Vote Now! HHS Innovates People's Choice Award Voting is Now Open

Vote for this year’s “People’s Choice” Award! In 2009, Secretary Sebelius established HHS Innovates, a competition to recognize employees and their achievements in using new concepts to solve important challenges in the workplace.  Over the last 5 years, we have identified over 400 innovations involving more than 2500 HHS employees with over 200 of them recognized by the Secretary’s Award.

In 2012, we added a new dimension to the program, the “People’s Choice” Award.  This award was established as a way to share and demonstrate the value of having HHS employees develop creative solutions to important problems in government and health care with the public.  Thus far we’ve had a great response, with over 30,000 votes being cast.

I now invite you to vote for this round’s six finalists for HHS Innovates.  A description of each of the finalists innovations is found below. Voting will close on June 6, 2014. More information about HHS Innovates can be found on the HHS Innovates page.


Whole Genome Sequencing: Future of Food SafetyWhole Genome Sequencing: Future of Food Safety

Sometimes the food we eat can be hazardous and finding contaminated foods before consumers become ill is a major challenge. The process for identifying disease-causing organisms that can be found in food and can be a slow and cumbersome process using conventional detection testing methods.  Whole genome sequencing is a new technology has the potential to speed up detection and enable faster interventions to stop an outbreak of disease in its tracks.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnered with agencies across state and federal government, including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health National Center for Biotechnology Information to engage in a demonstration project to showcase the benefits of using Whole Genome Sequencing for food surveillance and detection purposes.

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JumpStarting Drug ReviewJumpStarting Drug Review

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “JumpStart” program is modernizing the review process for new drug approvals.  FDA medical reviewers are using “JumpStart’s” automated analytics and data-driven tools to more efficiently assess data from clinical trials, helping to ensure safe and effective drugs are approved for public use.   This innovation demonstrates the value that data analytics can play in allowing the FDA to more effectively manage complex drug reviews.  The “Jumpstart” approach has the potential for application to other areas subject to FDA review.

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Using Motion Comics to Educate Young People About HIV and STD’sUsing Motion Comics to Educate Young People About HIV and STD’s

Over half of all sexually transmitted infections occur among young people 15 – 24 years of age.  To promote HIV and Sexuallly-transmitted disease awareness and prevention among youth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used a very popular form of mainstream entertainment – the motion comic – to engage this population through animation.  This innovation represents a novel effort by a public health agency to use motion comics to engage and educate young people about the risks of HIV and STDs through entertainment and animation.

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Suicide Prevention: What’s Your Role Suicide Prevention: What’s Your Role

Imagine combining the reach of the Web and the power of community engagement to reduce suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in the nation.  Using “echo sites”, which are defined as community-organized gatherings, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Office of Women’s Health (OWH) partnered with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Administration for Community Living (ACL), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and with local communities to hold interactive dialogues that transform participants into change agents capable of spreading the message that everyone plays a role in preventing suicide.

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NIOSH Ladder Safety ApplicationLadder Safety: NIOSH has an App for That

30°, 63°, 75° incline? Do you know the proper angle to use when setting up a ladder? You may be surprised, but ladder-related injuries account for $11 billion dollars each year. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) decided to take this challenge head on developed a Ladder Safety app.  The first of its kind for the industry, the app uses the latest safety research and smart phone technology to deliver free, innovative and easy-to-use ladder positioning tools, checklists, and guides into the hands of ladder users where and whenever they are needed.  This app is available for both Apple and Android mobile devices.

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Breast Cancer Startup ChallengeBreast Cancer Startup Challenge

The first-of-its-kind, an international, university student-based startup competition, the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge was launched by the National Cancer Institute in partnership with the Avon Foundation and the Center for Advancing Innovation. The primary goals of this challenge were to accelerate the process of bringing emerging breast cancer technologies to market and stimulate the creation of start-up businesses around the inventions.  As a result of this challenge, 10 new startups are expected to launch this summer.

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HHS Innovates is just one of the ways we are building a more modern and effective government at the HHS IDEA Lab.  The HHS IDEA Lab is equipping HHS employees and members of the public with new methodologies, mentoring and pathways for innovation.  HHS Innovates is one of the six pathways for innovation.  More information about the IDEA Lab can be found at and see how you can get involved.