Local Innovation Agencies

On August 22, 2011, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed an executive order establishing an Office of Innovation and Technology within the Office of the Mayor.  A Chief Innovation Officer for the City (CIO) was also established with this new office.  Responsibilities of the Office of Innovation and Technology include “identifying the most effective approach for implementing new information technology directions throughout City government” and to “provide information technology services to citizens and information technology support for government operations essential to optimize the results described in the City of Philadelphia Five Year Plan and implement industry best practice standards and methodologies.”

Across the state from Philadelphia, Allegheny County executive candidate Dakshinamurt Raja has similarly announced plans to create a countywide Department of Innovation.  This agency would be in charge of corresponding with residents and businesses to determine ways to improve government budget and services. Results from this research would then be tested, and, if successful, applied throughout the county.

Many local and state governments around the country seem to be following this trend. In 2008, Chicago introduced its Department of Innovation and Technology. Boston has renamed its Management and Information Services Department the Department of Innovation and Technology. Both of these agencies seek to advance the technological capacities of their respective city governments through cost-effective means.

Innovation agencies have appeared in a wide variety of sectors in addition to technology. The Louisiana Department of Education has started an Office of Innovation in order to discover the best policies to maximize student achievement. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has an Office of Innovation and Assistance to help “those in need of assistance and advocacy in navigating department-enforced laws, rules and regulations.” Kentucky has an Office of Innovation and Commercialization, which encourages innovation related to business, technology, research, and energy.  As innovation plays a more and more vital role in our economy these state and local agencies will surely play a role in the years ahead.

Posted by: Rebecca Anderson

Sources: City of Boston, City of Chicago, City of Philadelphia, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Photo Credit: Chicago 008 courtesy of Flickr user straightedge217

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