Upgrading American Government: It’s Not Rocket Science

The business community — and all patriotic Americans — have an economic stake in building a better government.

After traveling hundreds of millions of miles through space, the Curiosity Rover began its descent to Mars at supersonic speeds. Seven nail-biting minutes later, the rover landed safely and sent its first signals back to mission control — a triumph of American ingenuity. In that moment, we remembered that anything we can imagine, we can accomplish.

Photo by NASA

And yet today, back on American soil, we face what seems like an insurmountable problem: our broken government. For decades, we’ve endured political squabbles, partisan gridlock, outmoded bureaucracy, unreliable elections, and an increasingly unpredictable political environment. Public trust in government remains near historic lows, and for good reason.

For the business community, better government is more than a matter of principle — it’s an urgent economic priority. In fact, Michael Porter wrote in a Harvard Business School report last fall that our broken government is the #1 problem obstructing economic progress and competitiveness.

Americans already know that political paralysis is holding our country back. The questions is, what can we do about it? Many are surprised to learn that proven solutions already exist — we just need the political will to make change happen.

It’s time to upgrade our government from end to end: the way we run elections, how laws are made, and how those laws are implemented. But government isn’t going to fix itself.

Our Mission: Upgrade American Government

As business leaders, we know how to get things done. We know how to lead, innovate, and solve what once seemed like impossible problems. If our country can send robots to Mars, then surely we can overcome the challenges of self-governance here at home. It starts with a clear vision and the will to get it done.

Here’s our vision.

Elections: Secure, Competitive, and Accurate

Elections are a key leverage point for change. They’re how we hold our representatives — and by extension, our government — accountable. Therefore our elections must offer voters meaningful choices and be accurate, auditable, and safe from cyber threats.

By ensuring that every qualified citizen who wants to vote is able to vote (and those who are ineligible do not), we can increase civic engagement. By ensuring we have accurate, fully auditable results, we can rebuild public trust. And by making it a better experience to run for office, we can attract the qualified candidates who are currently deterred from getting involved in public life.

Competitive elections will improve our economy because great new ideas will have a better chance of breaking through. When we invest in the best technologies and design better processes, we’ll establish the world’s gold standard for elections.

Policymaking: Process Improvements for Better Results

Policymaking is how the people we’ve chosen to represent us make decisions and create change. Therefore, for our country to move forward, our elected leaders must work together and put the country’s long-term interests ahead of their own personal, political, and party agendas.

By addressing the ways our elections encourage partisan politics and dependence on powerful interests, we can move beyond polarization and gridlock to collaboration and common sense. By making the process more transparent, we can understand how decisions are made and who influenced the outcome. And by enforcing clear, consistent rules around ethics and conflicts of interest, we can ensure that public servants do not enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers.

Ultimately, our institutions need rules that make sense regardless of who is in power. With a sensible policymaking process, our lawmakers will get more done and produce better results.

Government: Modern Technology and Continuous Improvement

Like an operating system that’s out of date, our government needs a major upgrade. Government can do its job better and at a lower cost, but only if we invest in long-term solutions.

By adopting best-of-breed technologies (like open data, cryptography, artificial intelligence, and many more), we can make huge leaps forward in efficiency. By applying best practices from the business and public sectors (such as agile processes, risk management, and performance metrics), we can ensure that policies succeed. And by establishing a culture of continuous improvement, we can empower public servants to take initiative and solve problems.

When we implement these common-sense solutions, we will establish a government that not only does its job, but does it well.

Ready for Liftoff

This is our vision. Now all we need is the determination to see it through. With an upgraded government and the can-do spirit of all Americans, we will unleash a new wave of innovation and shared prosperity.

Throughout our history, America’s government and businesses have come together to turn big ideas into reality. It’s time we do it again. And we know we can, because upgrading government isn’t rocket science.

This is not a left or right issue; better government is a priority for all Americans regardless of party. It’s also not a question of bigger or smaller government; it’s about government that is capable of meeting the challenges we face. And if we want a better future, all of us — from Main Street to Wall Street — must work together.

We, the undersigned, are committed to achieving America’s promise. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work. It won’t be easy, but giving up is not the American way. If you feel the same, join us.


DisruptDC is a network of business leaders advancing better government for a prosperous economy. We’re building a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to shape the public debate, support policy initiatives, and develop technology projects. To learn more, please visit DisruptDC.org.

If you’re a business leader who would like to sign this letter, please send us an email at info@disruptdc.org.


Signatories

The individuals listed below have signed this letter in their personal capacity. They do not reflect the endorsement of any organization, corporation, or entity with which they are affiliated.

