Government employees with technical degrees perform their jobs according to their specific written performance appraisal and job description. Sometimes, because they are too close to their immediate work, they themselves cannot see where innovation in their own area might be made. As a counterpoint, an employee with advanced technical knowledge and enthusiasm might have good ideas that are readily applicable to another government laboratory or enterprise, but the employee is reluctant to discuss this with their immediate supervisors, for fear of being perceived as not concentrating on their own job.
I propose that an optional "20%" other technical activities be included in a Government employee's Job description, subject to normal supervisory and HR negotiation as to when and how this is to occur.
The benefit to the Government will be new, fresh, ideas, and increased patent and technology research and development, without new contracts and programs required, at least in the early phases of innovation.