Challenge.gov seeks to expand public's engagement

Web portal designed to increase transparency of government operations

White House and General Services Administration officials today launched a new Web site for agencies to post contests to engage people with the government.

As part of President Barack Obama's plan to increase government openness and transparency, agencies are to use challenges and prizes to increase the public's engagement. The new site, Challenge.gov, is intended to make it easy for agencies to do that.

"This is a fundamental shift in power," Vivek Kundra, federal chief information officer, said at the Gov 2.0 Summit conference announcing Challenge.gov, along with Aneesh Chopra, White House chief technology officer. "This engages the American people to be co-creators to solve some of the toughest problems America faces," Kundra said.

The site debuted with 36 challenges from 16 agencies, including a contest sponsored by first lady Michelle Obama to identify recipes for healthy school lunches for children.

"This is about bringing problem-solving communities together. Is not that what government as a platform really means?" asked Bev Godwin, GSA's director of new media and citizen engagement, also speaking at the Gov 2.0 Summit.


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She said GSA led the Challenge.gov development and took care of the procurement, privacy, security, accessibility and usability issues to make it easier for federal agencies to sponsor contests and challenges.

"When you use Challenge.gov, you will say something you don't often hear in government: 'That was easy.' " Godwin said.

Dave McClure, GSA's associate administrator for citizen services and innovative technologies, said GSA "has built upon the successes agencies have already had in using challenges and provided a platform that offers even more uniformity and consistency in how the public engages with their government."

ChallengePost, a small business based in New York, served as GSA's partner in creating the technology and design for the site. Through an effort involving the Office of Management and Budget and the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, GSA cleared the legal and policy requirements to enable agencies to use the site at no cost.

Seven of the 36 challenges are appearing for the first time on the new Web site, according to GSA. The others were already underway, but will now be accessible through Challenge.gov.

 

About the Authors

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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