We are living in an era of declining faith and trust in our institutions. This problem, experienced acutely by our younger generations, raises important challenges for government.  Innovation is key to both reimagining and reforming how our institutions can become more trustworthy and effective. Over my career, I’ve worked in depth on issues related to innovation, entrepreneurship, technological change, and the law.  

As our next Attorney General, I’m committed to a new vision of how our Attorney General serves the people of Colorado, defends our freedoms, fights for opportunities for all, and protects our land, air, and water.

Technological change is not a choice.  It’s a reality we must embrace. The iPhone, only ten years old, has transformed commerce, is giving rise to new industries, and disrupting established ones (think: how we travel, communicate, and buy products and services).  Citizens rightfully expect that our government will get smarter and be more nimble too.

All too often, government fails to embrace the digital age.  For example, when people file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office here in Colorado, explaining that they were ripped off, they often don’t hear back for several weeks.  If you file a complaint with Amazon.com, by contrast, your complaint is acknowledged immediately and brought to the attention of a real person who can evaluate how to respond. We need to develop the same sorts of programs at the Attorney General’s office to best serve Colorado’s consumers.  To create such systems, and drive innovation in the AG’s Office more generally, I will create our State AG’s first Chief Innovation Officer position. By doing so, we will make Colorado a national model for using data analytics, engaging our citizens, and enforcing our laws effectively, creatively, and efficiently.

When I am Colorado’s next Attorney General, I will evaluate how the office can develop and support new solutions to address a range of issues facing our state—from protecting our land, air, and water to standing up for consumers to safeguarding public safety and addressing the opioid crisis.  The AG’s office can be a driver and a partner for innovation, either directly or by supporting innovative private sector or non-profit initiatives. Consider, for example, the Safe2Tell program, which allows children to report anonymous tips ranging from suicide threats to possible school attacks.  This innovative initiative began as a standalone program in 2004 and was eventually incorporated into the AG’s Office.  By supporting programs like Safe2Tell and working with innovative non-profit programs like Crime Stoppers, which provides community education outreach related to crime prevention, the AG’s Office can advance its mission in creative ways and effectively engage the community.

To tap into Colorado’s spirit of entrepreneurial leadership, I founded the Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator program to transform governmental approaches to problem solving.  Over the last two years, this program has worked with the State of Colorado and the City of Denver to identify challenging issues and to pioneer new solutions presented to State and City officials.  During that time, it has developed innovative solutions to addressing the opioid epidemic, transportation for homeless individuals, and getting broadband access to low-income school children.   In addition to developing innovative solutions, the teams of governmental professionals and students in this program receive valuable training and mentorship. This inspires them to innovate in their work and accelerates their professional development.  For a recent report on this program, see this article.

As our next Attorney General, I will also work with private sector and non-profit groups to provide consumers with guidance on what products and services they can trust.  One critical role government can play to ensure that claims made by companies can be certified.  After all, in industries where consumers cannot trust what some companies promise, as is the case in for-profit education, the entire industry suffers.  For certification programs—like the LEED building standard or the Energy Star program—to work, they need a watchdog on the case to look out for consumers.  As our next Attorney General, I will ensure that such certification programs work effectively, making sure that consumers get what they pay for and enabling such innovative public-private partnerships.  

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We in Colorado have a great opportunity to draw on our pioneering and innovative spirit by electing leaders who are committed to an entrepreneurial approach to government.  My track record of such leadership, inside and outside of government, goes back two decades, through my work with leaders here in Colorado to start new programs and solve problems to my work in the Obama Administration.  The Governmental Entrepreneurial Leadership Accelerator program is just one of many examples.  With your help, I can bring that spirit to our Attorney General’s office.

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Bernie Buescher, Former Deputy Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Representative from Grand Junction, and a lawyer in private practice and an entrepreneur

Aneesh Chopra, Former Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to President Barack Obama