Late last week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 with a provision that could further empower public sector use of prizes and challenges to spur innovation. The Prize Competitions section of the Committee bill would provide Federal Agencies across the Executive Branch with explicit authority to conduct prize competitions. The prize authority provision draws heavily from S. 3530, the Reward Innovation in America Act of 2010, introduced by Senators Pryor and Warner in June.
Yesterday, the President’s science and technology advisor Dr. John P. Holdren expressed his gratitude for the Senate’s leadership:
The Honorable Mark Pryor The Honorable Mark Warner
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators Pryor and Warner:
Congratulations on incorporating the goals of your bill, S. 3530, the "Reward Innovation in America Act", into S. 3605, the "America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010", as approved last week by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
The Obama Administration recognizes the promise of prize competitions to spur innovation. In September 2009, the President announced his Strategy for American Innovation. He called on agencies to increase their ability to promote and harness innovation by using tools such as prizes and challenges to solve tough problems. In March 2010, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum to all agency heads affirming the Administration’s commitment and providing a policy and legal framework to guide agencies in using prizes to stimulate innovation to advance their core missions. In April 2010, the White House and the Case Foundation convened some of the world’s top experts in prize competitions to share private-sector success stories with nearly 200 policymakers from more than 35 agencies across the Executive Branch.
Section 106 of the Committee bill would empower agencies across the Executive Branch to stimulate innovation by bringing the best ideas and top talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing problems. We look forward to working with you on the details of this proposal and to ensuring that prize authority remains in the final bill.
Thank you for your leadership on this important issue and for your continued commitment to enabling and promoting innovation.
John P. Holdren
Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Robynn Sturm is Advisor for Open Innovation to the Deputy Director