2018 Government Innovation Awards

Rising Star: Ryan Hillard

IT Specialist/Systems Developer, Business Technology Solutions, Office of the CIO,</p>

Ryan Hillard 

The Small Business Administration has a total annual budget of less than $1 billion, which means there usually is not a lot of funding to pursue big, ambitious ideas. And that makes what IT Specialist Ryan Hillard has been able to accomplish all the more impressive.

“Ryan gets the long game and the money piece of it, that we’re not made of money,” SBA CIO Maria Roat said. “You know, $10,000 is a lot for us, so we’re very careful [about what we approve].”

Colleagues describe Hillard’s impact on SBA’s modernization initiatives as transformational. For instance, he played a central role in revamping the SBA.gov website, instituting innovation sprints and spearheading a series of new initiatives, including pilot programs to incorporate small-business loan guidance and SBA resources into popular commercial digital assistants such as Alexa and Cortana.

Hillard also helped develop Lender Match, a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders, and he helped curate and grow the Idea Lab, a co-working environment that promotes better collaboration among employees and better cross pollination of ideas.

In addition, he moved SBA’s website into the cloud, which has improved response times and positioned the agency to quickly recover from denial-of-service attacks by publishing replacement versions of the site within 90 seconds.

“That’s the stuff that [outside] people don’t see, but the IT folks in the background go, ‘Oh, that’s sexy!’” Roat said.

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