September, 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 and the Institute for Innovation .

Innovation Highlights

Coming Events

Featured Government Innovator: Nagesh Rao, Institute Advisor to the Government Innovation Community

Government Resource for Entrepreneurs Working Off Sweat Equity

From Government CIO Media


The Small Business Administration has had over 1 million face-to-face interactions through its various offices, network partners and public-private partnerships, but isn't content resting on its laurels. In fact, the agency has focused on upping that number and figuring out "how we move that needle forward," says Nagesh Rao, director of Business Technology Solutions in SBA's Office of the Chief Information Officer.

"Administrator [Linda] McMahon has been very key in pushing our agency through her Ignite tour and other efforts of ensuring that local on-the-ground support and engagement through our network — be it our federal colleagues or network partners — step up the game a little bit more," he says. SBA's whole mission is to launch, build and advance U.S. businesses, so entrepreneurs should use it as a free, public resource "to scale up and grow," Rao says. "If you're a true entrepreneur, you're always working off sweat equity, and the federal government is just trying to unlock our resources and connect the dots to help you do that," he says.


See more of his interview :

Featured Innovation: Acquisition in the Digital Age


Acquisition in the Digital Age (AiDA) () was developed by the MITRE Corporation to demonstrate how agencies can leverage digital strategies and tools to navigate the complex acquisition enterprise with greater success. AiDA won the “Game Changer” award, at ACT-IAC’s Igniting Innovation 2018 Conference and Awards, for the “disruptive innovation that creates a new market, significantly impacts an existing one, or results in a major breakthrough on a longstanding problem.”

ACT-IAC Institute for Innovation Creates Online Opportunities for Innovators to Connect


In August, ACT-IAC merged its Government Innovators LinkedIn Group with the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Innovation & EShip Ecosystem Communities LinkedIn Group. The new combined group named “Innovation Ecosystems Community” boasts nearly 2,300 members and provides a great way for people with ideas about innovation to connect with each other. If you are interested in furthering the discussion around government innovation on LinkedIn, go to and request to join this newly created group. Government, industry, academia and non-profits are welcome to join. ACT-IAC will continue to maintain its Institute for Innovation LinkedIn Showcase page to feature the Institute’s work and accomplishments at and encourage you to follow us there as well. In addition to our work on LinkedIn, the Institute has created a list on Twitter of leading government innovators to help raise the visibility of their communications. If you are interested in viewing this growing list of government innovators or would like to follow ACT-IAC on Twitter, go to . And, everyone is encouraged to use the Institute’s #GovInnovators and #GovInnovation hashtags in their innovation-related Tweets.

Innovation in the News:

USAID Innovates with Modern Technology to Support International Development


USAID recognizes that international development efforts can be enhanced through the effective use of current technologies. To that end, USAID produced a series of publications to help organizations understand, assess, and plan for the use of those technologies.


Digital Identity


There may be no single factor that affects a person’s ability to share in the gains of global development as much as having an official identity. Identity unlocks formal services as diverse as voting, financial account ownership, loan applications, business registration, land titling, social protection payments, and school enrollment. Robust identity systems can help protect against human trafficking or child marriage. In many ways, the roughly 1.1 billion people who lack official identity are invisible, discounted, and left behind. The need for clear understanding and informed engagement around ID technologies has never been greater. This report offers guidance on how to address the systemic problems of today’s digital identity systems, while critically assessing how emerging technologies will shape their future.


Blockchain as an Innovation Tool in International Development


This primer aims to equip international development agencies and partners to assess whether and how distributed ledger technology (DLT), such as blockchain, might apply to their work. This primer cannot do justice to the complexity of DLT and its technological underpinnings, philosophical origins, and diverse business models. Instead, it provides:

•a set of key questions to consider for assessing relevance of DLT to particular development challenges;

•a basic summary of the technical aspects of DLT; and

•an illustrative list of DLT applications being tested across a range of sectors.

Artificial Intelligence Reshapes the Developing World

We are in the midst of an unprecedented surge of interest in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. These tools, which allow computers to make data-derived predictions and automate decisions, have become part of daily life for billions of people. Ubiquitous digital services such as interactive maps, tailored advertisements, and voice-activated personal assistants are likely only the beginning. Some AI advocates even claim that AI’s impact will be as profound as “electricity or fire” that it will revolutionize nearly every field of human activity. This enthusiasm has reached international development as well. Emerging ML/AI applications promise to reshape healthcare, agriculture, and democracy in the developing world. ML and AI show tremendous potential for helping to achieve sustainable development objectives globally. They can improve efficiency by automating labor-intensive tasks, or offer new insights by finding patterns in large, complex datasets.


