Challenges And Prize Competitions

​Want to Expand Your Innovation Base? Dive In, Run a Challenge, and Listen to Your Customers

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) is a small agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whose mission is to increase the interoperability and use of electronic health records and health IT. We don’t have the funding and personnel of larger agencies, and, for the most part, this is fine. The entrenched industry stakeholders know what’s happening at ONC, our policies, toolkits and initiatives. But to be truly innovative, we need input from more than just the big stakeholders, particularly in this age of smartphones and apps.

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The Data Briefing: It Takes an Online Community to Digitally Transform an Organization

The open source movement has changed how we develop software, create content, and even do science. Using a community to help complete projects and bring about change has become so ubiquitous in the last ten years that it has even earned a name — crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a powerful tool and is now being used to help organizations digitally transform. “Driving successful change in a large organization has always been one of the most difficult activities in business… .

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A New Prize Challenge for Virtual and Augmented Reality Learning Tools

Summary: The Administration has launched a new competition for virtual and augmented reality developers to create learning tools to support career and technical education. “I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create. . . educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game. I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up.” President Obama, March 2011, speaking about the need for innovation in education.

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Challenge.gov Launches One-Click Reporting for Annual Prizes Data Call

****This year, the deadline for agencies to submit their reporting of incentive prize competitions and challenges for FY16 comes earlier than most. Roughly two weeks from today, by Nov. 18, federal agencies are required to submit their accounts of every prize, competition, or challenge that launched, ran or completed in FY16 via email. Challenge.gov launched a new feature this week to support agencies in their efforts. The Annual Prize Reporting tool equips agency challenge managers with a one-click tool for downloading key data on their challenges.

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GAO to Congress: Federal Agencies Are Making a Difference Through Open Innovation

Federal agencies confront tough problems every day. In searching for solutions, agencies will want to attract different perspectives, test new products, build capacity and communities, and increase public awareness. How do they do it? The answer: open innovation. Federal agencies need to engage and collaborate with all sectors of society, a task made easier by online technologies, says a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued last week. OPEN INNOVATION: Practices to Engage Citizens and Effectively Implement Federal Initiatives is accompanied by an infographic and podcast, all well worth your while.

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NASA: Open Gov Plan 2016 Outline

Here is the outline for our 2016 Open Government Plan. Let us know what you think. We’ve also posted this on GitHub/NASA for your comments: https://github.com/nasa/Open-Gov-Plan-v4. NASA and Open Government NASA is an open government agency based on the founding legislation in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which calls for participation and sharing in the conduct of how we go about the business of expanding the frontiers of knowledge, advancing understanding of the universe, and serving the American public.

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Another Year, Another Leap Forward for Prize Competitions

If federal agencies need an incentive to be more open and innovative in addressing critical issues, they need look no further than news this week from the White House. On August 10, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued its Implementation of Federal Prize Authority Progress Report for fiscal year 2015, and it’s chock-full of examples of how agencies have advanced their missions through crowdsourcing and open competition.

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DARPA: A Case Study in Open Innovation

You may not know it, but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has changed your life. There’s the Internet, for starters. And if that isn’t enough, the agency also has played a pivotal role in shaping GPS, stealth aircraft and drone technology. In fact, ever since its creation under President Eisenhower, DARPA has been transforming life on and off the battlefield. And the ideas haven’t dried up. A scan of programs currently in the works reveals DARPA to be as forward-looking and vital as ever.

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The Content Corner: How to Leverage User-Generated Content to Resonate With Your Audience

User-Generated Content (UGC) is a buzzword as of late, popularized recently due to the ever increasing demand for new content. To define the phrase, let’s look to a shining example of it,Wikipedia, as a source, “any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats,tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements, and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites.

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NASA Space Apps Challenge: 2016 Global Winners!

We’re thrilled to announce the Space Apps 2016 Global Award Winners!! These projects well represent the best of the best innovative thinking this year. Congratulations to all the teams. We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming NASA launch in Florida. Best Use of Data: Scintilla, created at the Space Apps Pasadena, California main stage event, mitigates the impact of poor air quality in the global community by democratizing air quality data collection.

