Presidential Innovation Fellows Program bridges private sector & government

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Presidential Innovation Fellows Program Director Benjamin Willman and Deputy Director Joshua Di Frances detail how the fellows are bringing industry perspectives to government problem-solving and what the program’s future will look like.


The Presidential Innovation Fellows program is put on annually by the General Services Administration, to bring experienced talent into government, and provide a new outlook on issues affecting agencies. Benjamin Willman, director of the PIF program, says that the fellows are matched up with offices that could use their skillsets.

 

“The mission is basically that we bring in top technologists, innovators from the private sector and they team up with leaders in government to work on some of the nation’s hardest problems,” said Willman. “We’ve been doing this for about six years. The fellows [have] had a lot of successes across about a half-dozen agencies. They stay for one to four years and they really try to bring into the government skills that the government has a hard time hiring on their own.”

 

“We have an amazing group of individuals — product managers, designers, strategists, developers and subject matter experts,” said Joshua Di Frances, deputy director of the PIF program. “Right now we have folks at the National Institute of Health working on the All of Us research initiative… and the goal is to build the nation’s largest biomedical data set. We also have folks at the Department of Veterans Affairs and they’re working to deliver better digital experiences to our nation’s veterans. We’ve had amazing fellows throughout these years.”