Being The Change I Want To See In The Presidential Innovation Fellowship (PIF) Program


I just wrote a post on why I left my Presidential Innovation Fellowship (PIF). Overall I think PIF program is a pretty amazing vehicle for bringing smart folks from the private sector and puting them to work changing how government operates. However, now that I've exited I wanted to share two thoughts on how the program could be more effective.

I think the responsibility of mking the PIF program better lies in the hands of each round of PIFs, which is essentially what I'm doing with my exit of the program. There are two main areas I would adjust the program:

  • Dedicated Roles Across Agencies - I was placed at the Department of Veterans Affairs, but because of my unique focus on APIs I found myself working across multiple agencies. For some of the PIFs I think dedicated roles could be filled including, but not limited to API, UI/UX, Programming, Event Organizer etc. Some individuals will be better suited to this type of specialization, and better applied across agencies--this will also significantly benefit other agency focused PIFs.
  • Internal and External Fellows - In my case, being a government employee was not beneficial. I don't aspire to establish a career in government, as I hope will be case with some future PIFs, and the role didn't really open up enough access, to make it worth my while. The PIF Program should have two distinct tracks that individuals can choose from, either tackling their fellowship from the inside-out or from the outside-in, without the shackles of being a government employee.

These are my two changes to the program that I feel strongly about. I know there are other areas that former and current PIFs would like to see changed, but these are the two I'm will to "be the change I want to see in the program". With this in mind, I'm willing to exit the program, make the change, and evolve the program into what I think it should be.

From the outside I will be able to apply my API skills across multiple agencies, and I will be able to bring external resources that my fellow PIFs can put to use.. Coupled with the efforts of other internal PIFs and government employees, I feel I can maximize my impact on how government operates in the coming years.