Thinking about submitting a proposal? Not sure what your project would look like? Here are some things that HHSignites (beta) can help you do:

  • Build something
    • Build a small-scale model of that something
  • Change a status quo process
    • Run a pilot of that process change
  • Change a methodology to problem solving or product development
    • Test that methodology and compare the results to baseline
  • Help bring staff and resources from other offices together to address a cross-Agency challenge
  • Provide needed visibility and support
  • Compliment other funding towards a larger new effort
  • Connect with innovation leaders across HHS
  • Learn from innovation experts in the private sector

Your proposal should strike the right balance between impact and viability. While there are plenty of grand problems to solve, processes to change, and tasks to implement, your challenge is to scale down a project into one that fits the scale and scope of the initiative.

For example, you may want to just test a few variations on a workflow and measure the effects. Or instead of fully implementing a new program, you can run a pilot to work out the kinks. Or rather than engineering a solution to a big problem, you could use the HHSignite program as a platform to highlight the issues, get outside expert advice, and build a team towards a trial run.

Your proposal should demonstrate individual and Agency commitment which can come in many flavors. On way is to ensure that you have a team that accurately reflects the task at hand. If you’re interested in starting an intervention at community clinics, having someone from a community clinic on your team is probably a good idea. Similarly, building a team of individuals from multiple agencies, or including support from an outside organization, speaks volumes to the viability of the idea and its potential to scale, as does bringing additional funding or resources into the project.

Your proposal should clearly define the problem and delineate what is needed to address it without necessarily scripting out the grand solution. Projects selected by the Secretary will be provided trainings, tools, and a community that can help you try out one or more ways to solve that problem.

HHSignites (beta) is part seed-fund but also part incubator. Therefore it’s important to note that the selected teams will have certain expectations beyond simply carrying out their proposed plan and periodically reporting in. Teams will be accountable to other teams. There will be regular reporting. Individuals will be asked to provide thoughts on projects other than their own. Experts will be brought in to provide guidance and help shape plans, a community of support will be instilled, but the project management is ultimately up to the host office.

By infusing smart people with community, tools, accountability, support and yes: a little money, we can begin to build the pipeline of solutions to the greatest challenges of HHS. On May 15th we cease accepting proposals and begin judging them in preparation for their delivery to the Secretary. She’ll make the final selection for which projects to ignite. We hope that yours is in the mix.

HHSignites is now accepting proposals for its ‘beta’ class. Think you may have an idea worth igniting? Talk to your neighbors, and reach out. Email us at or join the HHS Yammer group (an HHS internal link) to connect with others and read about some example projects.

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