HHS looks for third set of entrepreneurs

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A program that brought in new talent and innovation to the Department of Health and Human Services will return for its third round this fall.

HHS Entrepreneurs is designed to bring in new “amazing all-star caliber talent” to join the HHS team for a 12-month period, a blog post by HHS Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak said.

“The ideal HHS Entrepreneur is a passionate expert in problem solving equipped with modern tools who is ready to shake government up, push the boundaries of the bureaucracy and act as agents of the IDEA Lab to transform the culture of a large organization,” Sivak said in the post.

According to the HHS IDEA Lab, this version of the HHS Entrepreneurs program was developed and rolled out in 2012, but the basis of the initiative goes back to the 2010 HHS Innovation Fellows Program. Since then, the program has served as a model for what became the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.

In the post, Sivak criticized HHS for not keeping up with other areas of government in terms of technology application and productivity.

“By all means, this is no easy task,” he wrote. “The Department of Health and Human Services has not kept pace with many sectors with the applications of technology, enhanced productivity and valued outcomes and services.”

The cabinet-level department is looking for entrepreneurs and innovators to tackle challenges in six total categories, all but one technology related: digital media as it relates to age and disability, an online health care practitioner credentialing portal, Center for Disease Control mortality data and analytic tool modernization, innovative design of databases and de-identified claims data.

These challenges, identified as cohorts, will each end with up to 20 internal entrepreneurs and six to eight external entrepreneurs, resulting in a total of four to six projects per cohort.

According to the HHS IDEA Lab, internal entrepreneurs are already HHS employees. These employees must have time to dedicate to a project they would lead and guide even after the end of the external entrepreneur’s tenure with the program. An external entrepreneur would be a member of the outside community “with a demonstrated track record of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

External entrepreneurs, according to HHS, would ideally have an advanced degree or an equal combination of education and field experience, a minimum of five years experience implementing new ventures, expertise in open innovation and good communication and leadership skills. The full list of qualifications for an external entrepreneur is available on the HHS Idea Lab page for the project.

Internal entrepreneurs will continue to receive the same compensation they get at HHS, while external entrepreneurs’ compensation will be decided prior to their start date by the participating operating and staff division. Despite their temporary basis, external entrepreneurs have access to all the same benefits as any other federal employee.

HHS is accepting applications from now until July 16. The positions start in September and will last for 12 months.

“Ultimately, disruption is powered by people taking action – become one of those people,” Sivak said. “In doing so, you will acquire knowledge and perspective from a unique vista in management.”

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Bryan Sivak
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