The journalist in me knows to resist stereotypes at every turn. Every time you think you have a clearly defined pigeonhole, something—or someone—pops up to spoil the neatly concocted world view. When it comes to government employees, this little typecasting switch in me too often goes off, and I immediately think the worst—perhaps it comes from reading too many densely written missives from CMS. Thanks goodness I encountered Todd Park.

Park, the chief technology officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, spoke recently in Chicago on an industry panel that addressed IT’s role in promoting community health. He turns every untoward stereotype about government—and government employees—on its head. “This is not your grandfather’s HHS,” Park said. He exuberantly laid out his vision for a reinvigorated department that is all but synonymous with impenetrable regulations. He described a newly defined government role in facilitating IT innovation, one that can come by unleashing all the dormant creativity in the industry, “a thousand flowers blooming,” he said.

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