Presidential Innovation Fellows: “An Incredible Opportunity to Do Incredible Things”

Tom Gavin photo

“An incredible opportunity to do incredible things.”

That’s how U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel described the launch of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program today at the White House.  Steven and U.S. CTO Todd Park introduced the first-ever Presidential Innovation Fellows class today – a group of 18 people selected from more than 700 applicants.  Their mission:  develop game-changing approaches to vexing challenges through the use of technology and data, and ingenuity and imagination.

There is no part of our lives that innovative technologies have not touched in some way.  From education to health care, from calling home to video chatting around the world, innovation is the constant.  It is always there, and it is always adapting to meet our needs.  But one place that innovation hasn’t transformed as much as it can is the U.S. federal government.  There are enormous resources available online, and very talented people work to streamline services and improve operations each day.  But the reality of federal bureaucracy has not yet experienced the full force of innovation’s power.

Enter the Presidential Innovation Fellows.

These women and men will apply their talents to challenges like speeding international assistance to people in remote disaster areas to sparking a next generation of apps and services that benefit people across the country.  They’ll draw from their significant private sector and NGO experiences and focus their expertise to replace government silos with effective solutions.  Here are the specific projects that #innovategov is taking on.

  • @ProjectMyGov will create a rapid prototype of a streamlined online system that citizens will be able to use to easily access the information and services that are right for them from across the federal government.
  • @ProjectOpenData will accelerate and expand our efforts to make government data more publicly accessible in “computer-readable” form and spur the use of those data by entrepreneurs as fuel for the creation of new products, services, and jobs.
  • @ProjectTwenty will work to transition “the last mile” of international development assistance payments from cash to electronic methods – lowering administrative costs, promoting financial inclusion, and reducing theft, fraud, and violence.
  • @ProjectRFPEZ will develop a new process and online marketplace that will make it vastly easier for the government and small high-growth tech startups to do business with each other, effectively opening up the government market to these startups as never before and enabling the government to buy better, lower-cost tech solutions from the full range of American businesses. 
  • @ProjectBlueBtn will spread the ability for millions of Americans to easily and securely download their own health information electronically, empowering them to take that information with them should they change insurer or provider and share it with their loved ones or doctors if they choose, all while fueling the emergence of time-saving, money-saving, and even life-saving products and the businesses and jobs that those products will support.

It’s quite an inaugural class of Presidential Innovation Fellows.  We wish them well and look forward to seeing their progress.

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