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White House Kicks Off Recruiting For New Class of Innovation Fellows

Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com

Calling all “badass innovators.”

The White House is officially taking applications for a fourth class of agency entrepreneurs-in-residence under the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.  

The kickoff of recruiting efforts was announced Thursday in a White House blog post by Deputy Chief Technology Officer Ryan Panchadsaram, and Garren Givens, the director of the fellows program and deputy executive director of the General Services Administration’s 18F digital startup.

“As always, the fellows will focus on national priorities, leveraging the best principles and practices of the innovation economy to help create positive impact in the span of months, not years,” Panchadsaram and Given said. “This is an opportunity to truly transform how government works for the people it serves.”

Started by former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park in 2012 -- Park said the Obama administration was looking for the “baddest of the badasses out there” -- the innovation fellowship program consists of small teams of resourceful outsiders embedded in agencies to work on specific tech projects in short-term stints.

If the concept sounds familiar, it’s because the administration has since spun out the idea, creating both GSA’s 18F team -- co-founded by Givens and his 18F boss, Greg Godbout -- and the  U.S. Digital Service in the image of the fellowship program.

Recruiting for the innovation fellows coincides with a big hiring push at USDS.

The White House office aims to help agencies navigate through complex technology project and help fix problems before they balloon into fiascos like HealthCare.gov. The administration is now planning to inculcate similar digital service teams at nearly every federal agency.

The fellowship program is operated out of 18F, but works hand in hand with USDS, officials say.

According to the blog post, projects the future PIFs will work include:

  • Education: Fellows will work with myriad agencies to help make education more accessible to more Americans.
  • Jobs and the economy: Fellows will work on fueling the economy and stimulating job growth through innovation and improved opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes.
  • Climate change: Fellows will help our country and its communities prepare for the impacts of climate change.
  • Health and patient care: Fellows will leverage innovation to save lives, provide better access to benefits and programs promoting quality of life.

The current crop of 27 innovation fellows were selected in September out of some 1,000 applicants.

Nearly a third of the current-year fellows are working on digital projects at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Others are working on data innovation initiatives at the Departments of Energy, Labor, State, the Census Bureau and NASA; and crowdsourcing initiatives at the National Archives and Records Administration and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, among others.

Potential innovators can apply online anytime throughout the year, according to the blog post. 18F will evaluate applications on a rolling basis.

(Image via Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com)

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