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HHSinnovates Awards Ceremony

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September 24, 2012
Washington, DC

Thank you all for being here. This is the 5th HHSinnovates awards ceremony. And it’s an event that I always look forward to.

Innovation is what we do here at HHS, from developing the cures and treatments of the future to helping spark new models of health care that advance patient safety and reduce costs.

That commitment to discovery and continuous improvement is not contained within any one agency or operating division.  It runs throughout our entire Department.

But in the past, some of our best ideas have not always had the support they needed to spread -- to be adopted and adapted across the 300-plus programs that make up our Department.

Today however, it’s clear, that’s begun to change.

A culture of innovation is taking root across the Department.

When we created HHSinnovates, our goal was to lift up innovations like the ones we’re celebrating today. By putting a spotlight on them, and nurturing them, we hoped to make it easier for good ideas to grow.  And five rounds later, we’re seeing that commitment bear fruit.

The six teams we’re celebrating today are very different from one another, but they have a few key things in common.  Most of their projects are very low-cost and many use the power of social media to maximize their impact. Most are built on previous innovations that came before them. And many are the result of new partnerships -- colleagues who came together around a shared vision to solve a problem.

We want to foster even more dynamic teamwork like this across the Department. So today, we’re rolling out Yammer, a collaboration platform that allows employees across the Department to find one another and share information and ideas.  You will be hearing more about Yammer in the coming days from our new Chief Technology Officer, Bryan Sivak.

In addition, we’re also launching an evaluation to learn from your teams about where your ideas came from and what helped them succeed.  We’ll share the lessons we learn, so that everyone across the Department can succeed as innovators.

Now, today we’re also moving forward on the next step of our Innovation Fellows Program.

Earlier this year, I announced that we were looking for the best people to come together with the right knowledge, skills, and talents to find game-changing solutions to our most pressing national problems -- no matter where they work: at HHS, another federal department, a non-profit, or the private sector.

Today, I am delighted to announce that we have selected 4 high-priority projects.  More than 100 people have applied to participate. The teams will get going next month. And we’ll all be able to follow their progress over the next year.

When we launched HHSinnovates, it started with a question: Where do good ideas come from?  

More two years later, we know that good ideas can come from anywhere and everyone, in every office in every agency.

Today, we want to know something else: Where can those ideas take us?

To answer that question, we have to keep experimenting, keep building on the progress we’ve made, keep testing old assumptions and building new partnerships. As long as we do, there will be no limit to where our ideas can take us.

So congratulations again to today’s honorees, and thank you for your leadership.

Now I am delighted to turn things over to Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is not only one of our  senior leaders, but also a true champion and supporter of innovation across the Department.