This document aims to inform and empower those who may have limited technical experience as they navigate an emerging ML/AI landscape in developing countries. Donors, implementers, and other development partners should expect to come away with a basic grasp of common ML techniques and the problems ML is uniquely well-suited to solve. We will also explore some of the ways in which ML/AI may fail or be ill-suited for deployment in developing-country contexts. Awareness of these risks, and acknowledgement of our role in perpetuating or minimizing them, will help us work together to protect against harmful outcomes and ensure that AI and ML are contributing to a fair, equitable, and empowering future.


The Pentagon Has Its First Chief Data Officer

From Nextgov

The Defense Department hired its first-ever chief data officer, reinforcing the agency’s commitment to driving innovation with data. The Pentagon tapped Michael Conlin, the former chief technology officer for DXC Technology’s public sector arm, to oversee the department’s data management and governance practices, FedScoop reported. He started the job on July 30.


What is Change Management and Why Is It Essential for Digital Transformation

From Business Innovation Brief

Change management may be defined as a structured process that ensures that required changes are thoroughly and smoothly carried out, and that the long-term benefits of the change are realized. The “change” may be a simple process change or a major change in company strategy or policy.

The focus of change management is usually on people and how they, as individuals and as teams, make the shift from the current situation to the new one. Change management draws from a wide variety of disciplines, such as behavioral science and psychology, and the underlying rationale is that change does not happen in isolation—it affects the entire organization, especially the people and the way they carry out their roles.


How Three Women Beat The Odds To Become Award-Winning Inventors

From Forbes.com

More women around the world are patenting their inventions. That’s what the World Intellectual Property Organization reported earlier this year on World IP Day. Of the 243,500 international patent applications published in 2017, 31% included women — nearly 10% more than a decade ago. Interestingly, half of all PCT applications filed by the academic sector included women inventors, compared to only 30% for the business sector.

Innovation is a Many-Splendoured Thing

From Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Observatory of Public Sector Innovation

We at the Observatory of Public Sector Innovation have discussions about public sector innovation every day. So, it can be surprising when we are asked, on a fairly regular basis, ‘what is innovation anyway?’ Of course it really should not be that much of a surprise. The word innovation gets thrown around a lot and is used to describe many things in many different ways. It is no wonder that people might be confused about the concept and want more clarity about what, exactly, this thing is.

This confusion is a problem if public sector innovation is going to become a more routine activity in governments looking to develop and deliver new solutions. Having a shared understanding of innovation matters. Without a collective sense of what it is, what it involves, and why it matters, it is going to be hard to get support for innovation. People need to understand what they are signing up for with innovation. Without some degree of consensus about what it is, there is going to be a misalignment of belief, intent, and action, which is likely to make the difficult task of introducing and applying novel approaches even more challenging.

Army Futures Command to set up DIU-like Innovation Lab

From FCW

The Army's newest modernization command is planning to launch its own innovation unit, similar to the Defense Department's Defense Innovation Unit.

The Army Applications Lab would likely sit with the Capital Factory, the Austin-based startup for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, to help facilitate "a constant presence" of innovation for the command, Army Futures Commander Gen. John Murray told reporters following a House Armed Services Committee hearing Sept. 13.


The Online Platform Economy in 2018, Drivers, Workers, Sellers, and Lessors

From JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Technological innovation is transforming economic exchange. Just a decade ago, the Online Platform Economy comprised a handful of marketplaces connecting independent sellers to buyers of physical goods. Today, many consumers use software platforms to procure almost any kind of good or service from independent suppliers as a routine part of daily life. Have these innovations created viable new options for making a living?

Featured Innovation Programs and Web Sites

•Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

•USAID Global Development Lab

•Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships

•The Lab at OPM

•GSA Innovation.gov Toolkit

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


Imagine Nation – ELC 2018

October 14-17

Pennsylvania Convention Center

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

20th Annual HHS SBIR/STTR Conference

October 30 – November 1

Dallas, TX

Data Strategies, Analytics, and Trending

October 31

Renaissance Hotel, Washington DC

Healthcare Block-a-thon

November 8

Renaissance Hotel, Washington DC

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 and #GovInnovation hashtags in your tweets.

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