The Next Big Thing from the US Government?

As the nation faces sequestration, Washington DC seems to be paralyzed again! Yet this same US federal government has had a glorious past creating new global industries.  The question is will Washington be able to recover and if so what will be the next big thing the US federal government will deliver to the world?

US Global Technology Leadership

US is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. The US dominated space industry produces over $100 billion in revenues and employs over 120,000 in OECD countries. The Boston Consulting Group’s recently published report, “The Internet Economy in the G-20” estimated the Internet economy to be around $4.2 trillion in the G-20 by 2016. The Battelle Memorial Institute estimated recently that funding of “$3.8 billion investment in the Human Genome Project helped drive $796 billion in economic impact.” Guess who helped create these industries and put US on the path to global leadership? Well it was the same paralyzed US Federal Government of today!

The Brain Map:

So what will be the next big thing the US federal government delivers? The Obama administration would like to invest approximately $300 million annually for the next ten years in a public private innovations partnership to create a conclusive map of the 100 billion plus neurons. This could lead to cures for Autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Schizophrenia – just to name a few. Is this it?

The Next Big Thing?

But wait – I know of an initiative that has humongous potential. Well what is it? Today 50% of the federal budget – $1.79 trillion goes to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and the interest on the federal debt. If the federal government does not take care of this debt – there will be no money to fund the next big industry and the “technomy” will shift its epicenter to some other country. So to the powers that be in Washington – work towards the next big thing – a grand bargain that puts the nation’s fiscal order in place!

Note: Well if you know of other major federal government led transformative initiatives that are on the drawing board today that could be part of the “next big thing” – feel free to comment or write to me!

About the author: Nitin Pradhan is the founder of Public Private Innovations, the nation’s first federal technology accelerator and formally the CIO of the U.S. Department of Transportation.   He can be reached via LinkedIn or followed on Twitter