By Tim Matthews, October 18, 2013

Crowdsourcing in Government: Interview with Anne Glenzer – CrowdConf 2013 Featured Speaker

In the month leading up to CrowdConf, we will be speaking with our presenters to get a glimpse of their background and motivations behind their talks. Anne Glenzer, Lead Associate, Strategic Innovation Group at Booz Allen Hamilton, will be moderating the panel “Crowdsourcing in Government.” – TM


CF: How long have you been aware of crowdsourcing and how did you get involved?

AG: I first got involved in crowdsourcing in 2009, when we submitted an entry to our firm’s annual Ideas Festival Contest. The entry, called “Idea Generation Through Social Media,” focused not only on the technology behind crowdsourcing for ideas, but also the management and workflow to bring those ideas from ideation to evaluation to implementation.

Recently, I started focusing on the full culture of innovation. Tackling the question: What does it take for an organization to have an innovative culture? It’s a logical extension to my work in crowdsourcing. This year I joined a great team in our firm’s new Strategic Innovation Group. We have a great mix of communications experts, engineers, business process gurus, design thinkers, data analysts, and IT developers. It’s a great environment for thinking about and designing the future of crowdsourcing.

Open innovation is a form of crowdsourcing. How did Booz Allen Hamilton start in open innovation?

Our firm has supported clients in open innovation since 2004 when we first began supporting Grand Challenges for research-orientated government agencies. The following year, we helped a large government contractor crowdsource ways to reduce the cost of a multi-billion dollar project using internal employee ideation. It’s one of the earliest examples of using a company’s employees to find cost savings for a federal agency. A few years later, we helped launched an agency-wide ongoing crowdsourcing program at a large federal agency—and that program really set the stage for employee ideation programs in the federal government. We now provide a diverse range of open innovation service offerings through various platforms—all depending our clients’ needs and requirements.

Can you talk about the projects you have seen and maybe one that you will cover at CrowdConf?

I’ve personally focused on internal employee ideation programs—both with clients and for Booz Allen employees. I’ve also supported clients using crowdsourcing platforms to get the public’s ideas and input on new policies and agency programs. The whole idea of open government is quite intriguing. Federal departments, by law, need to get public feedback on proposed regulations and other documents. Traditionally this is done through the Federal Register, open townhall meetings, or other “old school” means. A few years ago, agencies started using virtual ideation platforms to reach the general public where they live: online. It’s a simple way to use an ideation platform and easier for people to access.

Are there any lessons to be learned from your experience with open innovation or crowdsourcing in the U.S. Federal Government? With the government shutdown in the news, any ways we could innovate or save our way with these approaches?

There’s a lot that federal agencies could gain through crowdsourcing, but also a lot of unique factors to consider. Things related to information security, ownership of data, and the culture of certain agencies. Your last question—“How could we innovate to save ourselves from the shutdown?”—that sounds like a good question to crowdsource.

Booz Allen is a big company, but many people may not be familiar with the kind of work you do. Can you talk about the firm overall, and specifically what your group does?

Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology consulting for nearly a century. The firm provides services to the U.S. government, major corporations, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. We offer our clients deep functional knowledge spanning consulting, mission operations, technology, and engineering. My particular team focuses on all facets of innovation strategy and crowdsourcing.

Tell us a bit about what you do when not thinking about government, innovation or crowdsourcing.

Well, it’s football season, so the watching the Green Bay Packers and eating bratwurst are at the top of my mind. I also spend time with my family, visiting parks and historical areas, which are abundant in the D.C. area.