- Annoucements & Updates
- Submit Your Entry
- Nominate a Colleague
- Key Dates
- Evaluation Process
- More Information & FAQs
02/27: Submissions Are Closed
Submissions for the HHS Innovates Awards closed on February 27, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST.
Thanks to all who submitted! We received 70 entries for the Awards from employees across the Department. The submissions will first be reviewed for approval by Agency leadership and then will be evaluated by members of HHS Innovates Committee. Applicants can expect to hear back about if their submission was selected as a finalist by May 1st.
Employee-wide voting will open in May — so stay tuned for more information about how to vote for your favorite innovation at HHS!
For more details about the review process, check out the Evaluation Process and Key Dates tabs.
Recap of HHS Innovates Yam Jam
On February 10th, we held a special virtual town hall event on Yammer, or a Yam Jam, during which HHS Innovates Committee Members and past winners answered your questions about the Awards and submission process. Thanks to all who asked questions or watched the dialogue in the HHS IDEA Lab Yammer Group!
If you missed the Yam Jam or want review the questions & answers, you can view the conversation in the HHS IDEA Lab Yammer Group.
Recap of HHS Innovates Webinar
On January 21st, we held a webinar, during which we reviewed the submission process & heard valuable insights from past winners of the Innovates Awards and committee members who review entries. Thanks to all who participated!
Below is a recording of the audio and slides of the webinar in video format.
You can go to any specific points in the video by clicking on the linked time. Other links will direct you to the project pages.
0:00: Elizabeth Kittrie – Program Manager of HHS Innovates Awards
15:50: Tim Kropp – Past Innovates Winner, JumpStarting Drug Review Process
22:40: Kathleen Votava – Past Innovates Winner, Suicide Prevention: What’s Your Role?
26:35: Bethany Applebaum & Sabrina Matoff-Stepp – HHS Innovates Committee Members
Schedule a time to chat about your submission
Want to discuss your submission with someone? There are 3 options:
- Talk with your agency representative. As HHS Innovates Committee members, they can provide advice on how to further strengthen your submission. For a list of agency contacts, see the More Information & FAQs tab.
- Talk with an HHS Innovates Mentor. These are past HHS Innovates winners who can speak about their HHS Innovates experience and provide you with peer-to-peer advice on developing your submission. For a list of the HHS Innovates Mentors, see the More Information & FAQs tab.
- If you have pursued the first two avenues and would like additional input, you can email the IDEA Lab to schedule an office hour and discuss your submission with Elizabeth Kittrie.
Celebrating HHS Trailblazers
Core Principles of HHS Innovates
Types of HHS Innovates Projects
To date, 42 innovations have won HHS Innovates awards, and hundreds more have received exposure across HHS. These innovations cover a wide spectrum of solutions, and often involve partnerships across the Department or with external organizations.
To be worthy of an HHS Innovates award, the innovation must have been implemented within the last 30 months and needs to be a solution that is scalable and relevant to stakeholders across HHS and beyond.
Eligible innovations must fit into one of following six categories:
Innovations in this category transform and improve health. Eligible innovations could address topics such as affordability, access, quality, care delivery, system and organizational enhancements, provider training and coordination, or payment reform; prevention, wellness, and other strategies that focus on the health of communities; or scientific research and discoveries leading to new health care innovations and advances in public health and health care. Prior winning examples include: Medline Plus Connect or Joining Forces to Fight Childhood Obesity.
Optimizing Human Services
Innovations in this category transform and improve human services. Eligible innovations could include new types of service offerings, improved methods of service delivery or coordination, or educational offerings that can support the care of these populations. These innovations could address underserved or disadvantaged communities, vulnerable populations, or those in crisis due to natural or man-made conditions. A prior winning example includes: Supporting Tribal Grantees: ACF Makes it Simple
Creating Building Blocks for Success at Every Stage in Life
Innovations in this category help to ensure that the building blocks for success are incorporated at every stage of life. Eligible innovations could address service offerings, community engagement, or knowledge-sharing and support across one or more stages of the life cycle (e.g. infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood) or key transition points (e.g., from financial dependence to independence, parenthood, home to community living, caregiving). Prior winning examples include: Text4Baby or Suicide Prevention: What’s Your Role?
Enhancing Operational Effectiveness
Innovations in this category strengthen the Department’s effectiveness in delivering on its mission. Eligible innovations could address new uses of technology or workflows to enhance operations, risk management, administrative or review processes, sustainability, or customer support, etc. Prior winning examples include: Revolutionizing Procurement through the Web and Ready, Cert, Go!
Biggest Bang for the Buck
Innovations in this category provide significant savings or return-on-investment for HHS resources expended. In considering the return-on-investment, applicants can consider the value of non-HHS investments or in-kind contributions from partners that are helping to leverage HHS resources. Prior winning examples include: NIAID Freestuff: Stretching Tax Dollars or The Zombie Apocalypse Campaign.
Innovations in this category represent a new methodology, approach or technology for addressing a difficult problem relevant to HHS. Eligible innovations could also focus on a novel application or new use of an existing methodology, technology or approach from a different field that can solve an HHS problem. Prior winning examples include: Counterfeit Detection Device or From Outer Space to the Eye Clinic.
