If we're serious about supporting the troops, that means serious support for those who help vets.
Like anything in Washington, that means changing the culture, and it's happening at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
I've worked with these guys, they're for real.
VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker and VA Chief Technology Officer Peter Levin said that three changes must take place at an agency to make innovation possible: cultural change, which is the hardest; infrastructural change, which is the easiest; and process change. But Levin said even the cultural change turned out to be easier than expected, in part because employees responded in such large numbers to innovation initiatives and contests. In the two idea contests VA has run thus far, more than 50,000 VA employees have submitted more than 10,000 new ideas, he said.
"In the environment we're creating, failure in a transparent mode is still failure, but it's not a negative thing," Baker said. "If you're not failing, you're not trying. We're holding people accountable for it. If your project is failing and I don't have an e-mail that says 'red flag,' there's a problem."