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How It Works

You Are the Key Ingredient! works when you tell people you care about an issue or participate in a challenge. The government posts challenges. Citizens share with their friends. Talented people find solutions to the problems.

With a challenge competition, a “seeker” poses a problem or question to the public and “solvers” respond and submit solutions. An agency pays only for those solutions that meet the criteria and are chosen as winners.

Solver / Citizen

Public participation is simple. Start by searching or sorting through the hundreds of challenges for topics that pique your curiosity. When you’re ready to submit, create your account :

  1. Click “login” and select “register.”
  2. Create a username and password of your choice.
  3. Provide an email address to help us verify your account.
  4. Check your email for an alert from to verify your account and complete the process.
  5. Now, you’re ready to submit!

Along the way, you can build and share your solver profile with others. If you share your skills and interests, we will alert you when matching challenges are posted.

From the main page, you can sort by type of challenge, prize amount, and by the agency hosting the competition. Competitions are listed in chronological order, from most recently launched to older, closed competitions going back to 2010. The search bar might also help you find previous events and topics.

Ready to submit? For challenges hosted on the website, click “submit solutions” to provide your entry. Note: Some competitions simply are listed here, but hosted on third-party, non-government sites, and that’s OK. Clicking the link to the challenge competition will take you directly to the host website.

Pay Attention to the Rules for Submitting Solutions

Please read all the rules and requirements for the challenge competition, each is unique. Double-check deadline for submissions — including date, time and time zone — to get your entry in on time. A few pointers:

  • Each challenge hosted on features a discussion board where you may post questions to challenge managers about that specific competition.
  • We advise that you register a day ahead of the competition deadline.
  • You may upload Word, PDF, and other types of documents.
  • Video submissions must be provided via link to a third-party platform that the challenge managers can view. The platform does not accept video and audio uploads.


Seeker / Agency

At a minimum, all agencies are strongly encouraged to list competitions on, even those that are hosted on third-party sites. Agencies may also use the platform at no cost to host their problem-solving events and to facilitate registration for hackathons, datathons and other crowdsourcing activities.

Who’s crowdsourcing? More than 100 agencies have engaged in competitions such as the Department of Energy, Federal Trade Commission, NASA, Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. Mint, Department of Labor, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of the Interior, and many more!

View this 30-minute webinar to learn how to use the platform to post your competition, and email the team to create your account: