has emerged for a roadmap and how-to manual designed to help practitioners better understand the technology’s potential, cut through hype and jargon and ultimately deliver better value for taxpayers.

ACT-IAC, a non-profit educational group that strives to help governments better utilize technology, has taken a first stab at this with the unveiling of its first-ever Blockchain Playbook for the federal government earlier this month. READ MORE

Hot Tech Topics Series - Robotic Process Automation 
What is Robotic Process Automation? Process Automation is simply the use of software ‘robots’ to perform repetitive operational activities. This all started out as Y2K (remember Y2K?) screen-scrapers. Over time these applications have evolved to the point they can eliminate the need for people to perform clerical processes. Like screen-scrapers, robotic process automation products typically interact directly with the user interface of an existing application. This is similar to the way chatbots like Siri/Alexa/Cortana interact with browsers and websites so you don’t have to. Robotic process automation could streamline many government processes, freeing up personnel for higher valued work. READ MORE


Featured Articles

How New Centers of Excellence are Driving IT Modernization

From GovLoop

If you’ve been in government for any amount of time, then you know major change rarely takes place without some sort of report or study that lays out the problems. That’s certainly been the case with federal IT modernization. There are years’ worth of reports that lay out the critical need to modernize aging government systems, the dangers of not doing so, and the challenges agencies face. “We know what the problems are,” said Joanne Collins-Smee, Director of Technology Transformation Services and Deputy Commissioner of the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service. Collins-Smee is also responsible for implementing the newly announced IT Modernization Centers of Excellence (CoE), which house centralized technical talent, products, and acquisition vehicles to assist agencies with major technology transformation projects.READ MORE

Service Innovations

By Mike Whitaker
Adapted from

For large companies,does innovation happen tucked away in a lab?  How does a professional
services company innovate?  Delve into these questions with Michael Whitaker (“Whit”) of ICF as he dispels misguided concepts about service innovation. The unique challenges of this industry demand a unique process. Whit shares his process for innovation at ICF. READ MORE

The Enduring Myth of the Whiz Kid

From Co.Design

In government, the real change makers aren’t 24-year-old male engineers parachuted in from Silicon Valley, but a diverse range of people who have worked in or around government for years, who are invested in their communities, and who simply like intractable problems. READ MORE

Critical Update: Flying Cars, Valley of Death, and Innovating with Intrapreneurs


The government has big problems to solve and there are a lot of people out there with big ideas and fresh technologies to pitch. The problem for agencies: figuring out which ideas to spend time and treasure on. At the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Chief Ventures
Officer Christy Monaco is helping the agency sort this out. Monaco leads NGA’s Office of Ventures and Innovation, focused on helping agency employees develop and adopt new ideas and coordinating with the private sector on emerging tech.READ MORE

Latest Effort to Reform DoD Acquisition Borrows Heavily from Expert Panel's Recommendations


For the fourth year in a row, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is pushing a package of legislation that he says will modernize and accelerate the Defense acquisition system. This year’s version includes at least a couple of key differences though. For one, it attempts to prod the Defense Department to implement the changes Congress has already passed as part of prior-year reform bills. READ MORE

New DIUX Programs to Give Acquisition Professionals a Crash Course in Rapid Procurement


The Pentagon’s experimental procurement group is looking for acquisition professionals who want to learn how to make the Defense Department a more attractive customer to cutting-edge technology companies. The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, better known as DIUx, is launching an acquisition program, HACQer, through which it will select a few motivated DOD acquisition professionals for a four month detail at its headquarters in Mountain View, California. The program is another opportunity for the group to share its ideas about how to acquire technology in a way that’s not traditional for the Pentagon. READ MORE

Navy's R&D Wing is Building a Lean, Mean Innovation Machine


As sports coaches and self-help books have said for decades, the first step to fixing any problem is recognizing what it is. And Rich Carlin thinks the military’s research and development efforts could benefit from digging a bit deeper into issues before looking for a solution. Carlin, who leads the Sea Warfare and Weapons Department at the Office of Naval Research, is spearheading an effort to standardize the office’s approach to developing new technology. The initiative, dubbed Naval Innovation Process Adoption, is rooted in a problem-solving method called H4X, which distills business and design principles commonly used by startups and entrepreneurs into a structured system for innovation. READ MORE

Featured Innovation Programs and Web Sites

Additional innovation programs and web sites you may be interested in:

Cyber Ready Conference
June 26, 2018
George Mason University, Prince William Campus
Click here for more information


Growing the STEM for a Stronger Tomorrow
June 28, 2018
George Mason University Fairfax Campus
Click here for more information


Design for Public Service Meet & Greet in Denver
(hosted by The Lab at OPM)
June 28, 2018
Click here for more information


Serious Play Conference
July 10-12
George Mason University, Hylton Performing Arts Center 
Click here for more information


Internet of Things:Smart Cities and Devices of IoT ACT-IAC Forum
July 18 
Renaissance Washington DC Hotel
Click here for more information


Celebrate Invention 2018
by AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors Program
July 24 
Click here for more information


Monthly Tours of the Lab at OPM
July 16, August 6, September 10
Click here for more information


Connect and Collaborate with Other Innovators

 Now, you can connect, learn, and share your innovation challenges and successes with other innovators using tools developed by ACT-IAC’s Institute for Innovation. The “Government Innovators” group on LinkedIn ( is a community-wide gathering spot to share information, help each other, and grow the government innovation community (including private companies and individuals).  The LinkedIn Showcase ( is your go-to resource for Institute-specific information, like upcoming events and original content. And, we encourage you to use the #GovInnovators hashtag in your tweets.

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