In this phase you’ll begin to think through the problem you’re trying to solve, estimate the necessary resources and consider partnerships within and outside government. This will help identify goals and desired outcomes and determine if a challenge is the appropriate tool for achieving results.
Since its creation in 2010, Challenge.gov has grown to serve more than 100 agencies. These agencies have run nearly 1,000 challenges and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in prizes and additional non-monetary incentives. More than 5 million people have visited Challenge.gov, with 250,000 of them signing up to participate in a challenge. In this step you’ll learn the benefits of challenges, as well as the basics on legal authorities, federal policies and White House guidance.
Challenges have been used to achieve a broad range of goals and outcomes. But a single challenge can’t accomplish everything. While working through this step, you’ll prioritize goals and desired outcomes over others. This will influence how you design your challenge design and the process you use later to evaluate the effectiveness of your project.
Developing a detailed understanding of your problem is critical to the overall success of any challenge. The problem definition you develop during this step will serve as the initial framework for your challenge. Be sure to include collaborators, partners and other stakeholders in this process.
A challenge is one way an agency can incentivize innovators to take risks and invest resources to solve a problem. In this step you’ll weigh the advantages of running a challenge against more traditional approaches—such as contracts or grants—to determine if it’s the right approach.
A successful challenge requires collaboration among an interdisciplinary team that includes subject matter experts and others will skills in project management, communications, the law, prize design, procurement and budgets. In this step you’ll begin identifying and assembling your team members and other stakeholders necessary for your challenge.
The legal authority under which you conduct your challenge will affect its design. But remember, the goals of your challenge also can affect your choice of legal authority. In this step you need to carefully consider both the goals of your challenge and your agency’s preferences when establishing which legal authority to use.
In this early stage of challenge development, you need to estimate the resources needed for your project—including budget and staff—to gain support for the challenge concept within your agency.
Someone somewhere probably will have to grant approval for you to run a challenge. Most likely, that someone will be in your agency’s leadership. It helps to think in terms of a business case you can present to obtain approval.