2023 Rising Star: Wendy Harman

Senior director of CX Strategy, ICF

Courtesy: Wendy Harman

Wendy Harman was a key player in a multiyear effort to modernize the National Institutes of Health's ClinicalTrials.gov website and the affiliated Protocols Registration System through which researchers share data on clinical studies. The website, which dates back to the early days of digital government, is a key link for researchers and individuals seeking information about federally supported and private sector clinical trials covering an array of diseases. Harman's work on the website, nominators said, is a model of how human-centered design should inform modernization. 

Harman's work included outreach to internal and external stakeholder groups, reaching more than 60 organizations and including more than 100 usability testers. The effort also involved one-on-one interviews with more than 70 members of external user groups, including patients and advocates. Her approach, colleagues say, supports trust in government through effective change management and stakeholder communications.  

The modernized ClinicalTrials.gov website launched in 2023 and was the culmination of a multiyear effort to improve user experience. The new website incorporates the U.S. Web Design system and is optimized for mobile devices.

Harman has an ideal background for this kind of work. She was selected to serve as a Presidential Innovation Fellow in 2016 and compiled a record of significant accomplishments leading customer experience teams at the General Services Administration, where the PIF program is based. She has worked to improve outcomes in government programs covering disaster response, farm loans, affordable housing and more. Also as a PIF, Harman served as an expert on human-centered design in an effort to develop best practices to help keep individuals suffering from mental illness or habitual substance abuse out of the prison system. Her work included interviews with law enforcement and emergency frontline personnel to identify protocols to de-escalate crisis situations that might otherwise result in arrest and incarceration.

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