Seattle’s former chief geek: City needs a chief innovation officer

Mayor Mike McGinn discusses the Pioneer Square broadband project with City of Seattle CTO Bill Schrier

Mayor Mike McGinn discusses the Pioneer Square broadband project with former City of Seattle CTO Bill Schrier

Crosscut is continuing their wonderful series by asking leaders in the Seattle community what they’d do if they were mayor. Today’s edition features a former political insider: Bill Schrier.

Schrier, the former CTO for the City of Seattle, stepped down last April after more than 30 years of service to the city.

So, what does he propose?

For one, he’d appoint a Chief Innovation Officer, a person who’d tap into the best ideas emerging in the startup and technology communities and put them to work in government. The CIO also could help “cut through bureaucracy entrenched in city departments” to figure out more efficient ways to deliver service.

Next up on Schrier’s list is a “strong COO” who could “break down the walls” in city government.

Mayor McGinn’s office is taking steps to reach out to the startup community, with plans to hire a startup business liaison and relaunch the Web site Startup Seattle as part of his new Startup Initiative. (Note: I served on the advisory committee for the Mayor’s effort, but am no longer involved).

Schrier concludes:

“We live in a phenomenal City in a beautiful natural environment and a stimulating hub of technology and innovation. But too often our City government operates in a traditional, bureaucratic, siloed ‘business as usual’ fashion,” he writes. “With this mayoral campaign, let’s shake that up.”

More from Schrier here. Seattle angel investor Andy Sack was previously featured in the Crosscut column, pointing out the importance of computer science education and a revitalized University District and waterfront.