Promoting employee-powered solutions at HHS — The HHS IDEA Lab

  1. Each Operating Division explores new ways to embrace innovation and leadership should overtly demonstrate their commitment. We suggest including a way to credit managers who recognize and reward innovation.
  2. Each Operating Division considers creating a “creativity zone” — e.g., protected time for meritorious ideas that advance a key agency strategy. We’d like to see each Operating Division allow employees to submit proposals for solutions they’d like to test, and then provide protected time for those employees to test out their ideas. Private sector organizations, such as Google, use this method to promote creativity — and reap the benefits (Gmail began as a “20% time” project).
  3. Each Operating Division develops its own innovation awards programs focused on the needs of its agencies and stakeholders. Operating Divisions can model their innovation awards programs on the HHS Innovates Awards Program, or customize their innovation awards. The IDEA Lab will share its awards platform and help support your needs. Next year, we’d like each Operating Division to nominate its top innovation, which could be showcased to the Secretary and publicly announced.
  4. We plan to work with the White House to develop mechanisms to help innovators move more fluidly across the Department and outside of HHS. Exposure to new settings and new people is critical for idea generation. We need to figure out how to allow employees to gain valuable experiences outside of their home offices.
  5. Make open source development the default for how information technology projects are developed across HHS. Open source development is often less expensive, more flexible, and more closely attuned to stakeholder needs than proprietary development. While it may not be appropriate in every circumstance, the use of open source methods should be encouraged wherever possible.
  6. Address gaps in our calendar and email systems. A major barrier to cross-departmental collaboration is our inability to share calendars, schedule cross-agency meetings, or work virtually across the HHS network. Interoperability of information technology systems is a prerequisite for effective collaboration across Operating Divisions.
  7. Finally, we plan to re-invigorate the HHS Innovation Council to continue our discussions on barriers to innovation and the development of solutions to overcome these barriers. Each Operating Division would participate in the Council discussions, and would commit to piloting new solutions using the Council as a forum for sharing best practices and connecting across silos.

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We promote the use of innovation across the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to better enhance and protect the health & well-being of Americans.

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HHS IDEA Lab

HHS IDEA Lab

We promote the use of innovation across the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to better enhance and protect the health & well-being of Americans.