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White House: Challenges, Citizen Science Among Top Innovation Efforts of Past 8 Years

The White House this week released a report detailing the impact of 100 initiatives that have expanded U.S. capacity in science, technology and innovation over the past eight years. Evident throughout the report is the influence of Challenge.gov and CitizenScience.gov, two open innovation programs managed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). In fact, among the top 15 examples in the report are the increased use of prize competitions and expanded opportunities for citizen science and crowdsourcing, both areas where GSA is helping to lead the charge.

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700 Strong: Challenge.gov Crosses New Milestone in Open Innovation

Challenge.gov, the official website for crowdsourcing and prize competitions across government, celebrated its five-year anniversary in October 2015. Now, not even one year later, the site has reached another milestone. On Monday, two agencies launched new challenges, bringing the total number of competitions on Challenge.gov across the 700 mark. The 700th challenge, Start a SUD Startup, comes from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The challenge looks to award biomedical scientists up to $100,000 to help transition their research ideas into viable business opportunities.

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A Problem Without Definition Is a Challenge Without a Solution

A prize competition often starts with a problem. In order to get help to find a solution, people need to clearly understand your problem. Understanding and effectively communicating your problem isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Problems are like spaghetti—messy and complex, says Denys Resnick, Executive Vice President of Strategic Programs at NineSigma Inc., which provides open innovation services. Resnick joined Denice Shaw, the lead for challenges and prizes at the U.

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Open Data Democratizes Innovation

Americans Use Public Data to Improve the Lives of Fellow Citizens Data is one of our most important national assets. It informs our policy and our national priorities. But as we have seen time and time again, the most effective way to govern is to engage with the public directly. Thanks to the President’s Executive Order requiring that agencies make data open, we are democratizing access to data.

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The Challenge of Partnerships: ‘The Good, Bad and Ugly’ of Prize Collaborations

Well-executed partnerships can create better solutions and place them on a bigger platform. Poorly executed ones, on the other hand, can send federal agencies into a bureaucratic tailspin. To partner or not to partner: That is the question. “If you are going to do one, don’t do it because it seems like a good idea,” says Sandeep Patel, open innovation manager at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Idea Lab.

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MCC Builds on Lessons Learned in Launch of Second Open Data Challenge

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)’s first open data challenge taught MCC some very valuable lessons in making its public data truly usable by the public. The challenges ask masters and PhD students to find creative ways to use MCC’s publicly-available evaluation data and provide new insights into its evaluation results. As the second challenge launches, MCC is building on these lessons learned from the first challenge: Students are a prime audience for an open data challenge.

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Buying Power: New Labs Will Foster Innovation in Government Acquisition

The slow, tedious federal acquisition process has long been the butt of jokes in the private sector. If the government had wanted to buy the original Nintendo, one might say, it would have all the paperwork in place by the time the rest of the world had moved on to the XBox. But that culture is changing, thanks in no small part to many of the efforts first featured here on DigitalGov.

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Tapping ‘Teen Power’—Challenging Youth with Prize Competitions

Sometimes in crowdsourcing, you want to take your problem straight to a specific crowd. And sometimes that crowd is still in school. Challenge.gov has seen many federal agencies launch prize competitions to educate and engage high school students. These include a NASA challenge that asked students to develop devices that could protect astronauts from radiation during space flight. Two current challenges also take this approach, hoping to inspire students to become interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

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Digging Into the Data of Our Customer Survey

As a followup to the recent post about our annual customer satisfaction survey, we wanted to dig into the data and share some of the overall results, to give you some more insights into how we’re using your feedback to improve our programs and services. Background: For the past three years, GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) has conducted an annual survey to measure customer satisfaction.

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A Sense of Purpose: Strong Communities Can Overcome Big Challenges

Cook-offs, bike rides, parades and dance parties—these are not the traditional public hearing-style events for which government agencies are known. But these events helped to fuel the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rebuild by Design Challenge (PDF, 484 KB, 1 page, January 2016), boosting the collective morale among a complex, multidisciplinary network of engaged stakeholders. Because the challenge’s community structure was based on a common goal—to rebuild following Hurricane Sandy—participants left their egos at home, shared information and learned from one another.

