In March, Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients released a memo that “highlights for agencies policy and legal issues related to the implementation of the Obama Administration“™s commitment to increase the use of prizes and challenges as tools for promoting open government, innovation, and other national priorities.”
On Friday, the White House held a summit that focused on using prizes, challenges and other open competitions to advance the priorities outlined by CPO Zients. At the summit, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra commented on his experience launching Apps for Democracy, an experiment in new procurement processes with an emphasis on public engagement.
From the White House blog, “Traditionally there have only been two mechanisms, contracts or grants, to drive and unearth innovation from the public sector. Apps for Democracy was an experiment showing that we could find a third way to solving public sector problems ““ through prizes and challenges.”
In only 30 days, Apps for Democracy received over 40 applications, much faster than the government could have processed 40 bids, and the process also saved $3.6 million in administrative and development costs.
Commenting on the SAVE award, CIO Kundra said “We didn“™t issue a challenge of $1 million, the prize was rather a meeting with the President which generated enormous response. We also want to make sure we have appropriate rules and regulations in place so that we are being good stewards of tax payer dollars.” He emphasized that a platform developed through these types of processes doesn’t have to be “a sophisticated enterprise wide solution, it can be one that is something more lightweight and is a platform that best serves an agency“™s mission.”
CIO Kundra closed the interview by reiterating that the hope is to embed prize and challenge-driven processes in government culture in order to push action beyond past the traditional procurement process to foster a more participatory and open democracy.