You can view all of the past winners of HHS Innovates here.
Phases of HHS Innovates
HHS Innovates involves five major phases, which are designed to identify, share, and highlight innovation occurring at HHS. These include:
- Employee Submission Period
In the first phase of HHS Innovates, all HHS employees are encouraged to submit innovative solutions they have developed, or nominate the work of their colleagues. For more information about the eligibility criteria and innovation categories, check out the Overview tab.
- Agency Review
In the second phase of HHS Innovates, leadership from the HHS operating and staff divisions will be notified of their employees’ submissions of this award program, and they will be granted right of first refusal for any submissions that do not align with the division’s mission, goals, and strategic plans.
- Scoring and Review by the HHS Innovates Committee
In the third phase of HHS Innovates, the HHS Innovates Committee reviews and scores the submissions. The highest scoring innovation in each category will move onto the finals. Highly meritorious innovations that do not proceed to the finals may be eligible to receive recognition from the Deputy Secretary. For more information about the scoring criteria, check out the Evaluation and Selection Criteria tab.
- Showcasing of Innovations and Employee Voting
In the fourth phase of HHS Innovates, the finalists will be displayed for employee voting. During this period, HHS employees will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite innovation, which will be considered the “Employee’s Pick.” In addition, the Secretary will also have the opportunity to review the finalists, and select up to two “Secretary’s Picks” from among them.
- Recognition Ceremony
All of the finalists will be considered HHS Innovates winners. A recognition ceremony will be held at HHS headquarters to recognize and celebrate the innovators who contributed to the winning innovations. Media outreach will be issued for the winning innovations. Prizes and plaques will be provided to all key contributors on the finalist teams, and supporting contributors will receive individualized certificates signed by the Secretary and Deputy Secretary.
New Features and Enhancements to HHS Innovates
In the spirit of continuous quality improvement, we have made a number of changes to the HHS Innovates Awards program to enhance the way we recognize and share promising innovations. Here’s a brief overview of the changes and what we hope to accomplish with them:
Focus on High Impact Areas of Relevance Across HHS
This round, HHS employees can submit their innovations in one of six categories (Transforming Health, Optimizing Human Services, Creating Building Blocks for Success at Every Stage in Life, Enhancing Operational Effectiveness, Biggest Band for our Buck, and Out-of-the-Box Solution). These six categories, based on priorities set forth by Secretary Burwell, will not only help us to focus on high-impact areas where innovation matters most, but will also inspire submissions from operating and staff divisions that may not have participated as frequently in the awards program before.
Streamlined the Nomination Process:
The submission form has been updated with improved questions and the opportunity to include collateral material, such as video, images, or weblinks, with your submission. The submission questions can be found on the Eligibility and How to Apply tab.
You can also nominate a colleague who you think should submit their innovation for an award. Check out the Nominate a Colleague tab to access the form.
Improved the Award Selection Process:
The process of selecting winners has changed to ensure that the most promising innovative solutions are selected for an HHS Innovates Award. After the submission period closes, the HHS Innovates Committee will review and score the submissions. The highest-scored innovation in each of the six eligibility categories will be finalists and will receive HHS Innovates Awards.
This round, after finalists are selected, we are opening up employee voting and asking the HHS community to select its favorite (aka “the Employee’s Pick”). As in previous rounds, the Secretary will also review the winning innovations and select her favorite(s) (aka “the Secretary’s Pick”). At the awards ceremony, and in the press release, we will celebrate all of the winning innovations.
Enhanced Recognition for HHS Trailblazers:
In years past, on average three teams were recognized for their innovation. This round, more innovations will be identified as awards winners, as we recognize the six category winners for their innovative work.
Among the category winners, all key contributors will now be awarded a cash prize (HHS Employees and Commissioned Corps only), regardless of whether they were chosen as the Employee’s Pick and Secretary’s Pick. Category winners will also receive a certificate signed by the Secretary and Deputy Secretary that will be placed in their employee performance file.
Finally, we will recognize meritorious innovations that were not selected as finalists in an alternative form. These employees, identified by the HHS Innovates Committee, will receive written recognition from the Deputy Secretary for their efforts.
A Brief History of HHS Innovates
Nominate a Colleague to Submit an Entry
Would you like to nominate a colleague to submit an entry for an HHS Innovates Award?
Simply fill out this this form, and we’ll send your colleague an email inviting his/her submission for an Award.
HHS Innovates Round 8 Key Dates
- January 8, 2015 – Submissions Open
- January 21, 2015 – Webinar
- February 27, 2015 – Submissions Due
- March 2 - March 20, 2015 – Agency Review of Employee Submissions
- March 23, 2015 - Award Committee Begins Reviewing Employee Submissions
- May 1, 2014 – Award Committee Announces Finalists
- May 4, 2015 – Employee Voting Opens
- May 15, 2015 – Employee Voting Ends
- TBD – Awards Ceremony
Stay up-to-date on HHS Innovates by entering your email address below and subscribing to our mailing list.
