The idea for “Beta Government” has been kicked around before and I would love to see the idea flushed out a bit. We need to do more than just tell civil servants and politicl leadership to be more open to experiment or to try and fail more often. We need to provide them with models and frameworks to do this within. Again, it is not that government lacks the will to change, they simply lack the ability. We cant assume that the long hard fight for charter schools would be just as long with regard to other social issues today. Lets push for “Beta Government” across the board but lets also provide our civil servants with some outlines of what, specifically, they should be experimenting on. It is a nuance but that is where we are at in this debate, nuance is the difference between success and potential devastating failure.
It is *vital* though that this idea of Beta be coupled with their last point, the ability to uninstall. If we Beta as we have in the past, pilots will become programs. We will destroy some silos only to build stronger ones, and more of them. We need to teach our governments to test out new ideas but also to kill and eradicate failed programs when the need arises. When I was CIO for the State of Wisconsin we had a system that was in place for decades and the ‘P’ in the acronym stood for Pilot (nobody remembered that as they referred to the need to replace what they now called a legacy system).
So, Plug and Play, Uninstall and Beta may be a good framework for public sector reform (and hey, not a bad acronym (PUB)). Lets work to flesh out the details and start to implement.
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