Challenge.gov, the General Services Administration’s three-year-old website that solicits solutions to agency problems from the general public, is the winner of the 2013 Innovations in American Government Award. The website which so far has been used by 59 agencies and received 3.5 million visits from 220 countries, was picked from 600 applicants for the prestigious award from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
“Challenge.gov demonstrates the power of collaborative problem solving in the public sector,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program. “By inviting innovative solutions from outside of government, and then ably incorporating them to improve results, challenge.gov enables agencies to solve public problems in a more effective manner.”
GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said his agency is honored by the award. “Challenge.gov is a powerful, yet practical, example that any jurisdiction or level of government can follow to enable its agencies to tap into the collective wisdom of completely new and creative audiences of problems-solvers, driving innovation within and beyond government,” he added.
Challenge.gov was developed in partnership with New York City-based ChallengePost, the leading platform for software competitions and “hackathons,” the Ash Center reported. It has fomented public-private partnerships to address almost 300 scientific, engineering, design, multimedia, ideation, and software challenges. Among the resulting projects are a tool that blocks computer-driven “robocall” advertising calls, an app to improve employment opportunities for the disabled, and a website button that allows veterans to download their health records.
Among the finalists for this year’s prize was a multi-agency neighborhood revitalization program run by the departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Treasury.
Sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Award Program has bestowed awards since 1985 on some 200 federal, state and local agencies. The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation is named for the late businessman and director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Nixon administration.