Tom Shack has an unusual background for his job. Most state comptrollers have worked exclusively in finance and accounting. Before becoming comptroller of Massachusetts in 2015, Shack went to law school, taught college courses in entrepreneurship, and became an assistant district attorney.
When Shack took over the comptroller’s office, which has administrative and audit oversight over every state government agency, he quickly recognized an issue that he’s been trying to address ever since.
“One of the things I noticed right away, when working for government, is that there’s complete risk-aversion,” he says. “You have to be able to manage risk and avoid it when necessary.”
That tendency, he says, holds back innovation and progress. He and his staff have even made up a word for the phenomenon: “innovocracy, which in our vernacular means that though the government has come up with great innovative ideas, it then imposes a bureaucratic framework, thus crushing any entrepreneurial spirit associated with the idea.”