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FAQs

Application process

All United States citizens and nationals (residents of American Samoa and Swains Island) are eligible to apply.

PIF is a 12-month program, during which a Fellow will work on innovation projects across federal agencies. Fellows and agency partners can mutually agree to extend the fellowship for up to a total of two years.

We accept applications once per year starting the late winter/early spring. Please check our apply page for the current application deadline and information. If you are interested in the PIF program or other opportunities with the Technology Transformation Services, join our mailing list.

Applications are currently closed. We recruit annually and usually open applications late winter through early spring of each calendar year. Please visit apply.pif.gov for more information.

PIF seeks diverse cohorts of mid-to-senior-level experts in data and AI, engineering, product, design and experience, and digital strategy. We also seek innovators who bring different lived experiences and perspectives to problems, so that we’re addressing them in equitable ways. We strongly encourage you to review our detailed position descriptions at apply.pif.gov. Candidates are evaluated on a combination of subject-matter expertise; proven ability to thrive in ambiguity; and core values, including dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

No. PIF does not require a certain level of education in order to be eligible to apply to or work at PIF.

All applications will be reviewed by a panel of subject matter experts against a scoring rubric created for this role. In order to properly be able to evaluate your previous experience, we recommend being as detailed as possible in your resume. We also recommend reviewing and following our general resume guidance, which provides helpful examples of the level of detail that is expected.

All interviews for Presidential Innovation Fellows occur virtually (this is always the case).

Fun, we hope! For candidates selected to interview, here’s our process.

  • First round interviews include skills (your area of expertise), core competencies (behavioral questions, leadership, and navigating ambiguity), and core values (including diversity, equity, and inclusion).
  • Second round (and final) interviews are with PIF’s federal agency partner(s). This is a conversation with the agency’s PIF project champion. The PIF team will share finalist resumes with agencies who then identify candidates that they would like to interview.
  • Format: All interviews occur virtually and are typically scheduled for an hour in length. We offer live captioning or other accessibility assistance to all candidates. If you are selected to interview, a member of our Talent Team will be in touch to ensure we’ll have any accessibility considerations covered.
  • Offer Process: Once the agency interviews are complete, the PIF team will meet with each agency to discuss their selections. This gives us our list of finalists to whom we make offers! We operate within the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), and the GSA HR team will then make tentative offers to selected candidates. The PIF team will also set up calls with each incoming PIF to welcome them into our program and community, and answer any questions!

The Presidential Innovation Fellows program is a competitive process that attracts thousands of interesting and capable candidates each year. Most of our fellowship positions require ability to work in a modern technical, design and product environment. Many have significant experience and track records of delivering at a very high-level, are proven leaders, and innovative thinkers. We look at domain expertise, functional expertise, and many other factors, including how the overall group will work together.

Candidates can share their project preference with us, though there is no guarantee you will interview for that project. Project matching comes down to the right skills for a federal agency’s needs.

We do not consider recommendations in the application process.

No, you do not need clearance to apply. If you are selected for a position, a GSA staff member will provide you instructions on how to begin the necessary clearance process once you accept the tentative job offer.

All government positions require some level of background check. Most roles at PIF require a public trust position clearance, which is more thorough than most private-sector background checks but not as intensive as a higher government security clearance. The clearance process adds some time and forms to the hiring process, but the GSA Human Resources team will guide you through it. GSA is the federal agency under which PIF operates.

Onboarding

The pre-employment process can take weeks or months depending on the depth of the background check, and your responsiveness to the different steps (i.e. fingerprinting, completing security forms, etc.).

PIF operates within Technology Transformation Services (TTS), a tech organization within the federal government’s U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), an agency that covers everything from government real estate to IT. You may see TTS and GSA referenced in links or our hiring process - that means you’re in the right place! You can learn more about these organizations on the GSA website.

Yes, fellows are hired as full time federal employees qualified at the GS-15 level with locality adjustment for the Washington DC Metro area. Currently, the salary for PIF's pay grade and locality is $144,128. For current information please see the OPM Salaries & Wages page.

Yes, fellows are considered full time employees, and are eligible to receive health coverage and other benefits (such as retirement savings account eligibility) through the General Services Administration. You can learn more on the GSA website.

Prior to receiving a final offer from the program, candidates under consideration will be asked to complete a credit check and Moderate Background Investigation. In some cases, fellows may have to complete higher levels of clearance in order to work at certain agencies or prior to being deployed on certain projects.

Location

Presidential Innovation Fellows are typically based in Washington, D.C., for the duration of the fellowship. Fellows will spend a portion of their time working at one of the federal agencies to which they are assigned, which are often in Washington, D.C. or the surrounding area. Fellows occasionally co-work and collaborate on projects in space provided by the General Services Administration. In addition to onsite work at agencies, we believe that sharing a D.C. “home base” helps foster community.

No. Unfortunately, the government does not allow us to cover moving or relocation expenses.

While fellows are placed across the government, the PIF program is administratively housed in the General Services Administration (GSA). All fellows are hired by GSA and then detailed to agencies. All fellows are based in D.C.

Employee health and safety are paramount during this time. We are actively monitoring public health guidelines and evaluating the best way to ensure our cohort works with greatest safety and community. For example, most current fellows and all PIF team members are teleworking as of May 2020.

Other questions

Presidential Innovation Fellows have the history, opportunity, and responsibility to rally and ship human-centered solutions to our nation’s greatest challenges. Our program structure, timeline, and projects are continuing stronger than ever. We have a robust portfolio of projects and, on October 19, 2020, we announced 34 new Presidential Innovation Fellows who will be working alongside 22 federal agency projects to build innovative solutions to issues of national importance, including COVID-19 response. We’re actively monitoring and prioritizing health and safety. Now, as always, Presidential Innovation Fellows are needed to modernize and build resilience in our government, and we are grateful for our fellows’ service - as well as that of every public servant.

No. While PIF was founded by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 2012, we have been administered within the General Services Administration (GSA) since 2013. We’re proud to lead cross-agency innovation that leads to better government by and for the people. Our work may align to the President’s Management Agenda (i.e. improving customer experience), and we have led or contributed to White House innovation efforts (i.e. promoting the trustworthy use of AI, or serving as first responders to healthcare.gov), but we are a non-partisan, apolitical, administration-agnostic organization! We’re here for the people.

At this time we do not allow for part-time positions; working on some of the nation’s biggest challenges is a full-time job.

No, but there are some great organizations where college students and recent graduates can get involved in civic tech. We recommend checking out Coding It Forward, Code for America, and United States of Technologists (USofTech), or researching “civic tech” or “public interest tech” in your area.

The number of fellows throughout the year varies, depending on the needs of our partner agencies and projects we are supporting. We currently have nearly 60 fellows in the program, 34 of whom are in our newest 2021 cohort, and 20+ of whom are returning fellows. We typically recruit 20-30 fellows for each new cohort.

More than 50% of fellows take government leadership roles after PIF. For example, one PIF became the U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer under the Obama administration! Many others take exciting private-sector roles and even start their own companies. We have an active alumni foundation that hosts networking and community events.

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My life changed when I became a PIF. I became a part of the world's best organization for change, and it's been my most treasured experience.