Government Innovation With the Harvard Stamp of Approval

Harvard Kennedy School Ash CenterSan Francisco’s city government has its obvious problems. But for all the failures and follies at City Hall, there are some bright spot when it comes to Gov 2.0 innovation. And the prestigious Ash Center at Harvard University’s Kennedy School has taken notice.

Government Programs that Work

Recently, the Ash Center announced its Top 25 Innovations in Government, a competition for programs that “represent the creative problem solving of local, state, and federal municipalities around the country.” From the 560 entrants, this list of 25 will be narrowed to 5 finalists and one ultimate winner in the Fall.

The programs are from a wide variety of places – from Pinellas County, FL to the State of Ohio to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – and cover a range of topics – from tax credit programs to clean power to healthier eating. These are exactly the types of innovative programs we seek at Reset. The programs represent responsive and responsible government action that has a direct benefit to the people they serve.

San Francisco Makes the List Twice

And wouldn’t you know it – San Francisco has two programs among the top 25. The first is San Francisco’s Citywide Post-Disaster Resilience and Recovery Initiative, a program working to “address comprehensive advanced planning to accelerate post-disaster recovery.” This program brings different agencies and departments together to work on ways to prepare for and after a catastrophic event

The next is the more well known (perhaps because you see it on almost every restaurant bill) and is called Healthy San Francisco, the City’s landmark program that provides “comprehensive, affordable health care to uninsured adults.”

While it’s easy to associate San Francisco city government with handing out parking tickets to try and balance their budget or with an inefficient Muni, let’s not overlook the good they do as well.

So for all those uninsured who are able to get the medical help they deserve and for all of us San Franciscans who are vulnerable to a catastrophic event – thanks, SF Gov.

Ask An Expert with San Francisco’s Gov 2.0 Gurus

We’ll be talking to two of the folks behind the San Francisco Gov 2.0 innovation on Thursday June 9th. Jay Nath, the SF Director of Innovation, and Gina Tomlinson, the City’s Chief Technology Officer will be with us and taking your questions. You can RSVP on facebook here.


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Bernadette's picture

Multi-City Innovation Through Gamification!

This is also a wonderful example of indirect gamification to praise and also inspire innovation! The competition brings all these ideas into the public's awareness while simultaneously giving cities and citizens additional motivation (winning an award for their city) for creating innovations that create benefits in different aspects of city life -- education, healthcare, public safety, transportation, etc.


Patrick Stelmach's picture

Innovating Outside the Market

Innovation in the private sector happens a rapid clip, primarily because market forces create huge financial incentives for individuals and companies to find the latest and greatest technologies and whatnot. While many people clamor that government should run more like a business, it really can't right now and for the foreseeable future. To spark innovation in the public sector to bring government into the 21st century will require us, the voters, to demand it. Policy makers have a million competing priorities and true government 2.0, making San Francisco a leading digital city, will take a lot of pressures form the inside, in addition to a lot of initiative from the management and rank-and-file bureaucrats in city hall.

Katie Short's picture

Yes, Healthy San Francisco

Over the past two years there has been a notable drop in emergency room visits and acute hospitalizations for enrollees of Healthy San Francisco.  The preventative measures and general services provided, I suspect, have done a lot to help those with emphysema, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions, stabilize and avoid the hospital. It is wonderful, and arguably fiscally wise, that, despite shrinking budgets, San Francisco has continued to provide this service to residents, and even better, that it be a standard for other localities.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137