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FCW : September 15, 2014
Garren Givens was still in the process of completing his Presidential Innova- tion Fellowship when he was asked several months ago to help the General Services Administration design a better process for selecting fellows. More than 1,000 applications poured in for the approximately 30 spots in the program’s third round, and the winning applicants were due to be named at the end of August. “The program attracts many different types of people — great innovators and technologists, but also people who are driven to serve their country in a really unique capacity,” said Givens, who is now director of the PIF program. “It’s a very rich and exciting problem to have, to get this huge pool of people down to 20, 30 or 40 people.” He came to government with years of experience as a management consul- tant and product strategist. Like many PIFs, he was also involved in the start- up world. He said he wanted to “take what I was working on in consumer Internet and apply some of those concepts and methodologies to the federal govern- ment. You can take those same skills and start using your kung fu for good, A new direction for Presidential Innovation Fellows growth in global technology spending is projected by Forrester Research for 2015 5.6% Trending and insert a really meaningful mission to create technology that hopefully delivers a profound and lasting impact.” Givens said he is focusing on bring- ing more diversity to the program. In the second round, more than half of the fellows were white men, and the percentage was even higher in the first round. “We want a group of people that somewhat represents the needs of the people they’re trying to serve,” Givens said. “Our team should look and be rep- resentative of America.” In addition, unlike other rounds in which PIFs were dropped into an agency and assigned a specific project and timeline, the third round will be more flexible with somewhat blurred project boundaries. PIFs will not spend the entire fel- lowship at one agency. Instead, they will be deployed as needed to different agencies and projects. Givens also wants to develop a new way of talking about what PIFs do. “We’ve moved away from some of the language that used to follow the pro- gram around like ‘dropping innova- tors and fellows into agencies’ [and] ‘parachuting in,’” he said. He added that such phrases imply that fellows are coming in to save the day, with negative implications for those being parachuted in upon, and PIFs should instead be thought of as consultants. Givens said the PIF program has been a successful recruiting mecha- nism: About two dozen former fellows are now working in government. PIFs who want to stay might find a home at 18F, led by former PIF Greg Godbout, or other innovation labs springing up across government. “The PIFs will have far more sup- port than they’ve ever had in the past from like-minded individuals who understand lean start-up methodolo- gy, user-centered approach and agile,” Givens said. — Colby Hochmuth FCW CALENDAR Cybersecurity DHS’ Peter Fonash joins a wide range of private-sector cyber experts for the “Rock Stars of Cybersecurity” conference. Austin, Texas. http://is.gd/FCW_rockstar Health IT Dr. Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT, will keynote this FCW event on digital records and the next stage of meaningful use. Washington, D.C . http://fcw.com/f2fhealthit 9/24 9/17 NASCIO Conference Federal IT leaders are welcome at the annual gathering of the National Association of State CIOs. Big data and industry partnerships are among the focus areas. Nashville, Tenn. http://is.gd/FCW_nascio 9/28-10/1 September 15, 2014 FCW.COM 3 “The PIFs will have far more support than they’ve ever had in the past from like- minded individuals.” — GARREN GIVENS
September 30, 2014
August 30, 2014