Innovative State


Innovative-State-coverNotes from the June 19, 2014 Live Talks Los Angeles Business Forum (featuring top leaders in business, technology, culture and policy – watch for next year’s season!):

Aneesh Chopra, the first Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. (appointed by President Obama), in a conversation with Peter Marx, the first Chief Innovation Technology Officer of the City of Los Angeles (appointed by Mayor Garcetti) agreed that the digital age requires an innovative, streamlined approach to government investment in infrastructure, programs and services.

Chopra’s book Innovative State: How New Technologies Can Transform Government, was their subject at the morning forum held at Gensler offices in downtown Los Angeles.

Chopra noted that Facebook has 2,500 employees but claims to have 30,000 developers because users and apps leverage its platform and serve as force multipliers. “We need to be in lean start-up mode, let the private sector do the ‘last mile’ and narrow the gap between private and public sector progress. Much of that gap is the history of procurement.”

Easing access to government data, creating incentives for private-sector solutions that leverage government information, and avoiding or (by legislation!) overriding “antibody reactions” to game-changing ideas can all help close the gap, he continued. Further, “I personally believe states and cities are going to be the engine of the national economy going forward.”

Worth noting: Chopra is leaving public service for the private sector, while Marx just transitioned from a successful private sector career to his public post.

Marx observed that government in the U.S. is “in the middle of a decade of problem solving,” and making quiet but serious progress in leveraging digital technology to solve problems. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is in the middle of a huge transformation, with more construction projects underway than anywhere else in the country, four subway lines under construction, a very tech-friendly mayor, and a major change in its reputation, to “almost walkable.” Coming from the private sector, Marx said he is gratified by how many people want to see government work.

Referencing the venue at Gensler, Marx noted that the classic practice of architecture is “design, then build,” but the pace of digital innovation makes this approach impractical. “In the software world, you know an app is dead when it isn’t updated, but the City of Los Angeles procurement cycle averages 450 days! It is very difficult to anticipate innovation when you have to plot out every footstep while you also have the least amount of information.”

Marx is overseeing implementation of new tools and technologies across L.A. city government to better solve problems for residents and make City Hall work more efficiently and effectively. He is also partnering with L.A.’s growing tech industry to deploy innovative technology and promote local job creation.

The program’s Q&A conclusion focused on the major concerns with data collection: privacy and security.

Takeaways from the morning talk include:

  • leverage government data to improve proposals and projects
  • find “last-mile” opportunities that sidestep procurement
  • legislation is a possible solution to poor procurement practices
  • stay current to win business from an increasingly tech-oriented government

Editor’s Note: reposted from Industry Speaks, the business-to-business portal where A/E/C firms can find advisors specializing in the AEC industry, and read and post reviews of consultants, courses and books.