GovNext: Massachusetts Tests Statewide Innovations Through Short-Term Projects

Massachusetts Deputy State CIO Karthik Viswanathan outlines how the state is embracing civic tech through its new GovNext initiative.

by / November 16, 2015
Massachusetts Deputy State Chief Information Officer Karthik Viswanathan. Jason Shueh

Massachusetts is tackling a major campaign in civic tech. It’s what the state’s IT department, MassIT, calls GovNext — a program that opens the door for civic innovation projects, and institutionalizes entrepreneurial prototyping and experimentation. The initiative works to deliver high-quality, modern technology to the public.

Massachusetts Deputy CIO Karthik Viswanathan said GovNext was envisioned to be a proving ground for a number of apps and citizen-centric inventions in the coming months. The move is prompted by a realization that constituents require simple, quick and efficient public services.

GovNext will not only affect Massachusetts state agencies, but also municipalities and their citizens. To accomplish this ambitious feat, the program has structured itself into three types of projects:

  • “Open Track” projects pull in talent from citizens and the private and non-profit sectors;
  • "Experimental Track” projects last six months or less, and test low-cost, high-impact innovations; and
  • "Operational Track" projects are more resource intensive, and answer pressing needs for agencies or cities. These last from six months to one year, require in-house development and are expected to deliver significant returns for the public.

To highlight a few details of GovNext and the state’s emerging civic tech initiatives, Viswanathan spoke to Government Technology at the Massachusetts Digital Government Summit held in Boston on Nov. 2.

What are some of the exciting developments coming for MassIT?

 

Looking back, how has civic innovation changed the way Massachusetts applies technology compared to, say, a decade ago?

 

Do you think efficiency drives this change, or is it citizen demand?

 

How does GovNext put strategies you mentioned into practice?

 

What are one or two GovNext projects worth noting?


Today, government appears to be embracing the idea that it’s all right to experiment. How does GovNext spread this practice?


What's coming in the near future for MassIT?

Jason Shueh former staff writer

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.