Tangherlini: Feds should take a lesson from their connected kids

Dan Tangherlini at microphone

Dan Tangherlini (file photo

Want a good model for ideas to spread innovation throughout your agency? Look at how your children do their homework, suggested Dan Tangherlini, acting administrator of the General Services Administration.

"I come to my daughter’s room and I have to be careful how I’m dressed because she has six kids on the computer screen," Tangherlini said on March 5, in speech before the Federal Managers Conference in Washington, D.C. "They’re all collaborating, and that’s the expectation that we’re going to have from the ‘coming-in’ workforce."

The government needs to find ways to use technology to allow for more engagement from the top to the bottom of the organization, he said. GSA has held the Great Ideas Hunt in 2012 to gather from across the agency smart ways to improve operations. Some ideas did not fair too well, such as all employees bringing their own office supplies to work. Others, though, have been implemented, and saved GSA money. Five ideas—such as reducing magazine and newspaper subscriptions and doing web-based surveys—have generated $6 million in savings, Tangherlini said. GSA also has created teams to consider 40 more ideas, including some that could have interagency reach.

Many of the more than 600 suggestions -- and more than 20,000 comments on those ideas -- would have never been discussed without the Great Ideas Hunt, Tangherlini said, because they did not come through the traditional agency hierarchical chart.

Agencies, he argued, can use technology and "connectiveness" to "conquer the issue of hierarchy, conquer the traditional [organizational] models that were necessary in a very complicated world in which communication was very difficult."

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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