Dev

Obama’s Innovation Fellowship is bringing startup folks to the gov’t table

Above: President Barack Obama meets with Presidential Innovation Fellows in the Roosevelt Room.

Image Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

It’s official: the applications for the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows program are now open for the third round!

The program, which pairs fellows ranging from venture capitalists to all kinds of “geek” types with government agencies, launched two years ago and aims to leverage the tech industry’s lean startup know-how and creative thinking to improve Americans’ lives and government process.

Every round contains specific projects addressing a broader theme, and this time, projects will focus on digitizing the relationship between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and our veterans, making further use of the federal government’s open data, and increasing crowdsourcing efforts to improve government.

Leading this program is Jen Pahlka, who is most known for founding Code for America, a non-profit aiming to bring web industry professionals and city governments to solve municipal problems.

The program’s previous rounds were deemed extremely successful. Past fellows have helped expand the Blue Button Initiative, which helps Americans access their healthcare information online in a more secure fashion. The fellows’ work resulted in the initiative reaching more than 150 million Americans.

Another team of fellows developed a crowdsourcing platform that allows people to transcribe handwritten documents and records. The team developed and launched the entire system in just six months, and it has resulted in more than 3,000 transcribed historic and scientific documents by volunteers.

As the new round opens its doors, we can applaud our government for efforts such as this program — and hope we can avoid another Healthcare.gov.

The application deadline is April 7, and candidates can apply directly through the program’s website.


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