Lona Alia | Founder & CEO, Style Lend
Daniel Arbess | Founder & CIO, Xerion Investments
Ethan Austin | Director, Techstars
John Balbach | Managing Partner, Adapt Capital
Joanna Barsh | Director Emerita, McKinsey & Company
Emily Baum | Founder & CEO, Keyrious
Bob Bennett | President, GroundSwell Resources
Krishna Bharat | Founder, Google News
Julianna Carella | Founder & CEO, Treatibles
James P. Clark | Founder & Chairman, The World Technology Network
Malcolm Collins | CEO, Collins Family Ventures
Simone Collins | CEO, Travelmax
Alex Cone | CEO, CodeFab
Sterling Cooley | Founder & CEO, Berkeley Ultrasound
Dr. Bruce Damer | CEO, Digital Space
Rohan Dixit | Founder & CEO, Lief Therapeutics
Lucy Caldwell Donovan | Partner, Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund
Matthew C. Douglass | Co-Founder, Practice Fusion
Helen Dragas | CEO, The Dragas Companies
Richard Eidlin | Co-Founder & VP, American Sustainable Business Council
Kristi Faulkner | Co-Founder & President, Womenkind
Howard Fluhr | Chairman Emeritus, The Segal Group
Gordon Fuller | Chief Visionary, FullerVision.com
Katherine Gehl | Former President & CEO, Gehl Foods
Simon Glinsky | Principal, The Glinsky Group
Jan Gordon | Founder & CEO, Curatti
Jordan Greenhall | Co-Founder & CEO, Neurohacker Collective
Dr. David Hanson | Founder & CEO, Hanson Robotics
Leo Hindery, Jr. | Managing Partner, InterMedia Partners
Jeff Hong | CEO, Techmana
Cy Hossain | Co-Founder & CEO, Crowdcast
Joe Hudson | Founder & Managing Director, One Earth Capital
James Felton Keith | Chairman, Int’l Personal Data Trade Association
Tim Kelley | Founder, True Purpose Institute
Alex Klokus | CEO, Futurism
Alisa Leonard | Founder & CEO, Hello Q
Robert E. Levin | Founder & CEO, Transclick
David Levitt | Founder & CEO, Pantomime Corporation
Jeanne Geier Lewis | Co-Founder & CEO, Capsure
Jeff Lieberman | Founder, Plebian Design
Aaron Lifshin | CEO, InMoment Software
Michael Lovitch | Founding Partner, Baby Bathwater Institute
Reggie Luedtke | Founder, Euterra
Matt MacInnis | Founder & CEO, Inkling
Dr. Jeffery Martin | Co-Founder, TransTech200
David Mathison | Founder & CEO, CDO Club
Lenny Mendonca | Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company
Leslie Miley | Former Engineering Leader, Slack
Chris Misner | Former GM, Apple Online Store, Asia Pacific
Scott Mize | CEO, Network Society Lab
Cynthia Murray | CEO, North Bay Leadership Council
Lincoln Nguyen | Founder & CEO, Karuna Labs
Lisa Padilla | CEO, NewPathVR
Jon Parker | Co-Founder & CTO, MineralSoft
Elizabeth Parrish | Founder & CEO, BioViva
Barney Pell | Chairman & Chief Strategy Officer, LocoMobi
Tom Perrault | Chief People Officer, MemSQL
Edmund Phelps | 2006 Nobel Laureate in Economics
Zach Phillips | Owner, The Kitchen
Doug Price | Chairman & CEO, Citizens State Banks of Colorado
Rick Raddatz | Founder, InstantTeleseminar
Dylan Ratigan | Managing Partner, Helical Holdings
Té Revesz | Principal, GlobalReach-SBI
Adam Rifkin | CEO, PandaWhale
Jason Roberts | CTO, Benefit Communications
Barry Romich | Co-Founder & Board Chair, Prentke Romich Company
Dan Rose | Chairman, Rose Associates
John Salzinger | Co-Founder, MPOWERED
Maria Sipka | Co-Founder & Chief Evangelist, Linqia
Chris Smith | Co-Founder & CEO, JunoVR
Paula Stern, Ph.D. | Founder & Chairwoman, The Stern Group
Dilawar Syed | President, Freshworks
Davia Temin | CEO, Temin and Company
Vatsal Thakkar, MD | Founder, Reimbursify
Neil Thanedar | Founder & CEO, Labdoor
Lawrence Wang | Co-Founder & CTO, Hylo
Peter Wang | Co-Founder & CTO, Continuum Analytics
Steve Wozniak | Co-Founder, Apple