As of 20 January, President Obama signed the TALENT Act of 2017 (H.R.39) into law as one of his last acts as President.
This bill was a bipartisan effort supported by a majority of Republicans and Democrats in both the Senate and House. The Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program is a nonpartisan program designed to “attract the brightest minds skilled in technology or innovative practices…to serve a tour of duty” to effect change in the government for the betterment of the people. There is and will always be a pressing need for innovation within the federal government, and through the PIF program, that innovation will endure.
The passing of H.R. 39 means that Executive Order No. 13704, which originally created the program, will continue to be an important part of the government that “enable[s] exceptional individuals with proven track records to serve time-limited appointments in executive agencies to address some of the nation’s most significant challenges and improve existing government efforts that would particularly benefit from expertise using innovative techniques and technology”.
Since 2012, the Presidential Innovation Fellows have tackled these challenges:
- Created Every Kid in a Park, a program that gave over 2 million free passes to 4th graders to increase enjoyment of our wonderful national parks
- Helped rescue Healtcare.gov
- Founded 18F to build effective, user-centric digital services focused on the interaction between government and the people and businesses it serves
- Unlocked silo’d data during Hurricane Sandy to share information via social media about which gas stations and schools were open
- Developed openFDA to unlock millions of files on drug side effects
- Founded the White House student film festival
- Opened data and innovated crowdsourced design at the IRS
- Improved the appeals process at the VA
- Mobilized $4 Billion in private-sector clean energy pledges
- Developed Lantern Live Mobile Application to help survivors find gas and power during disasters
- Allowed private citizens to download their health records through Blue Button
- Created the Veterans Experience Office
- Decreased disaster assessment time with GeoQ
- Innovated our nation’s historic treasures at the Smithsonian
- Improved our nation’s energy efficiency through the Green Button and Smart Citiesinitiatives
- Globally Developed Open Data with MCC/USDA/USAID
- Supported asteroid hunting and citizen science
- Founded the Police Data Initiative, a community of practice of more than 130 police departments who have collectively released more than 175 data sets on police activities in order to build trust, increase accountability and paint a more complete picture of the complexity of modern policing
- Hosted the first White House Mapathon and set policy of commitment to open mapping
- Created the VA Innovators Network
- Accelerated the adoption of digital acquisition practices
- Made National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration data available to the public at no net cost to the government, to enable private sector innovation and economic growth
… and the list continues to grow.
With the TALENT Act of 2017 strongly supported by both the House and the Senate, future generations of innovators who might not have originally worked in the government will bring new ideas, developments, and technologies to the government in ways that can improve the lives of the American people. You can learn more about the PIF program at https://presidentialinnovationfellows.gov/.
To contact alumni of the program or to learn more about about the experience and what the alumni are doing now, contact the Presidential Innovation Fellows Foundation. Visit https://www.presidentialinnovation.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org .