GSA’s Challenge.gov Earns Harvard Innovation Award

Contact: Doug Gavel
Phone: (617) 495-1115
Date: January 23, 2014

Cambridge, Mass., – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University today announced the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Challenge.gov as a winner of the 2013 Innovations in American Government Award from a pool of more than 600 applicants.

GSA launched Challenge.gov in July 2010 in response to an Obama Administration memo tasking the agency with building a platform that allowed entrepreneurs, innovators, and the public to compete for prestige and prizes by providing the government with novel solutions to tough problems. Challenge.gov was developed in partnership with New York City-based ChallengePost, the leading platform for software competitions and hackathons. Since its launch, Challenge.gov has been used by 59 federal agencies to crowd source solutions and has received 3.5 million visits from 220 countries and territories and more than 11,000 U.S. cities. Challenge.gov has conducted nearly 300 scientific, engineering, design, multimedia, ideation, and software challenges, resulting in unprecedented public-private partnerships.
“Challenge.gov demonstrates the power of collaborative problem solving in the public sector,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard Kennedy School. “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.”

“It is an honor for GSA to be named an Ash Center Innovations in American Government Award recipient,” said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini. “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.”

Examples of Challenge.gov competitions include a Robocall Challenge that has blocked 84,000 computer driven advertising phone calls so far, a Disability Employment Apps Challenge that sought innovative technology tools to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities, and the Blue Button for All Americans Contest that helps veterans have access to their health information.

Established in 1985 at Harvard University by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Award Program has honored nearly 200 federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies. The Innovations Award Program provides concrete evidence that government can work to improve the quality of life of citizens. Many award-winning programs have been replicated across jurisdictions and policy areas, and some have served as harbingers of today’s reform strategies or as forerunners to state and federal legislation. By highlighting exemplary models of government’s innovative programs for more than 20 years, the Innovations Award Program drives continued progress and encourages research and teaching cases at Harvard University and other academic institutions worldwide. Nominations for the next Innovations in American Government Awards competition may be submitted at www.innovationsaward.harvard.edu.

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education, and public discussion. Three major programs support our mission: the Program on Democratic Governance; the Innovations in Government Program; and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia. For more information, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.

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