You Are Not Red Tape

Last week I had the privilege of attending two conferences in the DC area: NextGen Government summit, and Drupal GovCon. These conferences had two completely different foci — NextGen has a goal of training and empowering the next generation of leaders across government, while Drupal GovCon connects government agencies to share their strategies and goals in building and maintaining their web properties. But while the audience and mission of each conference were vastly different from each other, I saw an encouraging trend across both — they were filled with young professionals who are eager to innovate and improve upon processes in the public sector.


NextGen encouraged attendees to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and gave tips on how to cultivate bravery within oneself. Leaders promoted a different approach to meetings (have less of them). Many speakers talked about a new paradigm in team structures, in which everyone should be empowered to be a leader and powerful contributor to increase productivity and a sense of ownership over shared goals.

Drupal GovCon

At Drupal GovCon the focus was more tech-driven, looking towards new tools currently in development, and discussing strategies to future-proof existing software. All the popular buzzwords were thrown around — making platforms that focus on mobile first, responsive layouts, HTML5, accessibility, and security. We met some of the minds behind’s Drupal platform and had a chance to compare notes on our processes and challenges over lunch. (Here’s a hint — they suffer from PDF overload like we do!) Again, while the focus was on the technology, the goal was innovation and improving on processes.

No Red Tape

"I Am Not Red Tape" with  a dotted line and scissors down the middle

The volunteers at NextGen were all sporting a fantastic t-shirt that perfectly captured the theme of the week. “I am not red tape.” Neither are you. If you’re a government employee, you have the power to choose to bring about positive change in your agency. As a web content manager for your agency that may mean cleaning up your website content to make things easier to find, and being a champion for user-friendly, accessible content even when your senior leadership is more focused on reflecting internal processes. It may require you to step out of your comfort zone, but you, too, can ride the wave of innovation in government. You can improve the system from within.

For more ideas and encouragement on all the conversations happening in the public sector, check out the great, free resources at GovLoop. Might I suggest you start with this one: How to Spark Innovation at Your Agency.

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