Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Video: With Innovation, 'More Isn't Better, Better Is Better'

Photo by Caitlin Fairchild

Jonah Czerwinski is founding director of the VA Center for Innovation and has served as an advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs since 2009. Learn more about his work on innovation in a piece he wrote for Excellence in Government here

"More isn't better," said Jonah Czerwinski, quoting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. "Better is better." Czerwinski, who recently spoke with Excellence in Government, said the VA isn't interested in innovating for innovations sake--but in order to improve and build upon the department's current service offerings. 

Czerwinski says the one thing agencies trying to innovate really need is support from the Secretary level on down. "You have to have some secretarial leadership at the top," said Czerwinski. "Arguably [you also need] presidential leadership to say innovation matters and that I'm willing to take some risk." 

In a story Czerwinski recently wrote for Excellence in Government, he said the new VA Center for Innovation (VACI) is designed to:

Create an enabling environment. This means VA provides the authority, priority, and capability for programs and people to succeed at innovation. Protocols and procedures allow for a dedicated program, for instance, and it features prominently in VA’s strategic and tactical plans. This requires VA to invest resources, including personnel and training dollars, toward this goal. 

Develop mechanisms that create implementable solutions. Programs need to be established to develop and make use of the skills required for innovation, as well as provide a framework for systematic ideation, piloting, measurement, and diffusion of innovation. This results in the organization quickly generating, testing, and preparing ideas for roll-out.

Deliver real value to VA’s organization and community. The objective is to establish programs that are not innovating for innovation’s sake, but rather producing outputs that are implemented and impactful to VA’s mission.  This results in the organization and community realizing better, faster, or more affordable products and services.

You can see Czerwinski's full interview with Excellence in Government below: 

Want more Excellence in Government? Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Google + | LinkedIn

Mark Micheli is Special Projects Editor for Government Executive Media Group. He's the editor of Excellence in Government Online and contributes to GovExec, NextGov and Defense One. Previously, he worked on national security and emergency management issues with the US Treasury Department and the Department of Homeland Security. He's a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and studied at Drake University.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.