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Getting Started

Welcome to, the one-stop-site for federal challenge and prize competitions. This is the place where we crowdsource creative and innovative solutions from the public to solve mission-centric problems in government.

This section is for challenge program managers to learn some basic components of the program and to access the resources available.

For Federal Agencies

If your agency is looking to conduct a challenge competition, we have a wealth of information to help you through the process.

All federal agencies are required to “list” their challenge program on The site is open to the public and is a one-stop collection of all federal competitions. This allows you to link to any site on which you are hosting the crowdsourcing competition. (All links will open in a new tab.) is a no-cost platform on which you can fully host and manage your competition. Details are available through our on-demand training and through the team. View this 30 minute webinar to learn how to use the platform to post or host your competition.

Platform Hosting Features:

Home page promotes: Title, logo, call to action (summary), prize amount, agency, dates.

Agency page (example): With overview, discussion board, list of all agency challenge competitions.

Challenge page (example):

  • Overview, Rules, Dates, How to Submit, Terms and Conditions
  • Prizes (amounts and detailed breakdown)
  • Judges (optional) and Judging Criteria
  • Discussion board
  • Accept submissions (via standard form which emails to challenge manager and team)
  • Public voting (5-star rating, optional)
  • Display solutions (optional)
  • Winner display with summary and links
  • Ability to add logos, video, and other media in multiple areas

The program also provides social media promotion and program amplification of your communications and outreach. is the database for recording and tracking progress with your crowdsourcing initiatives. Data entered into the platform’s non-public view is available for agencies to run reports and do analysis of one or many programs. The database serves as a federal-wide look at the overall program for end-of-year reporting for OSTP’s America COMPETES annual report. (Fiscal Year 2014 COMPETES and 2013 COMPETES reports).

Explore articles, training and resources, including: Getting Started with Challenge & Prize Competitions , Success Stories, and the cache of on-demand training webinars and videos. There is also a Challenge channel on

There are three organizations which work together to manage, promote, support and provide resources for federal crowdsourcing: White House, OSTP, GSA and NASA CoECI.

There is a 600+ person federal government-only community of practice. Through a listserv, in-person quarterly meetings, and monthly webinars, we have peer-to-peer mentoring, collaboration and information sharing for best practices and changes in the programs. To join, type “subscribe” in the subject line and email

About Challenge & Prize Competitions

Also known as incentive competitions, open innovation, crowdsourcing, and more, these program allow a program office to seek unique and creative solutions to mission-centric problems. You’ll need to determine whether the solution you seek is best matched with a prize competition, grant, or traditional contract.

With a contract, you have requirements and outline exactly what you want the company to do and what they will deliver in the end. This means that you are counting on the company to deliver and they will be paid regardless of outcome.

With a challenge competition, you are defining the problem and framing the end-result you seek. Solvers enter the competition and have free reign and creativity to go about getting you the result you’ve described as the best possible outcome. If a solver meets your criteria and is judged a winner, you award them a prize (whether financial, incentive, or a combination) and your contractual relationship is complete. The framework has brought thousands of people with diverse talent and skills to engage and collaborate with government in a way that has a low barrier to entry and often low risk.

Benefits of prize competitions:

  • Pay only for performance
  • Discover new talent
  • Stimulate the market
  • Make the impossible possible
  • Drive collaborative innovation
  • Power ideas into reality

Meet winners and hear about why crowdsourcing works for both seekers and solvers in a three-minute video: Celebrates Five Years.

Planning your challenge competition includes the following components:

  • Problem definition
  • Prize design
  • Legal authority
  • Resource assessment, assignments, and contracting
  • Launch plan
  • Communications and outreach
  • Solver community management
  • Judging
  • Implementation
  • Reporting and metrics

Once you have an idea of what type of competition you’re running, details and resources are available in the following categories:

When you’re ready to begin:

  1. Read “Get Started with Challenge and Prize Competitions,” an overview of policy, resources, concepts, best practices, and more.
  2. Learn how to use the platform in this 9-step process, including a 28-minute video.
  3. Go to and log in using your OMB MAX ID. You can either use your PIN or a PIV card. If you need a MAX login, go to maxportal and apply.

Questions about the process or need help with technology, program strategy, peer contacts, or policy? Email

Quick Facts: Challenges in Government

  • In the September 2009 Strategy for American Innovation, President Obama called on agencies to increase their ability to promote innovation by using tools such as prizes and challenges to solve tough problems.
  • In March 2010, the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Memorandum on the use of challenges/contests and prizes to improve government and encourage innovation. This memo provides a policy and legal framework to guide agencies in using prizes to stimulate innovation to advance their core missions.
  • Since September 2010, more than 100 federal agencies (and 179 congressional offices) have run more than 730 challenge and prize competitions. The use of this tool to drive innovation and collaboration with citizens continues to expand.
  • This platform is available at no cost to all federal agencies to help them list their challenge and prize competitions and learn how to engage the public through this innovative approach.
  • Through this site, the public can find all publicly promoted challenge competitions taking place across the federal government and participate in those programs that are of interest to them.

Keep up with us on social media and we’ll also promote and amplify what your agency is doing here, too:

Twitter @ChallengeGov |

To contact the team for further details, consulting, and training, email