Special Government Employee Onboarding

Reducing the burden of onboarding for expert advisors in Federal Advisory Committees.

Executive Summary

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) uses over 1,200 Federal advisory committee members serving as Special Government Employees (SGEs) to provide peer review of grant applications and broad programmatic advice and guidance to the direction of the NIH research portfolio. Attracting top leaders in biomedical science, law, economics, management and public policy is critical to keeping NIH on the cutting edge of scientific breakthroughs. Upon agreeing to serve on a committee, appointees receive a packet of 14 paper forms comprising 94 pages, many of which ask for repetitive information. Members serving on multiple committees must complete separate sets of identical paperwork.

The onerous task of onboarding a SGE requires many hours of labor and places a significant burden on members who typically serve only three to nine days in a year, which leads to potential members declining to serve and NIH losing vital expertise needed to advise on complex scientific priorities. On the back end of this process, federal staff spends a significant amount of time reviewing the paperwork and requesting missing or illegible information.

This project is designing an interactive portal that allows data sharing with NIH’s existing administrative systems and will be accessible on computers and mobile devices. The intent is to reduce the paperwork burden to the members, minimize errors, and significantly improve the programmatic effectiveness of the onboarding process.

A project supported by the: HHS Secretary's Ventures Fund

Team Members

Jennifer Spaeth, NIH
David Alperin, NIH
Pablo Gersten, NIH
Claire Harris, NIH
Kim Hetkowski, NIH
Phuong Pham, NIH
Sharon Sealey, NIH
Anna Snouffer, NIH
Michelle Trout, NIH


March 2016: Project receives support from the HHS Secretary's Ventures Fund

September 2017: Support from HHS Secretary's Ventures Fund ends

Project Sponsor

Dr. Larry Tabak, Principal Deputy Director, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health

Additional Information