In this phase you will begin to think through the problem you’re trying to solve, estimate the necessary resources and partnerships and determine if a challenge is the appropriate tool for addressing your goals. This process will help you identify the goals and desired outcomes of your efforts and lead you to the most impactful result.
Challenge.gov has grown to serve 93 agencies that have run 667 competitions since 2010, offering more than $220 million in prizes and additional non-monetary incentives. It has attracted more than 4.5 million site visitors and a quarter of a million solvers. In this step, you will learn about the benefits of challenges as well as the basics about legal authorities, federal policies and OMB guidance.
Challenges have been used to achieve a broad range of goals and produce numerous outcomes. However, a single challenge can’t accomplish everything. While working through this step, the prioritization of goals and desired outcomes over others will heavily influence your prize design and the process you later use 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 inclusive and involve collaborators, partners and other stakeholders in the problem definition phase.
A prize competition is one of many ways agencies can incentivize innovators to take risks and invest resources to solve a problem. In this step you will weigh the advantages of prizes against more traditional approaches, such as contracts or grants, to determine if a prize competition is right for you.
Successful challenges require 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 will begin identifying and assembling your team members and other stakeholders necessary for a successful challenge.
The choice of legal authority under which to conduct your challenge will have an impact on its design. But keep in mind, the goals of your challenge can also affect your choice of legal authority. In this step it is vital to carefully consider both the goals of your challenge and your agency’s preferences when establishing your source of legal authority.
In this early stage of challenge development, it is important to estimate the resource needs of your project—including both budget and staff—in order to secure buy-in for the prize concept within your agency.
Whether it’s agency leadership or someone else, more likely than not you’ll have to get approval from someone to run your challenge. It may help to think in terms of a business case you could present to leadership to secure their buy-in.