2018 Government Innovation Awards
Rising Star: Oki Mek
Chief Product Officer, Division of Acquisition, Department of Health and Human Services
Oki Mek is behind a blockchain proof of concept that could revolutionize how government agencies handle procurement. By providing new visibility into Department of Health and Human Services acquisition data, Mek is helping the agency leverage its buying power to save billions of dollars a year.
Mek spearheaded a distributed-ledger solution that gives acquisition teams real-time information on pricing, terms and conditions in 10 categories of purchases. The project, called HHS Accelerate, also incorporates artificial intelligence to highlight relevant data and streamline the procurement process. Although planning started in the spring, development and initial deployment took just six weeks this summer.
“Oki has been instrumental in this project since he is a security expert and has been able to communicate the benefits of blockchain…to the larger HHS enterprise,” said Jose Arrieta, HHS’ associate deputy assistant secretary for acquisition. “Oki has adopted the idea of human-centered design, and he has been able to make it work in a complex environment with lots of different stakeholders.”
Before joining Arrieta’s division in April, Mek was a senior information system security officer at HHS, with a focus on cybersecurity management. He started his government career in the military and then moved to the private sector, where he worked for GTI Federal on behalf of the Energy Department for seven years before coming to HHS.
“He’s extremely motivated,” Arrieta said of Mek. “He will be an executive someday.”
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