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Trends on Tuesday: Providing Anytime, Anywhere Government Through Mobile App Competitions

Agencies have used an open data competition approach in their quest to provide anytime, anywhere government. For example, in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted the Apps for the Environment challenge and has a hub for apps created using EPA data. Here’s an update on challenges hosted by other agencies: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), hosted a nationwide Reference Data Challenge to create mobile apps through Devpost.

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Challenges, Crowdsourcing, Citizen Science: What’s the Dif?

There’s more than one way to harness the wisdom of the crowd. In honor of December’s monthly theme, we’re diving into and defining the various ways that federal agencies use public contributions to meet real needs and fulfill important objectives. Crowdsourcing Two’s company, three’s a crowd—and getting input from many is crowdsourcing. A White House blog post defined crowdsourcing as “a process in which individuals or organizations submit an open call for voluntary contributions from a large group of unknown individuals (“the crowd”) or, in some cases, a bounded group of trusted individuals or experts.

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Challenge App-titude: A Successful Newcomer Offers a Few Tips

The Reference Data Challenge, launched this summer, was a call for innovative approaches to a long-standing role of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to make “critically evaluated reference data available to scientists, engineers and the general public.” This challenge—our first-ever app contest and second prize competition as an agency—had the dual aims of improving awareness about and usability of our data. We invited submissions of mobile apps that used at least one of six eligible NIST datasets.

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All In: Partnering Across Sectors Can Boost Competition Results

We’ve heard the phrase a million times: Nobody does it alone. Still, it rings true no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. When it comes to crowdsourcing competitions, government agencies are making breakthroughs in a variety of fields by partnering with companies, nonprofit organizations and others beyond the federal framework. The White House announced more than 20 new prize competitions in October, many of them collaborations with industry and academia.

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Challenges & Crowdsourcing: A Quick Overview and Look Ahead

This month we’re highlighting articles about challenge competitions and crowdsourcing across the federal government. Federal agencies can gain a wealth of ideas, services, solutions and products by asking a large, diverse crowd to contribute their talents and skills. Simply put, crowdsourcing means engaging the crowd. Often referred to as a form of open collaboration or innovation, crowdsourcing takes many forms, including challenges (or prize competitions), hackathons, data jams, code-a-thons, workplace surveys, open ideation, micro-tasks or micro-work, citizen science, and crowdfunding.

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White House Kicks Off Challenge.gov Anniversary with Wealth of New Prize Competitions

In a call to action issued Oct. 7, the White House announced several new programs challenging citizens to help federal agencies solve problems in areas ranging from space exploration to education. Hosted in conjunction with Georgetown University, the Case Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, the event featured activities and discussions aimed at creating more ambitious and effective cross-sector prize competitions. Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation for White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), used the forum to issue a challenge of his own to the invite-only crowd, which consisted of prize experts from government, industry and academia.

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The People and Teams That Power High-Impact Incentive Prizes

Federal agencies have used prize competitions and challenges to drive competition and spark innovation for nearly a decade. In September 2010, as part of President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation [PDF], the Administration launched Challenge.gov, an online platform that enables federal agencies to engage civic innovators, entrepreneurs, and citizen scientists in prize competitions and challenges designed to help carry out agency missions and benefit society. The Administration is helping organize two events this week to celebrate the success of Challenge.

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Success Spotlight: Challenge Takes Students, Biomedicine to Next Level

Leaders in the biomedical field will applaud a team of student researchers October 9 for developing a potentially lifesaving device in response to a competition published on Challenge.gov in March. The accolades come a day after the website, a no-cost platform for federal agencies to publish and administer incentivized competitions, celebrates its five-year anniversary. In its Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) Challenge, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called for students to submit solutions for unmet global health and clinical needs.

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Not Just a Website: Challenge.gov Enables Agencies to Innovate with Incentives

Next month, Challenge.gov turns five. A technical platform, a listing of federal prize competitions, and consultation and support services for running impactful challenges all meld into the program, which brings the best ideas and talent together to solve mission-centric problems. To mark the milestone, the General Services Administration (GSA) will host a special event on Thursday, October 8th, to celebrate Challenge.gov’s accomplishments and to honor some of the visionary teams and individuals using incentivized competitions to spark significant change.

