Using Competitions and Awards to Spur Innovation Using Competitions and Awards to Spur Innovation

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 - 12:58
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Over the past three years, the Obama administration has been encouraging federal agencies to engage citizens in solving public problems by increasing the use of electronic participation platforms.

The America COMPETES Act — adopted in 2010—provides statutory support for conducting public contests and providing awards to winners. The Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum in March 2010 on agencies’ use of challenges and prizes to provide agencies with more guidance on how to conduct such initiatives.

One of the most prominent approaches to engaging citizens has been the creation of the government-wide website, Launched in September 2010, the website presents information on 199 competitions held from its creation until August 2012, when this report went to press. This cross-agency site is a one-stop platform that includes all the contests sponsored by federal agencies and their partners. These competitions range from those with large prizes and ambitious goals, such as the development of autonomously operated vehicles for the Defense Department, to those with smaller prizes targeted to smaller challenges such as the creation of an app to track the arrival status of local buses.

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