2. Leadership, Governance and Culture Change
The promotion of innovation throughout the Department has been a key focus of HHS’s leadership, governance and culture change efforts. HHS has sought to promote innovation through the establishment of an interagency Innovation Council to help ensure that innovation efforts are coordinated and infused into the management structure of HHS and through the development of a department-wide contest that celebrates and rewards staff-driven innovations at HHS.
HHS formed an Innovation Council and charged it with the mission of advancing a culture of innovation at HHS. The Council, which contains representatives from every major operating and staff division at HHS, meets monthly to discuss issues of relevance to the Department’s Innovation Agenda. The Council oversees HHS’s open government efforts, including enhancing collaboration and participation activities at HHS. The Council has actively invited outside stakeholders to participate in these meetings as a way of bringing an external perspective to the dialogue and to provide a forum through which agency leadership can consider private sector, non-profit, and other governmental agency perspectives in its deliberations. Examples of outside speakers who have participated in HHS Innovation Council meetings include: Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of Innocentive; Sanford Lew, Director of the Office of Innovation in the Social Security Administration, and Darrell West, founding Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution.
A key early win for the HHS Innovation Council has been the successful launch of a new Secretary’s open innovation awards program, HHSinnovates, which rewards and recognizes promising innovations across HHS. Via an online tool, any HHS employee can nominate an individual or team that has executed a notable change in how HHS works for the better. All employees then vote online for the best innovations, which are sent to the Secretary for her to pick the top winners. To date, HHS has successfully executed two rounds of HHSinnovates (the first round in Spring 2010 and the second round in Fall 2010). A third round commenced on May 2nd, 2011. Thus far, the competition has led to the identification of nearly 200 exciting innovations at HHS. In each round, approximately 10,000 votes were cast by HHS employees who had viewed and commented on these promising innovations. Thus far, a total of twelve “finalist teams” have been selected by the Secretary for recognition. The recognition ceremonies are made available to the entire HHS community as well as the public via webcast. More information about the contest, including a gallery featuring the winning innovations and archived videos of the awards ceremony can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/idealab/pathways/hhs-innovates/. The program has also sparked efforts to scale and disseminate the successful innovations from this program throughout HHS. For example, Text4Baby, a program executed through a public-private partnership that received an HHSinnovates award, triggered the launch of an HHS Text4Health task force to pursue the utilization of text messaging to improve health in other areas, such as smoking cessation and childhood health.