NB_130_22_5 - NB 130-22-5 AGN – Solicitation of Applications for Innovation Ambassadors to the NRCS of the Future Team
NB 130-22-5 AGN – Solicitation of Applications for Innovation Ambassadors to the NRCS of the Future Team
National Bulletin: 130-22-5 Date: April 27, 2022
Subject: AGN – Solicitation of Applications for Innovation Ambassadors to the NRCS of the Future Team

Purpose.  This bulletin announces the launch of the Employee Innovation Portal and solicits applications for innovation ambassadors to the NRCS of the Future (NOTF) team.
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2022
Background.  In 2018, NRCS launched the NOTF team to empower field staff to drive innovation and change within the Agency. The NOTF team is led by the national innovation leader and facilitates the nationwide discovery, incubation, and acceleration of best practices and ideas for delivery of NRCS conservation assistance.

NRCS staff are continually developing creative ideas and solutions for promoting NRCS goals. In response to the request for a way to share knowledge across geographically dispersed offices, garner executive-level championship, and connect innovators with resources to drive national adoption of proven innovations, the NOTF team developed the Employee Innovation Portal, which will launch in April 2022. NRCS employees and eAuthenticated partners can submit innovations or ideas through the portal, which NHQ subject matter experts will review, share, and consider for national implementation.

The NOTF team is seeking innovation ambassadors to help evaluate, pilot, and implement innovations. There are no grade or position requirements; the team’s goal is to recruit diverse perspectives across NRCS.
Responsibilities.  NRCS employees and partners are encouraged to submit their innovative ideas, tools, and process improvements to the Employee Innovation Portal. Once an innovation is submitted, innovation ambassadors will be asked to review, rate, and comment on the submissions. Innovations submitted to the portal may cover a wide array of subjects, spanning from soil health and engineering to easements and outreach. Due to the variety of innovations we are seeking, we need a wide range of experience and expertise among our reviewers. Innovation ambassadors will select which innovations they review and will rate these based on their knowledge and expertise in that subject area. By crowdsourcing ratings to innovation ambassadors, the NOTF team can better understand which ideas may greatly impact field operations, inform new projects, and help prioritize initiatives.

The time commitment to review and rate innovative ideas, tools, and process improvements is expected to be 3-8 hours each quarter and will vary based on the types of innovations that are submitted to the portal. Employees should discuss their interest in becoming an innovation ambassador with their supervisor and affirm their supervisor’s approval before signing up as an innovation ambassador in the Employee Innovation Portal.

In addition to reviewing, rating, and commenting on innovations in the portal, innovation ambassadors will also have the opportunity to participate in nationwide innovation projects. The roster of innovation ambassadors will be utilized as a “virtual bench” for agency leaders to offer special project opportunities to staff with relevant experience. The anticipated time commitment for these special projects will vary depending on the project and will also require supervisory approval. For example, the NOTF team and other agency leaders may issue competitive solicitations to innovation ambassadors to refine and tailor project requirements, pilot innovations, and support nationwide implementation.  

How to participate.  NRCS employees and partners may express interest in becoming an innovation ambassador by signing up on the Employee Innovation Portal in the “Get Involved” section. Employees will be asked to create a profile and select their areas of interest or expertise. Innovation ambassadors will then receive communications from the NOTF Employee Innovation Portal Project team, access to idea submissions, and opportunities to participate in NOTF focus groups or meetings. Innovation ambassadors may review, rate, and comment on submissions as they come in or, at minimum, once per quarter.
Contact.  For information, please contact Christine Hall, National Innovation Leader, at christine.hall@usda.gov.

Associate Chief

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