An Open Letter to HHS Innovators: We Want to Hear Your Ideas for Change Today

Fellow HHS Innovators —

The sixth round of the HHS Ignite Accelerator starts in Spring 2017, which means we are now accepting your ideas about how to solve problems at HHS that you care about.

Personally, it is beyond exciting to see new ideas spring forth from our colleagues across the Department.

By applying to Ignite, you are putting forth yourself and ideas for how HHS might better deliver on its very important objectives. As we head into administrative transition, it’s also an opportune time to show incoming leaders and staff that they are joining an organization that has engaged problem-solvers — pragmatic people who want to do the right thing for the American Citizen, for their HHS colleagues, and for the cause of Health and Science across the globe.

What we’ve experienced through our three years, five rounds, and 71 project teams that have joined the Ignite Accelerator is that the spirit of innovation is alive and well amongst our ranks, but, in order to thrive, still needs: cover from a risk-averse culture; coaching and methodology that ensures sound solutions and strategy; access to a diverse network for advice and encouragement; and access to HHS senior leaders for feedback and further support.

The next round of Ignite promises to be full of wonderful teams and will feature a couple of new wrinkles. After each round of Ignite, we speak with newly minted Ignite graduates and ask for candid feedback about the Program. Based on that feedback, this round, we are further customizing our instruction and support to better support teams. We’ll be matching coaching based on where in the project life-cycle and risk spectrum our teams find themselves. To support further this, we anticipate selecting around 10 teams this round. Although we were able and fortunate to support more teams previously, we are scaling down for a customized approach this round.

We are ecstatic to begin the next round of the Ignite Accelerator because we get to watch as passionate colleagues reject the status quo, realize amazing possibilities and create impactful opportunities; we get to witness their gradual realization that the selflessness and idealism that brought them to a career in government might yet yield the fundamental rewards they had been seeking all along. And when we are met with heartfelt thanks, we know we are doing the right thing, too.

On behalf of your friends at the IDEA Lab, thank you for your courage and for sharing a spirit of adventure, idealism, and generosity as we enter our next phase together.

Will Yang

Program Director, HHS Ignite Program