Presidential Innovation Fellows Announced

Today, Federal CTO Todd Park formally launched the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Over the next few weeks, the Fellows will be blogging more in-depth about their program here on GovLoop, and working to share their best practices and tell their story how they are working to transform government.

The Presidential Innovation Fellows program has five projects that will launch in 2012, the website states the goal of the project is “To improve the lives of the American people, saving taxpayer money, and fueling job creation. This is innovation aimed at making a difference for all Americans.”

The five projects are MyGov, which the White House briefly describes as, “Reimagine the relationship between the federal government and its citizens through an online footprint developed not just for the people, but also by the people.”

MyGov Fellows

• Kara DeFrias – User experience writer from TurboTax San Diego, CA
• Phil Ashlock – Open government program manager and co-founder of Civic Commons, Brooklyn, NY
• Danny Chapman – Award-winning website designer, Riverside, RI
• Greg Gershman – Software engineer and serial entrepreneur Baltimore, MD
• Ben Balter – Software engineer, Washington, DC

The second program mentioned is, Open Data Initiatives, described as, “Stimulate a rising tide of innovation and entrepreneurship that utilizes government data to create tools that help Americans in numerous ways – e.g., apps and services that help people find the right health care provider, identify the college that provides the best value for their money, save money on electricity bills through smarter shopping, or keep their families safe by knowing which products have been recalled.”

Open Data Initiatives Fellows

• Ian Kalin – Navy veteran and managing director of an energy sector startup, San Francisco, CA
• Marina Martin – Web developer and business efficiency expert, Seattle, WA
• Raphael Majma – Open data researcher, Brooklyn, NY
• Nick Bramble – Director, Law & Media Program, Information Society Project at Yale Law School, New Haven, CT
• Dmitry Kachaev – Software engineer, Arlington, VA
• Nathaniel Manning – Robotics entrepreneur and member of the World Economic Forum’s Personal Data team and Google’s Data Colloquium team, San Francisco, CA

The third is the extremely successful Blue Button Initiative by the VA. The White House states, “Develop apps and create awareness of tools that help individuals get access to their personal health records — current medications and drug allergies, claims and treatment data, and lab reports – that can improve their health and healthcare.”

Blue Button Fellows

• Henry Wei, MD – Practicing doctor and informatics expert, New York, NY
• Ryan Panchadsaram – Founder of Pipette, San Francisco, CA
• Matt McCall – Information systems expert, Baltimore, MD

The fourth initiative looks to reform the RFP process and help small business navigate the federal government. This program is called RFP-EZ and briefly described as, “Build a platform that makes it easier for small high-growth businesses to navigate the federal government, and enables agencies to quickly source low-cost, high-impact information technology solutions.”

RFP-EZ Fellows:

• Clay Johnson – Best-selling author, open government technologist and entrepreneur, Washington, DC
• Jed Wood – Interaction designer, web developer, and entrepreneur, Chicago, IL
• Adam Becker – Web developer and co-founder of civic engagement startup GovHub, Oakland, CA

The final program of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program is the 20% Campaign, which looks to “Create a system that enables US government programs to seamlessly move from making cash payments to support foreign policy, development assistance, government operations or commercial activities to using electronic payments such as mobile devices, smart cards and other methods.”

The 20% Initiative Fellows:

• Karl Mehta – Serial entrepreneur and founder of PlaySpan, Fremont, CA

The event was streamed on and the Twitter hashtag #innovategov was used. Federal CTO, Todd Park, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeff Zients, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management John Berry, and U.S. Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel, attended the event.

The Technology Fellows Program website states:

The Technology Fellows Program seeks to cut bureaucratic barriers to entering public service and providing access to unique career opportunities in Federal Agencies to highly talented technology professionals. By partnering directly with universities with wellrecognized technology programs, the Federal Government will tap into the emerging talent pool and begin to build a sustainable pipeline of talent.”

Under the first federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, the 25-point plan was developed, which the Technology Fellows Program was derived from. The new Technology Fellows Program acknowledges that one critical way to make government more transparent, participatory and collaborative is to provide unique career opportunities to talented technology professionals to attract them to public service.

In a recent White House blog, Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel mentioned there has been substantial interest in the program, as he states, “There has been a groundswell of interest in the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, with 700 applicants for Fellows positions, and over 4,000 people in total expressing interest in following (and contributing to) their progress.”

This is an exciting program to keep an eye on, and the projects that the Innovation Fellows are working on hold great promise to transform government. Congratulations to the Fellows and best of luck.

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David B. Grinberg

That’s sure a long list of Fellows, Pat. I hope Dannielle doesn’t see it, since she apparently thinks we don’t need much more innovation, according to her blog post.

I say, innovate away! One never knows where the next Steve Jobs will come from.

Pat Fiorenza

I also got a pamphlet with all the Fellows biographic information, they have some remarkable skills they are bringing into government. It’s great to see so many people come into government with such great skills. Excited to see what results they produce, it’s a great initiative.