The U.S. government recently held Collaborative Innovation: Public Sector Prizes, a one-day forum in which public-sector employees, as well as representatives from the private and nonprofit sectors, discussed high-impact incentive prizes and challenges and best practices.
The forum is part of the White House's Grand Challenges program, which recently hired the X Prize Foundation's Cristin Dorgelo to be assistant director. Dorgelo says incentive prizes are one tool in a federal agency's cache for getting outside thinking, new ideas, and solutions for long-standing problems into federal agencies.
She notes that although some agencies have had long-standing authority to conduct prizes, the passage of the America COMPETES Act extended that to all federal agencies, giving broad authority to conduct prizes up to $50 million, as well as conduct them in partnerships with nonprofits and private corporations. For example, Dorgelo says the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently launched a $500,000 competition on TopCoder to create a replacement for Medicare and Medicaid provider-screening software. "If that's successful in replacing the current screening software, it's going to be a really interesting approach to government IT sourcing," she says. "These types of incentives show it doesn't necessarily have to be a $10 million purse to create big impact."
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