The three steps that have been articulated include:
- Implement more clearly defined processes with specific targets for innovation;
- Better track performance of new initiatives; and
- Consider improving digital tools for collaboration.
The report on the research, “Is Government Making Inroads to Innovation?,” assesses the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of federal defense and civilian agency executives regarding their agencies support of innovation. The report identified top agency drivers of federal innovation as reduced costs, improved mission delivery and increased efficiency based on a survey of more than 300 federal employees. Respondents said they are individually motivated to innovate by their commitment to public service (60 percent), desire to improve job satisfaction (49 percent) and clear sense of purpose in their job function (46 percent).
“When presented with an environment that encourages innovation, federal employees have been able to create a positive impact on their agencies,” Accenture’s Managing Director of Technology Tom Greiner said. “By taking concrete steps to foster increased collaboration and innovation in the federal workplace, agencies will be better equipped to address current and future challenges.”
However, more than half of survey respondents (53 percent) say their agency either has not yet taken concrete steps to encourage innovative thinking or are unaware of steps that may have been taken. A majority of respondents (64 percent) say their department/agency lacks clearly defined processes to develop new ideas and that their department/agency does not set specific innovation targets (66 percent). Additionally, nearly half of respondents (49 percent) disagree that their department/agency tracks performance of new initiatives after implementation.
Survey respondents are divided over what agencies can do to more effectively facilitate innovation. A majority (48 percent), believe their agency should be making gradual adjustments to become more innovative, but another 42 percent say they believe total overhaul of the current system would be best. Almost half (44 percent) of respondents say their department/agency currently uses existing funding streams to fund innovation initiatives. Only 14 percent say their department/agency creates new funding streams or acquires outside funding to drive innovation.
However, respondents indicated that some agencies are making a noticeable effort to encourage innovative thinking, most commonly by giving employees opportunities to work on independent projects. Survey respondents said they draw inspiration for new, innovative ideas from coworkers (46 percent), private sector companies (43 percent) and other departments or agencies (40 percent).
“Agencies that encourage innovation, tolerate some false starts and create opportunities for employees to collaborate have the best potential to create new efficiencies and improve the quality of services they provide to their customers,” Greiner said.