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Services Mean Success for Federal Challenges

Challenge.gov offers a number of services to help agencies create successful competitions. One challenge that recently wrapped up made use of the full range of these services to come up with some creative, useful apps that have nationwide implications. Presidential Innovation Fellow Jeff Meisel led the CitySDK (Software Development Kit) launch. The team wanted a different way to reach data consumers. The U.S. Census Bureau wanted to find a new way to create the most innovative data-driven apps sparking change in cities from coast to coast.

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NIST Hosts Reference Data Challenge to Create Mobile Apps

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wants YOU to help them build native apps. NIST launched the Reference Data Challenge to improve the way the agency shares scientific reference data. They want third party developers from around the country to build native apps that aggregate and improve the usability of free NIST datasets and resources. They are offering $45,000 in prize money and are taking submissions until the end of September.

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An Innovation Framework That Delivers: The SunShot Catalyst Program

Behind every great innovation is a team. And behind successful innovation teams are efficient tools, processes, and most importantly, people. The Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative funds projects that make solar energy more affordable and accessible for Americans. As part of the initiative, the SunShot Catalyst open innovation program seeks to rapidly deliver solar solutions through prize challenges. Catalyst has been recognized as a leader in the innovation field. The International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM) recently awarded Catalyst the ISPIM Grand Prize 2015 for excellence in innovation management.

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Accelerating the Use of Prizes to Address Tough Challenges

Later this year, the Federal government will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Challenge.gov, a one-stop shop that has prompted tens of thousands of individuals, including engaged citizens and entrepreneurs, to participate in more than 400 public-sector prize competitions with more than $72 million in prizes. The May 2015 report to Congress on the Implementation of Federal Prize Authority for Fiscal Year 2014 highlights that Challenge.gov is a critical component of the Federal government’s use of prize competitions to spur innovation.

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Addressing Social Issues Through Challenge Competitions

Innovation challenges leverage public creativity to address important problems. They can also be a tool for reaching and educating the next generation of leaders about social issues. The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently wrapped up the second year of the Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition. The competition aims to encourage research and innovation in affordable housing, raise practitioner and future practitioner capacity, and foster cross-cutting team work within the design and community development process.

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Competitions Launch Start-ups and Engage Entrepreneurs

When people hear about challenge competitions, they most often ask about the results. What worked and why did it work? Two great examples are featured on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy site, which include the “needle in the haystack” solvers for a space mass competition and eleven entrepreneurial start-ups that are using breast cancer research. You’ll also read about how the Federal Community of Practice for Challenges and Prizes is creating a toolkit with user-centered design that ultimately will be developed into an interactive resource for government agencies to run incentive competitions, from conception through to implementation.

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NASA Reaches New Frontiers in 3D Printing

3D printing has gone out of this world. Earlier this month, DigitalGov covered the NIH 3D Print Exchange, where 3D printing is supporting scientific learning and research. Today, we’re highlighting a project that is reaching brand new heights: NASA’s In-space Manufacturing Initiative. Self-Sufficiency in Space NASA is currently conducting 3D printing experiments aboard the International Space Station. In November, a printer faceplate was the first object successfully 3D printed in space.

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Trend Watch 2015: What’s in the Forecast for Digital Government?

In January on DigitalGov, we’ll highlight pieces looking at trends we see coming in the digital government space in 2015 and beyond. We have lined up articles around: Customer Service Data 3D Printing at NIH and NASA Accessibility Mobile, and Training. Check back Monday, when we kick-off the month with 15 Government Customer Service Trends. And you can look at some of our most recent monthly theme articles in: crowdsourcing, user experience, and mobile.

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The API Briefing: Make 2015 the Year You Create an App

According to some experts, over 80% of Americans will make a least one New Year’s resolution. There are the usual “lose weight,” “quit smoking,” or “exercise more” resolutions. Another popular set of resolutions involves learning new skills. So, if you are looking for a way to improve yourself while helping others, think about making a resolution to learn how to build a mobile app that can be used in disaster relief.

