Zients Releases Contest Guidelines

Zients/WhiteHouseThe White House released a memo on Monday on how agencies can legally arrange contests in order to engage citizens to find new ideas on how to use technology to improve open government. The memo was from Jeffrey Zients, the Deputy Director for Management, in the Office of Management and Budget.

Zients stated, “This memorandum highlights for agencies policy and legal issues related to the implementation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to increase the use of prizes and challenges as tools for promoting open government, innovation, and other national priorities.”

The memo included potential benefits of prizes, such as “stimulate private sector investment that is many times greater than the cash value of the prize.” It also included a section on the use of prizes and challenges and a section dedicated to the pre-prize and post-prize stages.

The Obama administration is hoping to launch an online forum in the next four months. This forum would be a place to seek solutions to the legal barriers agencies might be encountering.

The next due date for agencies in the Open Government Directive requires agencies to develop and publish an open government plan. Part of this plan is to consult the American public in their efforts and explain how it will “improve transparency and integrate public participation and collaboration into its activities,” so the memo released on Monday comes at an opportune time.

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