Checking in on the Presidential Innovation Fellows

Here’s what they’ve accomplished in five months.

As they pass the five month mark of their six month tours of duty, it’s a good time to check in on what the Presidential Innovation Fellows are up to.

For anyone who forgot, the innovation fellows are U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park’s take on the entrepreneur in residence model. They’re experts and entrepreneurs from outside government who were brought on at different agencies in August and given six months to solve a single, thorny government problem.

Here’s the account so far:

  • One “discovery toolbar” from the Project MyGov team that crawls the federal Web to offer government websites visitors recommendations about related sites regardless of what agency hosts them
  • One new website, called, that surfaces the most used and useful open government data so interested developers can find it without starting from square one.
  • Four Small Business Administration contracts being bid on the pilot of RFP-EZ, a simplified government contracting site
  • Numerous government-funded competitions to redesign the patient health record interface for doctors and pharmacists and to encourage health care professionals to install that interface on their computers

These are mostly phase one projects, of course. The true test will be whether agencies install the discovery toolbar on their websites, whether the broader developer community hooks into, whether agencies shift to RFP-EZ for their small business contracts and whether doctors, pharmacists and others embrace simpler electronic health records.

The list so far is a positive, though, in the can government ever be the solution debate.