This morning, I have the honor of kicking off the public-private strategy session we’re hosting with the White House on driving innovation and civic dialogue through the use of prizes, challenges and open grantmaking.
I feel a great sense of excitement as we head into this dialogue that focuses largely on new, breakthrough opportunities to more fully engage citizens in our public sector efforts. Here at the Case Foundation, we began to see the potential in these types of approaches to ignite civic participation, especially when combined with new interactive technologies, when we launched the Make It Your Own Awards in 2007. Since then, we have seen that potential grow as both the philanthropic and corporate sectors have continued to experiment through programs that incent the public to participate in decision-making.
Now, we have the opportunity to take lessons we’ve learned – and those of peers – from these early innovations and apply them to a sector where they have the potential to make the most impact on the public – in the federal government. Through the early experimentation, we’ve seen that there is a clear appetite from the public to have a more active role in making decisions that affect their daily lives and their communities, and now it’s time to capitalize on that appetite by creating opportunities and moments that capture the best ideas and move them forward.
Earlier this week, I was asked “why now?” when it comes to the government’s adoption of prizes and challenges. Frankly, I don’t think it was possible until now – the merging of the movement toward improving transparency and reducing bureaucracy at the federal level, with the evolution of Web 2.0 technologies has opened the door for the creation of programs that can successfully engage the public and encourage their direct involvement in driving innovation and improving how government serves them. At its core, this is an opportunity for government to return to the roots of democracy – a government that is for the people, and more significantly by the people.
And since this day-long session is all about reaching new audiences to identify new solutions and engaging all citizens in decision-making, we’re particularly excited about the fact that we’ll be able to bring the day to the public – no matter where they are. We encourage everyone interested in this topic to join our interactive CaseSoup Q&A sessions featuring leading innovators in this space, taking place online and live from the event. The schedule includes an exciting mix of public and private sector experts and practitioners, including Sonal Shah of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, Peter Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. CTO, the team from the Pepsi Refresh Project and others. We’ll hope you’ll join us on this exciting day!