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CitySmart Blog

Friday, February 5, 2010
Tim Verras, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience
The Editor of Governing, Alan Ehrenhalt, is leaving the publication after 22 years and his final column is an elegant look at the locus of innovation at the state and local government level. Traditionally, he argues, innovation has taken place at the state level, where governors have made sweeping policy changes that lead to true change in their state. However, with many states currently facing massive budget shortfalls and crippling pension costs, the locus of innovation has shifted to city government, where many are using their budget problems as a reason for change instead of a detriment to it.
Ehrenhalt doesn’t delve too deeply into how the cities are doing this but I think it’s largely due to many of them embracing technology as a way out of the rabbit hole. Many are implementing open data initiatives, IT consolidation plans, and plans for crowdsourcing budgets. Sure, many cities are still facing budget problems, but they seem more willing to spend the money to overhaul their infrastructure than the states are. Like all things, the center of innovation will shift back and forth between state and local government over the next decade (and Ehrenhalt provides plenty of examples), but here at Sophicity we’re going to do what we can to make sure that the cities continue to innovate, cut costs, and modernize their operations. At any rate, the column is a great look into what drives innovation at the non-federal government level from a man who’s been keeping his astute eyes on it for some time.