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California 100 Announces Innovation Projects to Test and Scale Bold New Policy Ideas

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California 100 Announces Innovation Projects to Test and Scale Bold New Policy Ideas

California 100, a new state-wide initiative seeking to build a vision and strategy for the state’s long-term future, announced today the selection of policy demonstration projects designed to rigorously test big ideas with the potential to advance California towards an equitable, healthy, and sustainable future. These demonstration projects jumpstart the next phase of California 100 by examining and supporting transformative policies and practices in real-time.

Chosen through a competitive selection process that began in March 2021, applicants were evaluated on criteria including boldness, equity, cost-effectiveness, innovation, replicability, scalability, and feasibility. The accepted projects are diverse in scope and focus, employing a combination of new technologies, data accessibility, a focus on system-wide equity, and the integration of community experience into public policy to disrupt the status quo of top-down policymaking.

Each project will be co-designed and carried out over the next two years as a partnership between California 100, the Possibility Lab at UC Berkeley, and a California local or state agency.

“More than any other time in history, we face a series of complex problems that defy easy solutions. From climate change, to racial justice, to the future of our democracy, these challenges require new and out-of-the-box thinking,” said Professor Amy Lerman, Director of Innovation for California 100 and Director of the Possibility Lab at UC Berkeley. “Now is the moment to get creative, to think and act in new ways, and to create partnerships and infrastructure that support innovation.”

These projects will provide ‘proof of concept’ for bold ideas, demonstrating the possibilities for California’s future when we embrace innovative ways of tackling long-standing problems. Through the selected innovation projects, we will be:

  • Deploying city-wide equity indicators, towards the goal of getting an entire city thinking about equity in a different way, including how to reduce disparities amongst city residents’ access to, and engagement with, public resources.
  • Designing new strategies aimed at combating poverty by using both technological and human interventions to identify Californians at high risk of not receiving tax-based benefits, and simplifying the tax filing process.
  • Developing algorithms, in partnership with District Attorneys’ offices across the state, to test interventions designed to equitably reduce the number of incarcerated people in California and reduce barriers to prosecutorial-led resentencing.
  • Supporting native communities to gather impact data from cultural burns on soil, wildfire reduction, and traditional food sources, along with exploring new ways to counteract the disproportionate effects of wildfires on their health.
  • Establishing California as the first government in the world to monitor microplastics in drinking water, while also exploring a first step towards the prevalence of open-source software for government application and its potential to increase civic participation, government transparency, and data accessibility.
  • Creating a platform to strengthen meaningful youth participation in policies that affect their well-being and development, and connect youth leaders across California in participatory research programs.
  • Streamlining the practice-research collaboration between public sector organizations and public university research teams, with the goal of reducing bureaucratic hurdles and accelerating data-driven innovation partnerships.

Building the Innovation Infrastructure for California’s Next Century

Over the coming year, these demonstration projects will produce rigorous, replicable models of new programs and policies. Interventions that prove successful can be scaled up, with the potential to dramatically improve California’s trajectory in the coming decades. In addition to these specific demonstration projects, the goal of California 100 is also to model a path forward for making California a leader in data-driven, public-sector innovation for the state’s next century.

These projects are therefore the first step in designing a durable infrastructure to support innovation in government. As we carry out this specific set of projects, we are also developing more general models for a robust state-wide innovation architecture. This work focuses on five pillars: institutionalizing technical assistance, streamlining partnerships, centralizing data systems, training a new generation of collaborative researchers, and recruiting and retaining innovators in the public-sector workforce.

Institutionalizing technical assistance

Through California 100’s innovation work, we aim to demonstrate the value of deep relationships in producing innovative, policy-relevant research, and to help develop and implement data-driven best practices. Our goal is to model a process for how government can build capacity for innovation.

Streamlining collaborations

Researcher-practitioner partnerships allow us to bring together academic and applied expertise, increasing capacity to carry out high-quality implementation and evaluation of innovative ideas. We are working to streamline collaborations, such as by developing a set of common guidelines to guide collaboration.

Centralizing data systems

California lags in its permanent data infrastructure. As we carry out our work, we are developing protocols for collecting and merging data across public agencies, policy areas, and levels of government. We are likewise seeking new data-sharing models that can broaden data use to improve government performance.

Training a new generation of researchers

Through our work, we are developing curricula and processes that will support the next generation of scholars who are trained to sit at the crossroads of academia and practice, through research apprenticeships, intensive mentoring, and by embedding graduate students in government teams to carry out rigorous collaborative research.

Supporting innovators in government

The U.S. government is undergoing a significant demographic shift, with approximately 20% of the workforce set to retire in the next few years, and almost half of front-line workers quit within their first few years of service due to burnout, PTSD, and compassion fatigue. These workforce challenges reflect a major operational crisis for the public sector, but also a unique opportunity for us to rethink how to bring new talent into the government workforce, and how to support existing public servants so they are retained, engaged, and successful.

California 100: A Vision and Strategy for California’s Future

These demonstration projects are designed to contribute to a broader effort to map a vision and strategy of California’s long-term future. In the Spring, California 100 released 13 policy and future scenario reports in core issue areas.

“Through our policy and scenario reports released this spring, we kickstarted a conversation about where California can go if we think and plan intentionally for a future we want to see,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, Executive Director for California 100. “Now, we are supporting and evaluating a new wave of transformative policy solutions that hold the potential to shape our long-term success.”

This summer, California 100’s expert and Intergenerational Commission will conduct a series of listening sessions throughout the state, to solicit feedback on the ideas generated by our research and to generate additional big and bold ideas for consideration by public and private agencies, as well as by everyday Californians. Insights will also be generated from our deep engagement on questions of science and technology as they relate to a variety of issues, including transportation and urban planning.