The ideas will be evaluated by city officials, including representatives of the mayor's office. They will be looking, the city says, for plans that are both original and achievable: proposed innovations should be capable of being both implemented and evaluated within a year of funding.
Los Angeles, say city officials, will be looking for creative insights like the one cited by Mayor Eric Garcetti in his 2014 State of the City speech: One parks employee, frustrated that the air conditioner ran all night in his local gym, bought parts and installed a switch-and-timer to control it. Such "Red Buttons" have since become an official city program.
"People in any organization are often thinking, 'You know, I have a good idea about how to change this or that,' " says Abhi Nemani, the city's chief data officer. "But often they don't have the leadership or buy-in from their employer to get it done."
The city of Los Angeles's internal innovation fund fits into a broader trend: putting private industry's tools and techniques for generating innovation to work in the the public sector. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services runs a "Shark Tank"-style competition among its 90,000 employees. And September saw the launch of a $23 million venture capital fund focused solely at backing companies aimed at improving government IT.