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Homeland Security expands IdeaFactory

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The Homeland Security Department is expanding the Transportation Security Administration's interactive IdeaFactory across the entire department, an agency spokesman said Thursday.

Larry Orluskie, a DHS spokesman and project manager for the departmentwide rollout of the IdeaFactory, told Wired Workplace that the new Web 2.0 platform will enable DHS' large and dispersed workforce to submit and collaborate on innovative ideas to improve the agency. "Addressing employee morale was really part of the birth of it," he said. "TSA did it as a way to get some feedback and ideas to help increase morale. We're expecting it will do the same thing."

The departmentwide rollout builds on the tremendous success TSA has had with the IdeaFactory. As of August, for example, TSA has received more than 9,000 ideas and more than 78,000 comments on those ideas, Orluskie said.

Because of the large increase in feedback that's expected with the departmentwide rollout, DHS decided to create an IdeaFactory council that will manage the ideas and determine how to implement them. The council will be used in addition to an interactive tool that allows employees to vote on the ideas.

The department will evaluate the technology and train council members and subcomponent leaders on how to use it, all with the goal of implementing IdeaFactory across the entire department in January, Orluskie said.

"I like the idea that it's Web 2.0; it's interactive," he said. "It's not like some agencies that have an e-mail concept, where you send an e-mail or complete a form template on a Web page with your idea. IdeaFactory is interactive - you put in the idea and people vote on it and submit comments. It can even spin around and morph into another idea."

 
Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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