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Crowdsourcing for Accessibility

While we’re anticipating the Section 508 refresh, many government digital media teams are facing the task of incorporating WCAG 2.0 standards (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) in their projects despite having limited staff resources and budget constraints. We can use creative solutions, such as crowdsourcing, to overcome those challenges and make our works accessible. Our teams can call on the public to share their time and skills at events or in projects where they’ll work with others to solve accessibility problems in design, development, content, etc.

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Challenge & Prize Competition Round-Up

We’ve had an excellent year of training and community events for the federal challenge and prize community, so for the month of December DigitalGov University has taken a look at the events we’ve hosted this year and rounded them up in line with this month’s Crowdsourcing theme. On Wednesday, December 10, the Challenge and Prize Community of Practice hosted its quarterly in-person meeting to highlight the roles and responsibilities that Challenge.

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Innovation Through Market Stimulation

Crowdsourcing and prize competitions can take many forms, which makes them a great open innovation tool. A large group of federal agencies and other partners has launched a competition that also involves a secondary crowdsourcing element. The Nutrient Sensor Challenge is a market stimulation prize competition to accelerate the development of affordable, accurate, and reliable sensors for measuring nutrient levels in water. Nutrients are a natural part of ecosystems, but too much nitrogen and phosphorus causes big problems: harmful algal blooms can make pets and children sick, green water can shut down recreation, and species kills can result from impaired water conditions.

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Data Visualization Challenge: Using Open Data to Reduce Crime

Criminal justice agencies collect a variety of information and use it in multiple ways. Having a clear understanding of current realities is critical to shaping policies and improving the administration of justice. Police use data to identify hot spots; judges use it when they impose sentences; victim assistance staff use it to provide better services. The problem is that criminal justice datasets are often large, complex, and contain a wide variety of geocodes and identifiers.

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Crowdsourcing Month: An Overview

This month we’ll be highlighting articles about crowdsourcing. These are the programs that use a variety of online mechanisms to get ideas, services, solutions, and products by asking a large, diverse crowd to contribute their expertise, talents, and skills. Among the mechanisms are hackathons, data jams, code-a-thons, prize competitions, workplace surveys, open ideation, micro-tasks or microwork, citizen science, crowdfunding, and more. A brief look at history outlines a few notable prize competitions, crowdsourcing where solvers are given a task and winners are awarded a prize: The X-Prize and its many iterations from personal space flight to unlocking the secrets of the ocean, Charles Lindburgh’s flight across the Atlantic for the Orteig Prize, and the 300 year-old Longitude Prize, launched by an act of Parliament in Britain to determine a ship’s longitude with the goal of reducing shipwrecks.

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CFPB’s IdeaBox: an Open-Source Internal Ideation Platform

IdeaBox is an application that helps an organization collect ideas, organize them, and solicit comments and votes on the ideas. Do you want to build an innovation program at your organization? Learn how you can leverage resources from IdeaBox, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s initiative to generate, incubate, and implement great ideas from employees across the agency by watching the recent DigitalGov University webinar. Your organization can take advantage of the CFPB’s: Open-source (FREE!

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Results Report: Robots Created for Competitions to Help Ebola Response

Challenge competitions were recently highlighted as two potential solutions to help with the Ebola crisis responses. The first is a grand challenge launched Oct. 17, 2014, by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID): Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development. The goal: To help health care workers on the front lines provide better care and stop the spread of Ebola. Engage the global community to identify ingenious ideas that deliver practical and cost-effective innovations in a matter of months, not years; Forge public private partnerships necessary to test and scale these innovations and; Provide critical funding to get some of the most promising ideas into the field quickly.

