GSA eyes free, Web-based platform for agency contests, prizes

Agency wants solution available by July

The General Services Administration wants information on Web-based platforms that agencies could use at no cost to host challenges and prizes that promote open government, innovation and other national priorities.

GSA wants to learn about solutions for making a Web-based platform available by July 6 for agencies to create, launch and administer contests and challenges, according to a recent request for information published on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. In March, the Office of Management and Budget issued a policy memo that encouraged agencies to make use of challenges and that said the Obama administration would make Web-based platform for the challenges available within 120 days.

Agencies should use challenges “as tools for advancing open government, innovation, and agencies’ missions,” wrote Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, in that memo.


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 White House memo: Public contests can drive innovation


The White House directed agencies to select one or more individuals to identify and carry out contests, often referred to as challenges. The memo also asked agencies to deal with legal, regulatory, technical, and other barriers to the use of challenges and associated prizes.

Now, GSA wants information on potential platforms that would be free and that wouldn’t lock GSA or other agencies into one provider. GSA said ideally the platform would allow:

Agencies to easily and quickly create, launch, and administer challenges.

  • The government to launch challenges with URLs that can be easily discovered by the public
  • Solutions to be easily proposed by contestants and challenges to be easily posted by the government
  • People to see, discuss, refine, and evaluate solutions
  • The public to view challenges, solutions, discussions, and winners without registering or having to submit and participate in the challenge
  • The flexibility to handle a variety of types and sizes of contests, with different rules and different solver communities
  • The ability to post challenges that could result in monetary, non-monetary, or no prizes being awarded
  • Agency-specific challenges, as well as multi-agency challenges
  • Multiple and concurrent challenges
  • The technical capability for shutdown of challenges to capture results even after the submission and judging period is over and
  • The exporting of entries, comments and ratings in an open format.

 Responses to the RFI are due April 15.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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