Bringing Innovation to the Attorney General’s Office

Bringing Innovation to the Attorney General’s Office

I’m inspired by the opportunity to reinvent and revitalize the office of Attorney General in Colorado.  Under its current leadership, the office is often left on auto-pilot, with little direction, guidance, or energy from the top.  In my past leadership roles (in President Obama’s Administration, at the University of Colorado Law School, and in Colorado’s entrepreneurial community), I placed a premium on working collaboratively, and I always looked for new ways to do things better.  I plan to bring that spirit to the Colorado Attorney General’s office.

All too often, government (and the private sector) approaches an issue by asking, “How have we handled this before?”  But the premise of entrepreneurial leadership is openness to new experiments and to the evaluation of the experiments performed by others.  I want to bring this innovative mindset to the office of Attorney General. So I’ll start by addressing the question “What’s the best way we can approach this challenge?”

When I founded the Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator program, I tapped into Colorado’s spirit of entrepreneurial leadership to transform governmental approaches to problem solving.  Over the last two years, this program has worked with the State of Colorado and the City of Denver to identify challenging issues and to pioneer new solutions presented to State and City officials.  During that time, it has developed innovative solutions to addressing the opioid epidemic, transportation for homeless individuals, and getting broadband access to low-income school children.   In addition to developing innovative solutions, the teams of governmental professionals and students in this program receive valuable training and mentorship. This inspires them to innovate in their work and accelerates their professional development.  For a recent report on this program, see this article.

Entrepreneurial leadership is important because many challenges don’t have simple or straightforward solutions.  Take the issues around for-profit education, for example.  To be sure, we need our Attorney General to protect consumers by suing fraudulent providers of education who leave students saddled with debt, no marketable skills, and no job (like Trump University did).  But we also need legitimate for-profit skills-development programs that help students master the tools they need to succeed in today’s economy (like Galvanize here in Colorado does).  Our Attorney General can work with legitimate providers of skills education to develop a program where companies that follow best practices are recognized for doing so and all institutions are held accountable for the commitments they make to their students.

In our economy, certification and validation of the claims made by companies is one of the critical roles for our government.  In industries where consumers cannot trust what some companies promise, as is the case in for-profit education, the entire industry suffers.  For certification programs—like the LEED building standard or the Energy Star program—to work, they need a watchdog on the case to look out for consumers.  As our next Attorney General, I want to make sure such programs can develop and work effectively, making sure that consumers get what they pay for.  For a description of how such programs can work, see my thoughts on this topic.

We in Colorado have a great opportunity to draw on our pioneering and innovative spirit by electing leaders who are committed to an entrepreneurial approach to government.  My track record of such leadership, inside and outside of government, goes back two decades, through my work with leaders here in Colorado to start new programs and solve problems.  The Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator program is just one of many examples.  With your help, I can bring that spirit to our Attorney General’s office.

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