Welcome to the Challenge and Prize Toolkit!
This site is a resource for federal government employees who are interested in learning more about incentive prizes and challenges. Whether you’re new to prizes and challenges or a veteran challenge manager, you’ll find the information here to be valuable. This toolkit is intended to be a knowledge repository that includes case studies of successful challenges, best practices for running challenges of all kinds and even ways to contact experts in different phases of the challenge process.
This toolkit is a part of Challenge.gov, which is run by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), where you can find every challenge, active and completed, that’s been run by the federal government. The Challenge.gov team also manages the upkeep of this site, which is intended to be a living document. The Challenge and Prize Toolkit joins the Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit, launched in February 2016, as open innovation resources designed to help you engage the public. Public participation in crowdsourcing and citizen science can enhance scientific research, address societal needs and spark science learning and literacy.
The Challenge and Prize Toolkit was developed by an interagency team using insights drawn from challenge experts across the federal government. There are three main sections, Challenge Phases, Challenge Types, and Case Studies, any of which you can use as a starting point for learning about challenges. You will find additional sections listing Mentors who can help you refine your challenges, and Resources like development tools, templates and examples.
Challenge Phases breaks down the execution process into five sequential stages: Prepare, Develop, Conduct, Award, and Transition. This is a step-by-step guide to everything you have to do as a challenge manager to deliver a successful challenge, from Get to Know Challenges to Share Best Practices and Results. If you’re unsure of exactly what the end-to-end challenge process entails, this is where to start.
Every challenge goes through the five phases in the order they’re presented here; each phase is composed of three to eight substeps that do not necessarily need to be completed in the order presented. The substeps contain several sections—in the main column you will find a description of the substep, and below it expandable Key Takeaways that answer common questions or detail best practices. In the column to the right are links to the other substeps within the phase.
Below those links are resources recommended by the challenge community. These take many forms—video tutorials, downloadable templates, examples of documents and slide deck pitches among them—that will help you at every step in the process.
The Project Timeline lists all the phases and their substeps in one convenient place and allows you to mark each step as completed as you progress through your challenge.
Challenge Types identifies the seven types of challenges you can run: Ideas, Design, Software, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Scientific, and Analytics. These types are broadly defined as the types of activities or outcomes that will be worked on or produced in your challenge. Your challenge may fit into two or more of these categories, or it may not fit perfectly into any of them—that’s ok! If you have a challenge idea and want to learn more about type-specific considerations, this is a good place to start. These seven Challenge Types were developed with extensive feedback from the Federal community of practice. The 2009 “And The Winner Is…” report from McKinsey & Company as well as the 2014 “The Craft of Incentive Prize Design” report from Deloitte University Press also offer widely used taxonomies of prize types that are often referenced in prize design and evaluation.
Like the substep pages, each of these contains key takeaways and best practices unique to that type of challenge. The best examples of the challenge types have been highlighted in the Case Studies section—see below for more information.