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Celebrating the Five-Year Anniversary of with More Than 20 New Prizes

Today and tomorrow, the Administration is helping organize two events to celebrate the use of prizes and challenges for societal benefit.

On his first day in office, President Obama said “Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector.”

True to the spirit of the President’s charge from his first day in office, Federal agencies have collaborated with more than 200,000 members of the public through more than 440 challenges on topics ranging from accelerating the deployment of solar energy, to combating breast cancer, to increasing resilience after Hurricane Sandy. (To read some specific Federal prize and challenge success stories, click here.)  Agencies have been increasing their use of prizes and challenges because they allow the government to pay only for results and increase the number and diversity of “solvers” working on important problems.

Today, the Administration is marking a milestone in our Nation’s history of using incentive prizes and challenges to drive competition and spark innovation: the five-year anniversary of  This online platform that makes it easy for members of the public to find and participate in Federally supported challenges to address some of our most pressing local, national, and global issues.

In addition, highlighting continued momentum from the President’s call to harness the ingenuity of the American people, the Administration is announcing:

  • Nine new challenges from Federal agencies, ranging from commercializing NASA technology, to helping students navigate their education and career options, to protecting marine habitats; and
  • Expanded support for use of challenges and prizes at Federal agencies, including new mentoring support from the General Services Administration (GSA) for interested agencies, and a new $244 million innovation platform launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with over 70 partners.

Also, a growing community of foundations, non-profits, industry, and others are responding to the Administration’s all-hands-on-deck call to tackle the grand challenges of the 21st century with new prize efforts. Today, multiple non-governmental institutions are announcing a total of 14 new challenges, ranging from improving cancer screenings, to increasing the resilience of island communities, to developing better technologies to detect, remove, and recover excess nitrogen and phosphorus from water. Several of these incentive prizes are being conducted in partnership with the U.S. Federal government, a sign of the growing use of public-private partnerships to address high-impact challenges.

To mark the milestone anniversary of and highlight these new announcements, the Administration is hosting an event today with the Case Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and Georgetown University. You can tune in to the live stream of the event today, October 7, from 9:30AM–12:00PM ET here and participate by sending in your thoughts, comments, and questions to @ChallengeGOV using the hashtag #PublicPrizes.

In addition, tomorrow, the GSA will host a community of more than 300 prize practitioners to celebrate the great accomplishments of public-sector prizes at a special five-year anniversary event for This event will celebrate’s progress and impact on government, spotlight past challenge winners and their success, and honor federal recipients of the first-ever Five Years of Excellence in Federal Challenge & Prize Competition Awards. You can register here for information about the livestream of the October 8 event, which will run tomorrow, October 8, from 2:00PM-5:30PM ET.

And we hope that leading up to, during, and after these events, you’ll also follow @ChallengeGOV and tweet using the hashtag #PublicPrizes to share your questions and ideas, and to recognize prize and challenge solvers that you know.

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

Dave Wilkinson is Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. 

Jenn Gustetic is Assistant Director for Open Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

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