VA and NASA Win Multiple Innovation Awards - Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)
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Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)

 

VA and NASA Win Multiple Innovation Awards

February 19, 2015

From Government Executive
by Charles S. Clark External link to a non-government website

The Veterans Affairs Department earned three and NASA garnered two of the prestigious “Bright Ideas” for innovation awards announced on Wednesday by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The 2012 ribbon cutting ceremony for VA's Warriors to Workforce program, which won an innovation award.

The fourth annual Ash Center awards recognized 124 effective programs External link to a non-government website, mostly in states and localities.  But the list included 13 federal initiatives.

“The Bright Ideas program demonstrates that often seemingly intractable problems can be creatively and capably tackled by small groups of dedicated, civic-minded individuals,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center.  “Making government work better doesn’t always require massive reforms and huge budgets.  Indeed, we are seeing that, in many ways, an emphasis on efficiency and adaptability can have further-reaching effects than large-scale reforms.”

The center is named for Roy Ash, a two-time Cabinet member who in the Nixon administration was the first director of the Office of Management and Budget, and his wife Lila.  To be eligible for awards, programs must operational or in the process of launching and have sufficient operational resources and must be administered by one or more governmental entities.

The following federal programs were recognized this year:

  • The State Department’s Accelerating Social Impact Through Crowdfunding, consisting of a website called RocketHub, which creates investment options beyond government support to tackle tough problems worldwide.
  • The Federal Acquisition Career Management System at the Federal Acquisition Institute, led by the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy.  The system is the “avenue for all civilian acquisition workforce members to register for training, track their certifications and manage their careers from anywhere in the world,” the Ash Center said.
  • The Homeland Security Department’s Human Capital and Training Employee Engagement Program within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is designed to foster job satisfaction through team building.
  • The joint VA and Housing and Urban Development Department Homelessness Analytics Initiative, which provides access to national, state and local services and information directed at helping the homeless.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s “How’s My Waterway” mobile app, which helps users find information on the condition of their local waters using a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Idea Box, which is a collaborative platform used by agency employees at all locations and levels to circulate innovative ideas to improve efficiency.
  • NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, which is a two-day innovation incubator where teams of technologists, scientists, designers, artists, educators, entrepreneurs, developers, and students across the globe collaborate and engage with NASA’s publicly available data, models, and tools to design innovative open source solutions to global challenges.
  • VA’s Mobile Health apps, which allow Veterans “on-the-go access” to their health data and their doctors.
  • NASA’s Research Park, a shared-use research and development campus in California’s Silicon Valley that fosters collaboration and job creation.
  • The White House Council’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, which embeds teams of federal experts directly in city halls across the country to help local officials identify flexible, coordinated uses for federal resources.
  • The Navy’s Sustainability Initiatives, led by its Southwest Region to showcase green workplaces that maximize purchasing of recycled products.
  • The Small Business Administration’s Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship External link to a government website program (V-WISE), which, using training and mentoring, “empowers female Veterans to develop the business-savvy skills necessary to turn their business-ownership dream into a growth venture.”
  • The Small Business Administration’s Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship External link to a government website program (V-WISE), which, using training and mentoring, “empowers female Veterans to develop the business-savvy skills necessary to turn their business-ownership dream into a growth venture.”
  • VA’s Warriors to Workforce program, which is run from its Acquisition Academy to train “post-9/11 Veterans with a service-connected disability and a high-school degree with little to no college education to serve in the mission-critical roles of contract specialists and program managers.”

Responding to the award notification, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet issued a statement saying, “Being recognized by Harvard University is a confirmation of a successful partnership making strides to support the small business ownership dreams of so many women Veterans.”


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