Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel was tasked at that time with "developing a comprehensive government-wide strategy to build a 21st-century digital government that delivers better digital services to the American people."
Along with the memo, the administration released a 36-page policy paper (PDF) unveiling that strategy: "Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People." The policy provides agencies with a 12-month road map of technology progress.
According to the paper's authors, the federal government "must enable the public, entrepreneurs and our own government programs to better leverage the rich wealth of federal data to pour into applications and services by ensuring that data is open and machine-readable by default."
The new fellowship program, being launched by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, will seek to pair individuals from outside government with federal employees for "tours of duty" to work on innovative new projects, according to an e-mailed news release from the White House. During a press conference Wednesday, Park said the White House expects that the first 15 recruits will begin working in July and will be expected to “produce products” within six months. They will be paid with funds drawn from the budgets of the agencies where they will work with no need for additional appropriations, Park said.
Among the five target programs for innovation fellows will be a series of "open data initiatives" aimed at stimulating "a rising tide of innovation that utilizes government data to create tools that help Americans better navigate their world," such as by helping them find healthcare providers, the program's website notes.
A second aim will be to expand the Blue Button program—a Veterans Affairs Department innovation—of text-based downloads of patient medical records. The "Blue Button for America" initiative will aim to "develop apps and create awareness of tools that help individuals get access to their personal health records—current medications and drug allergies, claims and treatment data, and lab reports—that can improve their health and healthcare."