The White House Blog

New Round of Innovators Joins US Government to Tackle Big Challenges

We are thrilled to welcome 43 incredible Americans as new Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIFs), here to serve 6- to 12-month intensive “tours of duty” in the US Government, where they will work hand-in-hand with top government innovators to develop solutions that can save lives, save taxpayer money, and help fuel private-sector job creation. 

The PIF program was created in 2012 to tackle five inaugural projects—each focused on making a part of the Federal Government work better for the American people.  In keeping with the “lean startup” philosophy of the PIF program, the 18 individuals who were selected from around the Nation to take on those challenges produced significant results in a matter of months, not years.  

A case in point is RFP-EZ, a new system created by one of the inaugural PIF teams that simplifies how the Federal Government asks for bids on services like building websites.  Before RFP-EZ, most such Requests for Proposals contained highly specialized language that only seasoned government contractors understood, and companies seeking to bid on projects were asked to fulfill a myriad of bureaucratic requirements before even being considered.  By removing these obstacles, RFP-EZ has opened up the bidding process to hundreds of small businesses offering services at significantly lower prices.  RFP-EZ has yielded very promising results and is already saving taxpayer dollars, with prospects for even more savings going forward.

For Round 2 of the PIF program, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have partnered with the US General Services Administration (GSA).  Through this new partnership with GSA, which already works with every agency in the Federal Government, the prototype solutions that PIFs build will spread more efficiently throughout Government, enabling the program’s positive outcomes to reach more people more quickly.

Some of the tech innovators and change-agents who comprise the new class of Fellows will work on second phases of Round 1 PIF projects such as Blue Button (which is helping veterans and others across the country gain secure electronic access to their own personal health records); Open Data (which is making more and more government information like car safety ratings and hospital pricing available for use by the American people, including entrepreneurs and software developers who are turning those data into useful products and services); MyUSA (which is greatly simplifying the Web interface that citizens can use to find what they need from the Federal Government); and RFP-EZ. 

Others will work on new projects, such as developing tech tools to support disaster relief and recovery efforts; working with private-sector innovators to create consensus tech standards for the “Internet of Things,” which will connect a wide range of devices with embedded sensors and control systems, with big potential efficiencies and cost-savings; and helping Federal agencies save money through better, more cost-effective financial accounting systems.  

Presidential Innovation Fellows put aside their jobs and day-to-day home lives to offer their skills and expertise in collaboration with Federal agency teammates to create huge value for the American public. 

Please join us in welcoming the Round 2 Fellows!  Click here to meet them, and to find out where they come from and what they’ll be doing.

The Presidential Innovation Fellows program shows what is possible when we all come together with complementary skills and a shared passion to make our country a better place.

If you’re interested in helping to move the ball forward on PIF projects, please get involved!  You can learn about current and future rounds of the PIF program at whitehouse.gov/innovationfellows, contribute code on GitHub, or visit Data.gov to help turn openly available government data into new products, services, and jobs.

We can’t wait to see what will be accomplished in the months to come. 

Jennifer Pahlka is Deputy US Chief Technology Officer for Government Innovation

Dan Tangherlini is Acting Administrator of the US General Services Administration