Evaluation Process and Selection of Winners
The evaluation and selection process involves three basic steps:
- Agency review of Employee Submissions
- HHS Innovates Committee Review and Scoring of Submissions
- Selection of the “Employee Pick” and “Secretary’s Picks”
Step 1: Agency Review of Employee Submissions
At the close of the submission period, leadership from the HHS operating and staff divisions will be notified of their employees’ submissions, and they will be granted right of first refusal for any submissions that do not align with the division’s mission, goals, and strategic plans. Agency leadership will not be able to alter the submission (except by written permission), but they are able to remove a submission.
Step 2: HHS Innovates Committee Scoring and Selection of Finalists
Proposals that are cleared by agency leadership will be evaluated by the HHS Innovates Committee based on the following criteria:
- Significance to the HHS/OPDIV Mission or to Operational Efficiency [25 points]
- Novelty of the Innovation [25 points]
- Impact/Return-on-Investment [25 points]
- Potential for and Scalability and Transferability across HHS [25 points]
The top scoring innovation in each category (Transforming Health, Optimizing Human Services, Creating Building Blocks for Success at Every Stage in Life, Enhancing Operational Effectiveness, Biggest Bang for Our Buck, and Out-of-the Box Solution) will move onto the finals. In cases where there is a tie within a category, the Awards Committee may select multiple innovations to move onto the finals. Those selected as finalists will be asked to participate in a brief interview with members of the HHS Innovates Committee.
Highly meritorious innovations that do not proceed to the finals will be eligible to receive written recognition from the Deputy Secretary.
Step 3: Selection of “Employee’s Pick” and “Secretary’s Picks”
The finalists, as chosen by the HHS Innovates Committee, will have the opportunity to win two additional awards: the “Employee’s Pick” and the “Secretary’s Pick.”
The highest scoring innovation in each category (i.e, “the finalists”) will be displayed for employee voting. The voting will provide HHS employees with the opportunity to select their favorite innovation from the finalists. The innovation receiving the highest number of employee votes will be considered the “Employee’s Pick.”
In addition, the Secretary will provide the opportunity to select up to two of her favorite innovations. These innovations will be considered the “Secretary’s Picks.”
All of the finalists will be considered HHS Innovates winners. The key contributors to these innovations will be invited to attend the recognition ceremony and will receive prizes as well as plaques and certificates.
For general information about HHS Innovates, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please visit our FAQs page.
HHS Innovates Resources
There are three sets of additional resources that may be useful for potential HHS Innovates applicants. These include “HHS Innovates Mentors” and “Agency Points of Contact,” both of which are members of the HHS Innovates Committee. In addition, applicants may schedule an Office Hour to discuss their submission with IDEA Lab staff.
Agency Points of Content
The HHS Innovates Committee is comprised of HHS employees from across the Department. A number of these individuals have agreed to serve as Agency Points of Contact who are willing to interact with employees regarding their submissions. HHS employees can find their full contact information in the HHS Outlook mail system. HHS operating and staff divisions that do not have representation on the list below, and wish to participate in the HHS Innovates Committee should contact us at email@example.com
- Administration for Children and Families
- Administration on Community Living
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
- Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
- Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
CDR Stephanie Bardack
- Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources
- Assistant Secretary for Health and Commissioned Corps
CAPT Jose Belardo
- Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- Food and Drug Administration
L’ Tonya Davis
- Indian Health Service
- Health Resources and Services Administration
Sabrina Matoff-Stepp – also Past Winner [Text4Baby]
- National Institutes of Health
- Office of Global Affairs
- Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Office of Inspector General
- Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT
- Office of the Secretary
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
HHS Innovates Mentors
The following individuals, all of whom are past winners of an HHS Innovates award, have agreed to serve as innovation mentors for the purposes of this program. In this capacity they have agreed to provide informal peer counseling to employee innovators wishing to apply to HHS Innovates. These individuals have first-hand experience in what it takes to put together a winning submission. Because these individuals have full-time day jobs in addition to their participation on this committee, the extent of their interactions will need to be negotiated between the applicant and mentor. HHS employees can find their full contact information in the HHS outlook system.
- Miguel Reyes, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Past winner – Lighting the Way: NIOSH Cap Lamp
- Timothy Kropp, Food and Drug Administration
Past Winner – Jumpstarting Drug Review
- Peter Gerner-Smidt, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Past Winner – Whole Genome Sequencing: Future of Food Safety
- Kathleen Votava, Administration on Community Living
Past Winner – Suicide Prevention: What’s Your Role?
- Michelle Hoersch, Office on Women’s Health
Past Winner – Suicide Prevention: What’s Your Role?
IDEA Lab Office Hours
Want to discuss your submission with a member of the IDEA Lab Team? You can email us at the IDEA Lab to schedule a 30-min office hour.
Interested in seeing what the awards ceremony entails? You can view the 2014 HHS Innovates ceremony.
Interested in learning more about the past winners of this contest, or contacting the members of the winning teams? You can view all of the projects.
Interested in hearing a past winner’s story? Learn more here.