Challenge.gov top finalist in innovation award

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The General Services Administration’s website challenge.gov was picked Nov. 26 as a top five finalist for Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government Award.

The prestigious award recognizes government innovation that works to address the nation’s most pressing concerns.

Projects vying for the prize must go through five rounds of cuts. Award evaluators conduct a two-day assessment of each of the top five projects.

Each finalist receives a $10,000 grant and the winner is eligible for a $100,000 grant.

“We are honored to be among this group, after rigorous competition from all levels of government,” Kelly Olson, director of strategic initiatives in GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, wrote on the GSA Blog.

Challenge.gov was launched in September 2010. The website crowdsources solutions with competitions hosted by federal agencies. To best solve a problem, the agencies will post a challenge on the website. Members of the public can then send in their best solutions and the agency will pick a winner, who often receives a cash prize.

Through challenge.gov, agencies and the public have helped stop illegal robocalls and develop 100-mpg vehicles. Agencies have awarded upward of 200 prizes. More than 16,000 solvers have participated, and the website now averages six new challenges a month.

Solvers are also able to share challenges with friends, so they can be discussed and advertised.

“Agencies are increasingly turning to challenge.gov to conduct software and apps challenges, to meet the vision of a more citizen-centric digital environment,” Olson wrote.

The programs are judged for the award by their novelty, effectiveness, significance and transferability.

Other finalists include the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a program based in Boston that uses technology such as smartphones to enhance civic engagement, and the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which works to revitalize the nation’s most distressed neighborhoods.

The innovation awards were created in 1985 and have received more than 27,000 applicants.

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Agencies, Challenge.gov, challenges, Departments, General Services Administration (GSA), Government IT News, Innovation, open government
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