Federal Government Challenges and Contests

What is a Challenge?

In a challenge, a “seeker” challenges “solvers” to identify a solution to a particular problem, or rewards contestants for accomplishing a goal. The solutions may be: ideas, designs, logos, videos, finished products, digital games, or mobile applications.

<p>
  There are many challenge success stories in government:
</p>

<ul>
  <li>
    <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/competes_report_on_prizes_final.pdf">Challenges Conducted in 2011 Under America COMPETES Act Authority</a> (PDF, 486 KB, 53 pages, March 2012)
  </li>
  <li>
    <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/competes_prizesreport_dec-2013.pdf">Challenges Conducted in 2012 Under America COMPETES Act Authority</a> (PDF, 1,257 KB, 95 pages, December 2013)
  </li>
</ul>

<p>
  Challenges can offer incentive prizes that are either monetary or non-monetary. Examples of non-monetary prizes can include:
</p>

<ul>
  <li>
    A meeting with an important official;
  </li>
  <li>
    The opportunity to attend, or speak at, a conference;
  </li>
  <li>
    Recognition on your agency&#8217;s website, or at an awards ceremony
  </li>
</ul>

<p>
  ​<a href="http://www.gsaelibrary.gsa.gov/ElibMain/sinDetails.do?scheduleNumber=541&specialItemNumber=541+4G&executeQuery=YES">Challenge platforms</a> are the online tools that provide a forum for the seeker to post the problem, or call-to-action, and invite a community of solvers to suggest, collaborate on, and judge solutions.
</p>

<h2>
  Why It&#8217;s Important
</h2>

<p>
  Challenges, prizes, and other incentive-based strategies can be used by federal agencies to find innovative or cost-effective solutions.
</p>

<p>
  Challenges allow the public and the government to co-create. They allow government to tap into the collective knowledge and resources of the public, and help the public more easily contribute their expertise to find better solutions.
</p>

<p>
  Among the benefits outlined in <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/memoranda/2010/m10-11.pdf">OMB&#8217;s 2010 memo</a> (PDF, 94 KB, 12 pages, March 2010), challenges:
</p>

<ul>
  <li>
    Establish an important goal without having to choose the approach or the team that is most likely to succeed;
  </li>
  <li>
    Pay only for results;
  </li>
  <li>
    Highlight excellence in a particular domain of human endeavor to motivate, inspire, and guide others;
  </li>
  <li>
    Increase the number and diversity of the individuals, organizations, and teams addressing a particular problem; or promote the challenge to national or international significance;
  </li>
  <li>
    Improve the skills of the participants in the competition;
  </li>
  <li>
    Stimulate private sector investment that is many times greater than the cash value of the prize;
  </li>
  <li>
    Further a federal agency&#8217;s mission by attracting more interest and attention to a defined program, activity, or issue of concern; and
  </li>
  <li>
    Capture the public&#8217;s imagination and change the public perception of what is possible.
  </li>
</ul>

<h3>
  Next Step
</h3>

<p>
  Ready to get started?
</p>

<p>
  Check out the details on these types of challenges:
</p>

<ul>
  <li>
    <a title="Ideation Challenges" href="/2013/11/14/ideation-challenges/">Ideation Challenges</a>
  </li>
  <li>
    <a title="Software and Apps Challenges" href="/2013/11/06/software-and-apps-challenges/">Software and Apps Challenges</a>
  </li>
  <li>
    <a title="Creative Challenge Contests" href="/2013/10/31/creative-challenge-contests/">Creative Challenge Contests</a>
  </li>
  <li>
    <a title="Technology Demonstration and Market Stimulation Challenges" href="/2013/10/31/technology-demonstration-and-market-stimulation-challenges/">Technology Demonstration and Market Stimulation Prizes</a>
  </li>
</ul>