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Introducing the New Challenge.gov

Challenge.gov now hosts the full federal-wide listing of crowdsourcing competitions and has a back-end platform for agencies to create and manage their competitions. The site is managed and produced within GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technology (OCSIT) group. The main feature is a complete listing of federal challenge and prize competitions, including archives going back to 2010. For website visitors searching for competitions, this is an easy to search tool that can help people find competitions based on:

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Advice from USAID on Prize Competition Communication Strategies

A well-developed communications plan is critical to the success of a challenge competition, but too often it is one item managers leave to consider at the end of prize design. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Jarah Meador shared the Desal Prize plan and results in the September 16 webinar, “Why Your Gov Prize Competition Needs a Communications Strategy.” Consider the following advice and insight for help with planning your own challenge.

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Helpful Hints: Writing RFPs So Real Businesses Can Respond

If you have a hand in contracts for crowdsourcing initiatives and challenge and prize competitions, here are some helpful hints for you. We’ve gathered this list from the expert businesses that provide competition services. Haven’t heard about that? See GSA Schedule 541-4G. Background: Over the last two years, competition providers and consultants have become more specialized in niche areas where they have expertise, access to specific solver communities, and experience in driving outcomes based on the competition structure and goals.

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Cheaters, Thieves, Saboteurs & Other Nefarious Competitors

Challenge and prize competitions are competitive and not always squeaky clean. There is money at stake, pride, honor, and awards. So this Quartz/NexGov article, Crowdsourcing Behavior Encourages Malicious Behavior, Study Finds, that highlights the ugly side of competitions hits a raw nerve. The University of Southampton in the UK and the National Information and Communications Technology Australia (NICTA) conducted the study, examining recent crowdsourcing competitions. Crowdsourcing generally espouses openness and broad-based cooperation, but the researchers explained that it also brings out people’s worst competitive instincts.

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FTC Awards Five Winners from #DEFCON22 Robocall Honeypot Challenge

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had such great success with their first robocall challenge competition that the agency decided to take a different angle this year—targeting the skilled hackers at DEF CON 22, the annual defense conference in Las Vegas in early August. Five winners earned cash prizes and bragging rights for their creative technical solutions around building and hacking “honeypots” that spoofed illegal robocall experiences. Some details from the program managers:

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The API Briefing: Mining the Rich Data Resources of NASA – The International Space Apps Challenges

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has an enormous collection of aerospace and science data sets. NASA missions and projects can create amazing amounts of data. One example: the Earth Observing System Data and Information System has collected enough information to fill the Library of Congress (Data.NASA.gov). A more recent example: the Solar Dynamics Observatory receives 1.5 terabytes of data a day. As NASA admits, this much information can be overwhelming for agency API development.

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Challenge, Contract or Grant – Which tool is right for the job?

Choosing between a contract, a grant, or a public prize competition to get solutions to the problems your agency faces is a difficult task. Each is a tool that has different qualities and each might be the best choice for varying situations. Sam Ortega, the manager of the Centennial Challenges program at NASA, spoke about the subject recently on a DigitalGov University webinar. Being the head of a large federal public prize program, he had a lot to say about the benefits of crowdsourcing innovation through prizes.

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Deloitte Analysis: Craft of Incentive Prize Design

Federal challenge and prize competitions are in the news again. Our colleagues across government participated in research that resulted in a new report released June 19 from Deloitte University Press, The Craft of Prize Design: Lessons from the public sector. In the last five years, incentive prizes have transformed from an exotic open innovation tool to a proven innovation strategy for the public, private, and philanthropic sectors. Incentive prizes seem deceptively simple: Identify a problem, create and publicize a prize-based challenge for solving that problem, sign up diverse participants, and offer a reward to the winner.

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Introductory Call for the Disaster Apps Challenge

The National Defense University (NDU) is hosting a conference call Friday, May 23, to spread the word about the Disaster Apps Challenge Competition, which opened yesterday. This call is open to the public, specifically the people who are interested in learning more and possibly entering the competition. The goals: Introduce the challenge Explain the basis for meeting the challenge Answer your questions NDU will also be joined by “socialpreneur,” Nelson Jacobsen, CEO, Random Hacks of Kindness and the chief architect and guru who guides and grows Altavoz, the entertainment distribution company he co-founded in 2011.

