Challenge.gov, created by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and ChallengePost, is an online platform that brings pressing federal challenges to the public. Designed to source innovative solutions or improvements to existing ideas, products and processes, Challenge.gov is an easy means for federal agencies to launch challenges for public participation and collaboration.
While only federal agencies can post a challenge, the site is free and open to the public who are encouraged to support, discuss, and propose a submission to a challenge. Participants are also able to vote on submissions, and share information about challenges online.
The GSA has defined a challenge as “any problem in search of a creative or innovative solution”. The types of Challenges submitted vary considerably, ranging from suggestions, logo creation, video, game and mobile application production to proof of concept, project design, or complete products. Often prizes, both monetary and non-monetary, will be given for the best submission. It is through this structure of challenges and prizes that the government is looking to engage the public for innovative and competitive solutions for the key problems of the 21st century.
Some of the many participating federal agencies include:
- U.S. Air force
- U.S. Army
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Department of Energy
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Challenge.gov is another great example of the collaboration innovation in open government that the Obama Administration is pioneering. When Thomas Jefferson discussed a participatory democracy where governments and citizens collaborate to solve major problems, did he envision crowd sourcing and contests? Maybe not, but I think he would have approved.