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White House Launches New Web Platform to Boost Citizen Engagement

CIO Vivek Kundra and CTO Aneesh Chopra
CIO Vivek Kundra and CTO Aneesh Chopra

The White House has launched the new Challenge.gov, an online platform provided by the General Services Administration that allows federal agencies to post contests aimed at increasing public involvement with the government.

As part of President Barack Obama’s call for an open government, agencies were called upon to leverage challenges and prizes to spur citizen engagement. This new site allows all agencies to post challenges in one place–for free.

Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra announced the launch at the 2010 Gov 2.0 Summit held yesterday. Speaking alongside federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, Chopra said the site is an example of the administration’s efforts to close the technology gap between the public and private sectors, bring the two together to solve the nation’s problems, and reward innovation.

“We wanted an organizational model to take all the components we describe to engage the American people in problem solving,” he said.

Part of the reason for the technology gap is that the private sector has moved forward with open-architecture Internet models, while the government has remained closed, Chopra said. Challenge.gov is designed for long-term success because of its “grassroots, bottom-up” architecture for inviting public input, he added.

Department of Defense is one of the featured participants, and it has four ongoing challeges on the new site:

  • The U.S. Army’s Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge wants to hear ideas about how best to use virtual reality in any Army purview, focusing on or around artificial intelligence. The winners will receive a portion of the $25,000 cash prize pool and a paid trip to present their entries at the GameTech Conference in Orlando, Fla.
  • The Defense Technical Information Center is soliciting student-written scientific or technical papers to help stimulate DTIC research initiatives in web and mobile computing applications. The authors of the best papers will be invited to present their plans at the 2011 DTIC Conference in Alexandria, Va.
  • The DoD Cyber Crime Center’s Digital Forensics Challenge is looking for individuals to help digital forensic examiners solve real-world challenges and create new investigative tools, techniques, and methodologies.

The Challenge.gov site offers details for responding to challenges, and challenges can be searched by topic or department.

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