Public Sector Future Podcast: Episode 5 | Challenge-based approaches to Public Sector innovation 

Episode 5 guest speaker, Jeremy Goldberg

Challenge-based approaches to Public Sector innovation

with Jeremy Goldberg

Goldberg, now part of Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector team, has worked in government for San Jose, San Francisco, and the city of New York. Most recently, he was leading technology for the Governor of New York State. We dive into his work in the New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

Episode 5: Challenge-based approaches to Public Sector innovation

Public Sector Future

Episode summary

In this episode, we explore a challenge-based approach to public sector innovation. We speak with Jeremy Goldberg about one of the projects he was responsible for in the New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. Goldberg designed and implemented a new approach to bringing bold ideas and breakthroughs into the public realm to benefit New Yorkers through NYCx Challenges.

Listen to this episode on any of these podcast platforms:

Challenge based approaches to Public Sector innovation

We speak with Jeremy Goldberg about one of the projects he was responsible for in the New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. 

Goldberg designed & implemented a new approach to bringing bold ideas into the public realm to benefit New Yorkers.

NYCx Challenges is dedicated to improving service delivery through tech, spurring economic growth through new civic tech jobs, increasing digital inclusion efforts, and making urban spaces test beds for new technologies.


That is the greatest thing one can do, as you’re driving innovation from within the public sector, is to share. We all have a responsibility here to solve these big problems.
– Jeremy Goldberg

NYCx Challenges

“The objective and vision was to call upon tech pioneers to make New York City the most fair, equitable, and sustainable city in the world,” Goldberg explained.

The program benefits New Yorkers receiving these new services as well as businesses who get the opportunity to bring their new technology to life. In turn it benefits other governments who can replicate NYCx wins in their municipalities.

NYCx Challenges are based around two different types of challenges: Moonshots and Co-Lab (community) challenges that engage the tech industry to help solve real-world problems.

Diving into NYCx Moonshot challenges

Moonshot programing was developed to invite global problem solvers to partner with the city, and to develop and test these solutions to pressing real-life challenges with the goal of using the tech to improve lives.

Goldberg highlights a Moonshot challenge that was focused on cybersecurity and New York City’s small businesses.

“This challenge sought to support the development and deployment of innovative and affordable solutions that ensure the city’s small businesses are resilient to cyberthreats,” Goldberg said.

This meant looking at the points of sale, from how credit card transactions were made to bookkeeping methods, like files stored on hard drives, and how to ensure these common practices were not easily accessible to cyberattacks. 

This Moonshot challenge was launched with a half dozen internal agency partners in New York City, and nearly a dozen international partners that represented local and national government leaders from Paris, London, Helsinki, Berlin, Japan, Israel and industry experts from Jerusalem Venture Partners and the Global Cyber Alliance.

Goldberg recalled this was the most successful challenge at the time, with over 170 proposals submitted and several compelling incentives, including acceptance into New York City’s economic development, cyber accelerator. There was support for international market expansion and a large investment from venture partners.

At the conclusion of the challenge, when selections for the partners were made, New York City launched the first of its kind training for small businesses to complement the solutions.

“That’s an example of where we really tackled something that is affecting not only small businesses, but folks around the globe, and really focused on the individual New Yorker,” Goldberg said. 

Goldberg also highlighted a challenge focused on climate.

Codifying challenges to be leveraged around the globe

The challenges were codified to ensure there was a knowledge bank available so that others around the world could utilize it and that it could be something any agency could adopt.

“The approach was what’s something that’s repeatable, scalable and available to our colleagues and our partners in any city that is wanting, willing, eager to learn from us and to take it and do it themselves,” Goldberg explained.

In partnership with Cornell Tech, a Moonshot Launchpad Playbook was developed as a methodology for designing the Moonshot challenges, which is available to anyone.

“That is the greatest thing one can do, as you’re driving innovation from within the public sector, is to share. We all have a responsibility here to solve these big problems,” Goldberg said.

Advice for public servants looking to set up a similar challenge program within their government 

Goldberg breaks down his lessons learned throughout the NYCx Challenges program into actionable steps.

  • Leverage the Moonshot Launchpad Playbook as a resource. 
  • Look to your predecessors, show respect for their work, and learn from their actions. 
  • Pay attention to the things you’ve tried and document your work from successes to failures so you can constantly improve upon them. 
  • Gain support from a senior champion to help allow for buy-in to experiment.
  • Showcase your progress with frequent reports. 
  • Leverage successful partnerships to spread the word of your shared success.

To find out more:

NYCx Challenges

NYCx Moonshot Launchpad Playbook

NYCx Cybersecurity Moonshot Challenge

Follow Jeremy Goldberg on Twitter

Building Future Cities: Learn more from Jeremy as he meets with representatives from Bogota, Colombia and London, United Kingdom to talk about the future of smart cities

About the Center of Expertise

Microsoft’s Public Sector Center of Expertise brings together thought leadership and research relating to digital transformation in the public sector. The Center of Expertise highlights the efforts and success stories of public servants around the globe, while fostering a community of decision makers with a variety of resources from podcasts and webinars to white papers and new research. Join us as we discover and share the learnings and achievements of public sector communities.

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