Management of Change

 Thanks to everyone who helped plan and execute as well as those who attended this year’s Management of Change Conference. I believe our experience together with Vivek Kundra, Clay Shirky, Rob Carey and Aneesh Chopra was truly transformative. And I hope those who were not able to attend will search Twitter on our hashtag #MOC to follow our tweet stream. Feel free to retweet or share your thoughts here.

Over the next few posts I’ll share my thoughts on topics covered by the speakers. I’ll start with Aneesh Chopra, Federal Chief Technology Officer, whose role is to foster technology related economic development. If you haven’t heard Aneesh, be sure to watch this video from January’s State of the Net Conference, sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus. He’s a truly inspiring speaker.

As GCN’s Wyatt Kash describes here, Aneesh revealed his early plans on open standards, crowd sourcing, cyber security and government research and development. One of his key priorities is to identify “game-changing” innovations that improve government performance dramatically rather than incrementally. As an example, Aneesh referred to a recent partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia and NASA Langley to upgrade the Viriginia high school physics curriculum. The curriculum had not been updated in many years and topics such as nanotechnology were not adequately covered. Through an open, collaborative process, the group developed and launched the “21st Century Physics Flexbook,” in a matter of months rather than years as would normally be the case, and at almost no cost to taxpayers.

Aneesh also spoke extensively about the importance of the government’s research and development mission. So, just some R&D background for my readers. In previous posts I mentioned the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology and Global Competitiveness reports. These reports show wide ranging outcomes from research and development policy. How a policy differentiates research from development, basic from applied research and private sector from public sector investment strongly affect Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The National Science Board, part of the National Science Foundation maintains, annually, a report called the Science and Engineering Indicators that provide insights into national and international trends in R&D. Although U.S. R&D spending has fallen to about 2.6% of GDP, the U.S. maintains a very competitive position in R&D. The U.S. spends more than any other nation on R&D and more than the entire G7 nations. A few other nations like Brazil, India and China are increasing R&D expenditures as a percentage of GDP. Private sector investment is a very large percent of U.S. R&D funding, upwards of 70%. Private sector expenditures focus on development. About 60% of U.S. basic research is conducted is universities and most of that is Federally funded. U.S. R&D is geographically concentrated. Four states – California, Massachusetts, Texas and Illinois perform more than 70% of all computer and electronics R&D. The U. S. is the leading source of new patent inventions compared with Europe and Asia. Finally, multinational corporation’s R&D expenditures outside their own country continue to rise. Overseas R&D by U.S. multinationals is shifting away from Europe to emerging Asian markets.

It’s a very nice report, and I highly recommend it. However, as Aneesh pointed out, it is difficult to capture and measure the return on investment from R&D spending. He also mentioned the need to capture outcome metrics that help us understand the benefits accrued from R&D.

Welcome Aneesh Chopra and thanks again to all who participated in this year’s Management of Change Conference!