Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Innovative State

How New Technologies Can Transform Government

by Aneesh Chopra

From the first chief technology officer of the United States, a brilliant look at our government, private sector “open innovation,” and how to tackle our most difficult problems with a government shaped for the twenty-first century.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date June 14, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2134-9
  • Dimensions 5" x 5"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

Over the last twenty years, our economy and our society—from how we shop and pay our bills to how we communicate—have been completely revolutionized by technology. But as Aneesh Chopra shows in Innovative State, while the private sector rapidly innovated, our government remained stalled, trapped in a model designed for the America of the 1930s and 1960s.

The election of Barack Obama on a platform of change offered a new opportunity, and in 2009, Chopra was named Chief Technology Officer of the United States, the first to hold this position. Chopra was tasked with leading the administration’s initiatives for a more open, tech-savvy government. Inspired by private sector trailblazers, Chopra wrote the playbook for governmental open innovation.

In Innovative State, Chopra shows how, over the course of our history, America has had a pioneering government matched to the challenges of the day. Now, in the Internet era, we can reshape our government and tackle our most vexing problems, from economic development to affordable health care, with the tools of open government. Open data fuels private industry and improves services for everyone, from better weather forecasts to overcoming blight in post-Katrina New Orleans. New standards enable a smart electrical grid—and transparency for consumers—as well as better and more cost-efficient medicine. Prizes, challenges, and competitions tap into the talent of Americans outside government, like the immigrant waiter who won a contest to design an inexpensive new vehicle platform for the Defense department. And by attracting talent, our government has instilled the impatience of startups into old bureaucracies, quickly producing results.

Drawing on interviews with tech leaders and policy experts and building on Chopra’s firsthand experience, Innovative State is a fascinating look at how to be smart, do more with less, and reshape American government for the twenty-first century.


“Aneesh Chopra is an innovator, and an inspiration. Read his book to learn a ton of terrific news about what has been happening in American government, and about what might happen in the future. Prepare to be inspired!” —Cass Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University

“For years, Aneesh Chopra has been at the forefront of integrating modern technologies from the private sector into government, to the benefit of all Americans. With Innovative State, he takes us on the journey that led to where we are today and shows us how far we have to go.” —Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google

“Aneesh Chopra has been the leader of the movement to use technology to revolutionize government in the same way technology has been used to transform other aspects of our lives. With inspiring stories and clear insights, he provides a playbook for open innovations that work both in the public and the private sector.” —Walter Isaacson

“Aneesh Chopra’s Innovative State is must-reading for anyone interested in tackling America’s biggest problems. We’ve seen how new technologies have dramatically changed the media industry, and Chopra shows how we can use them to remake our government.” —Arianna Huffington

“In Innovative State, Aneesh Chopra demonstrates that the same technological innovations revolutionizing industry hold the potential to forever reshape and improve our government. We experienced this dynamic firsthand through LinkedIn’s data sharing partnership with the Veterans Job Bank, and agree that a more open and collaborative government can deliver transformational results.” —Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

“The nation’s first chief technology officer describes efforts to modernize the federal government. . . .Valuable for policymakers.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In an industry where market forces don’t naturally foster innovation, Chopra has uncovered the playbook for improvement. Regardless of party or politics, Innovative State is a must read for anyone with a passion for fixing the problems facing modern government.” —Clayton M. Christensen

“Aneesh Chopra is the real deal, focused on both inspirational ideas and effective implementation. In Innovative State, he shows how government can serve people better by adopting new approaches to information technology. If you believe in government, or even if you’re frustrated by it, read this book—it will give you hope.” —Peter Orszag, Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget

“Chopra starts by offering a brief but compelling history of government-enabled technological innovation in the United States. . . . [He] offers great examples of bringing new kinds of talent into government . . . [and] provides useful insight about using the toolkit that he describes.” —Sonal Shah, Stanford Social Innovation Review


There is a growing sense that we are not what we were, and on a path to being even less. Many have come to believe that we cannot possibly face, let alone overcome, our challenges. But we’re not sinking, we’re just stalled. Our schools are largely the same as they were decades ago, the electric grid looks too much like it did when Edison invented the lightbulb, and our health care system still rewards more patient visits over value. We spend more time debating who will pay how much for a civic good rather than inventing alternative, more productive approaches that can achieve better outcomes with less resources.

In the 1990s, there was a movement to reform our government, to provide higher quality services to citizens treated as customers. But the reforms only scratched the surface on the role of technology in government—and in transforming government. That was no surprise. In 1993, there were 204 Web sites in existence. But during that decade, the world of technology exploded, driving productivity gains across the private sector.

Today, how do you make government more open, participatory, and collaborative? How do you execute a “bottom up” theory of change, by leveraging modern communications technologies, so that fresh ideas have greater likelihood to spark tangible movement and delver meaningful results? These were questions that framed and guided my experience as the nation’s first chief technology officer.