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Citizen Engagement at NASA

Recently, the White House hosted Stakeholder Engagement Workshops—an informal meet-up for citizens and federal agencies to discuss progress on Open Government. The third version of our Open Gov Plan is due June 1st. My Open Innovation teammates and I took the opportunity to attend the event. We gained valuable insights from citizen activists on what they want to see in agency plans, as well as how they will judge our progress on White House mandates for transparency, collaboration, and participation.

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New White House Report: Prize Competition Use Increased 85% in 2013

We are thrilled to share an update from our competition colleagues at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The third annual comprehensive report detailing the use of prizes and competitions by federal agencies to spur innovation, engage citizen solvers, address tough problems, and advance their core missions is now available — Federal Prize Authority 2013. You can read details about the remarkable results from 87 prize competitions implemented by 25 federal agencies in fiscal year 2013, representing a more than 85 percent increase from 2012.

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Get Started with Challenge and Prize Competitions

Interested in running a challenge and prize competition, but don’t know where to start? Well, here are all the resources GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies has to offer: 1) Challenge.gov. Put your agency’s challenges on this government-wide listing and learn about more than 300 public prizes run over the past four years. You can filter by agency and challenge type, such as software, ideas, designs. Built and hosted by GSA, you can also use it to run crowdsourcing competitions end to end.

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Six Tips for Measuring Success in Challenge Competitions

You’ve run a challenge and prize competition, selected your winners, and distributed the prizes. If you think you’re done, guess again. There’s much more to challenge and prize competition success than getting a solution that solves your problem or meets the criteria. You need to measure success right after your challenge as you work to implement the winning solution. But you also need to measure success over time by keeping in touch with your winners and the other contestants.

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We Love it When a Plan Comes Together…

Federal agencies are currently hard at work developing revised Open Government Plans—blueprints that are published every two years, highlighting agency progress towards making their work more transparent, participatory, and collaborative, and outlining new open government commitments going forward. This iterative, biennial process grew out of the December 2009 Open Government Directive issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which instructed executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to incorporate the principles of openness set forth in the President’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, which he signed on his first full day in office.

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Lights, Camera, Action! 7 Tips to Run a Successful Video Challenge

Not sure how to craft a video challenge that will result in the creative solutions your agency is looking for? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Jason Crusan from NASA and Tammi Marcoullier from Challenge.gov joined a recent DigitalGov University webinar to share best practices and hurdles in running video competitions. We’ve recapped their advice and key takeaways here: Video challenges are a great way to engage the public around a visual story.

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Challenge.gov Named as Top 5 Finalist Harvard Innovation Award

Thanks to the tremendous work of challenge managers across federal government and the support of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, the Challenge.gov program at GSA has been named one of the top 5 finalists in Harvard’s Innovations in American Government Award! We are honored to be among this group, after rigorous competition from all levels of government. Join us in congratulating all the finalists today. And a big pat on the back to the hundreds of champions at 59 agencies who worked on the 300+ public prize competitions to-date.

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Key to Successful Prize Competitions: Define Your Problem Statement

In a prize competition, failing to properly define your problem up front can result in lower participation and submissions that don’t actually solve your issue. To create a challenge that produces viable results, start by doing your own homework. Vaguely defined problems invite less-than-desirable solutions or scare off potential entrants. So use all the data available or even collect new data to pinpoint the crux of the issue. Don’t run a competition for the sake of doing it.

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Thousands of Calls Blocked, Thanks to Contest Winner

Technology to block robocalls is a huge win for consumers and for challenge competitions this year. The FTC awarded a prize to Aaron Foss, creator of Nomorobo, in April. The technology went to market September 30, and the tool has already blocked more than one hundred thousand calls. The FTC did a number of things right in setting up and managing this challenge competition — among them, creating a competition focused on mission and designing the challenge to track measurable results.

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Partnerships Can Add Value to Prize Competitions

The right partner can be the key to a successful challenge competition. If you’re planning a challenge for your agency, you’ve probably had to ask: “Do we have the tools and capabilities to pull off this challenge on our own?” Why we form partnerships Often times, the answer is, “no.” But that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing solutions to your problems. Challenge managers weighed-in on partnerships at a recent community meeting, and here are a few of their tips on how agencies partner for success.

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