Implementing Open Innovation in the Public Sector: The Case of


  • Ines Mergel is assistant professor of public administration and international affairs in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on information management, especially new technology adoption in the field of open government and innovation management in the public sector. E-mail:

  • Kevin C. Desouza is associate dean for research in the College of Public Programs, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs, and interim director for the Decision Theater in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University. His research interests are in the areas of information and knowledge management, innovation systems, and strategic management of information systems. E-mail:


As part of the Open Government Initiative, the Barack Obama administration has called for new forms of collaboration with stakeholders to increase the innovativeness of public service delivery. Federal managers are employing a new policy instrument called to implement open innovation concepts invented in the private sector to crowdsource solutions from previously untapped problem solvers and to leverage collective intelligence to tackle complex social and technical public management problems. The authors highlight the work conducted by the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration, the administrator of the platform. Specifically, this Administrative Profile features the work of Tammi Marcoullier, program manager for, and Karen Trebon, deputy program manager, and their role as change agents who mediate collaborative practices between policy makers and public agencies as they navigate the political and legal environments of their local agencies. The profile provides insights into the implementation process of crowdsourcing solutions for public management problems, as well as lessons learned for designing open innovation processes in the public sector.