Obama makes PIF program permanent

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday making the Presidential Innovation Fellows program permament, under the direction of the General Services Administration.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday making the Presidential Innovations Fellows program permanent, reinforcing a pipeline through which entrepreneurs, technologists and innovators can improve how the public interacts with the government.

Created in 2012, the program started with 18 people agreeing to spend six months in Washington, D.C., to work on five high-impact projects aimed at supporting the economy while adopting the government’s new digital strategy. Since then, 96 people have passed through the fellowship program, creating or contributing to high-profile projects in the public and private sectors.

“What began as an experiment is becoming a success,” President Obama said in a YouTube clip posted Monday. “That’s why I am making it permanent. From now on, Presidential Innovation Fellows will be an integral part of our government.”


Under the order, the program will be housed under the General Services Administration, maintaining the same focus the program has had since its inception: Recruit the best technological minds the country has to offer so they can partner with government agencies to create a better way to serve the public.

Past fellows have gone on to work at tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Twitter or have created their own startups. Others have stayed in government, helping to establish offices like GSA’s 18F or the U.S. Digital Service.

Fellows have contributed to some of the more high-profile technology efforts of the past few years, including the launch, the Police Data Initiative, Blue Button and the RFP-EZ platform.

“The hope is this continues to encourage a culture of public service among our innovators and tech entrepreneurs, so that we can keep building a government that’s as modern, innovative and engaging as our incredible tech sector is,” Obama said.

Along with the order, the White House announced this year’s class of fellows:

  • Adam Bonnifield of Washington, D.C.: a developer and the co-founder of Spinnakr, a platform for making big data accessible and actionable.
  • Ross Dakin of Palo Alto, California: a software engineer who created financial services at Upstart Network, cyberthreat intelligence tools at BrightPoint Security and same-day delivery services at Deliv.
  • Luke Keller of Brooklyn, New York: a product designer at education nonprofit Character Lab.
  • Kate McCall-Kiley of Kensington, Maryland: a designer who previously served on innovation teams at Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital One, and Design for America.
  • Josh Patterson of Columbia, South Carolina: a data scientist who most recently led the development of big data systems at Accenture Technology Labs.
  • Alexandra Pelletier of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts: the digital lead for the Innovation Acceleration Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The program also is detailed in a lengthy post on Medium, which highlights a number of projects that have created or adopted since 2012.

Read the full executive order below.

Greg Otto

Written by Greg Otto

Greg Otto is Editor-in-Chief of CyberScoop, overseeing all editorial content for the website. Greg has led cybersecurity coverage that has won various awards, including accolades from the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Greg worked for the Washington Business Journal, U.S. News & World Report and WTOP Radio. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Temple University.

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