What the PIFs Have Been Up to in 2019

Across the federal government, Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) are helping to streamline regulations, increase engagement with private sector investors, and deploy pioneering machine learning and natural language processing solutions.

Presidential Innovation Fellows gathered at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on July 12th as part of a PIF Homecoming event.

As part of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), PIFs are working on the Cross Agency Priority (CAP) Goal number 4 on governmentwide customer experience (CX). This work—across 24 federal agencies—is to design the data infrastructure necessary to create the first public-facing dashboards on citizen experience. At the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), they are helping unlock the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems while designing for a future transportation ecosystem.

We’ve seen several of our fellows get awards and recognition, such as the 2019 Service to the Citizen Award, the Fed 100, and the DCFemTech award—which two fellows received for their work in data and design. We’ve seen a PIF promoted to a leadership position in the Centers of Excellence (CoE) within the Technology Transformation Services (TTS), helping usher in a future of federal leadership with human-centered design. And this month, one of our fellows, was named to be the Director of Artificial Intelligence at the VA Office of Research and Development (VA Research).

To understand agencies, our fellows have traveled across the nation to solve regional technology challenges, and globally to Prague to meet with stakeholders at the front lines of global media. From San Diego to South Carolina, fellows have visited national labs, hospitals, call centers, and claim processing centers for a holistic view of end-to-end business lines and operations. Along the way, they’ve even been to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Wallops Flight Facility (NASA Wallops) to watch the launch of a spacecraft.

The PIF journey is a tested one. For seven years, fellows have been catalysts in American innovation. We are now creating tools to quantify the impact of innovation. At the program level, we have piloted an interactive Storybank that allows our fellows to capture internal learnings about their work. Similar to a weekly diary, the learnings are giving us better insight into some of the advances, blockers, and collaborations happening across 24 agencies.

Take a look at what our fellows have been working on:

GIL ALTEROVITZ While at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Gil incentivized government and industry artificial intelligence data linkages through Health Tech Sprint, and provided AI thought leadership to the White House. In July 2019, VA Research announced Gil as their first director of artificial intelligence.

STEVEN BABITCH Steven is codifying how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) engages industry, including on information sharing. He is advising on the approach related to a policy matter, and working with mission support and operational divisions on the mitigation of national security threats.

NINA BIANCHI Currently the Director of Workforce Solutions with the IT Modernization Centers of Excellence (CoE), Nina is leading cross-agency innovation to improve service outcomes for citizen customers. From clinical trials and data supply chains to artificial intelligence and management operations, she is ushering in the future of federal leadership by design.

CLARICE CHAN At the VA, Clarice is focused on modernizing how the VA communicates and delivers services to veterans. Bringing design thinking and inclusive design to build better user experiences that meet veterans where they are, not where we are.

MARIA LYNNE DAYTON As part of the PMA CAP Goal number 4 on governmentwide customer experience, Maria helped streamline the regulations around public data and built the first 26 agency public-facing dashboards on citizen experience.

ALI DIALLO At the VA, Ali is supporting a claim automation initiative that will help families of veterans get burial benefits faster and more efficiently. He is also a member of the White House Workforce Grand Challenge Interagency Working Group, an initiative of the Office of Science & Technology Policy that aims to prepare the workforce for the industries of the future through government-wide prize competitions.

GEORGETA DRAGOIU At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Georgeta is developing data-driven communications and marketing strategies for the All of Us Research Program, whose goal is to tailor medical treatments for individual needs.

ADAM DRAKE Adam is the first PIF to work with any of the military services and is currently helping the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) with a variety of technology modernization and machine learning/applied AI efforts. In addition to the Marine Corps, Adam has also supported the U.S. Navy, the Defense Innovation Board (DIB), Army Futures Command (AFC), Defense Digital Services (DDS), and the U.S. Air Force.

RYAN FIORENTINO At the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ryan is creating a digitally-enabled, responsive relationship with America’s farmers, ranchers, and conservationists.

DAVEY GIBIAN At the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) of the DoD at the Pentagon, Davey has been creating internal data structures for the organization in order to accelerate technology adoption for warfighters.

ROBERT GOLDEL Robert is leading efforts connecting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), NIH, and the VA to demonstrate how digital health technologies, including digital biomarkers and a digital health catalyst, can support an innovation ecosystem to drive down the costs and validate the efficacy of software-based medicine.

Davar Ardalan, Deputy Director of the Presidential Innovation Fellowship program featured speaker on the PIF Storybank and the power of data storytelling.

ZACHARY GOLDFINE At the VA, Zachary is helping to create a benefits intake API so that more veterans can digitally submit their benefit applications to the VA.

JUSTIN KOUFOPOULOS As part of a 10x project at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), Justin is helping to create a digital playbook to help agencies begin using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) more effectively.

PATRICK LIN Patrick is helping the DOT to unlock the potential of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems while deeply thinking through the needs of—and designing for—the future transportation ecosystem.

ADELE LUTA At the NIH, Adele is enabling future research breakthroughs within a researcher portal encouraging a collaborating environment. She is also facilitating efforts of the presidential Space Policy Directives at the Office of Space Commerce within the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC).

SONI MECKEM At NIH, Soni is providing customer experience thought leadership on the All of Us Research Program’s journey to transform healthcare with precision medicine.

MAURA NEWELL At the Veterans Experience Office (VEO), Maura is a CX CAP Goal team member, focusing on putting the human back into the center of government services by leading and designing strategies around veteran suicide prevention.

MICHAEL PRITCHARD Michael is working on creating an agency-wide data lake and developing natural language processing (NLP) to ascertain global audience trends at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

RANA SAAD At the FDA, Rana is helping to stand up a Digital Health Center of Excellence for FDA’s Division of Digital Health and leading a digital health catalyst.

SARAYU SRINIVASAN Detailed to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Sarayu leads CAP Goal 14 Strategy Two—engaging investors and the private sector in the acceleration of federally funded innovations from lab to market. CAP Goal 14 aims to improve the overall transfer of federally funded technologies to the marketplace. Sarayu also serves as a venture capitalist (VC)-slash-entrepreneur-slash-industry expert advising federal agencies around investment and entrepreneurial organization, practice, activity, and processes.

JEFF STARR Jeff is helping to create a digital playbook entitled, Getting to Prototype and Pilot: A Playbook for Beginning the AI/ML Journey for USG Agencies, as a 10x project at GSA. It is designed to help U.S. government agencies in their early stages of examining AI and ML to implement best practices for experimenting with and piloting AI/ML methods to integrate into their work streams.

NEVIN TAYLOR Nevin facilitated the establishment of the U.S. Department of State’s Chief Data Officer (CDO) function and their ability to leverage data as strategic assets through the creation of a program to register, organize, structure data. Additionally, as a member of the AI/ML working group, established a primer and standards, as well as the development of a playbook to leverage this capability to provide functionality that optimizes mission effectiveness.

NELSON A. COLÓN VARGAS At the VA, Nelson is working on a system that uses machine learning and natural language processing to automate the initial classification of benefit claim forms, saving millions of dollars and cutting wait time by five to seven days.

STEPHEN WINCHELL At the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), Stephen works on creating and managing new high-risk, high-payoff research programs in support of U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) goals.

Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget, and Acting Director at the Office of Personnel Management, Margaret Weichert, addressing Fellows at the PIF Homecoming event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

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