Can Challenge.Gov Empower A Nation?

On September 7, 2010, US Federal CIO Vivek Kundra (Office of Management and Budget) joined with Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra (Federal Office of Science and Technology Policy) and Bev Godwin (Director, Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement, U.S. General Services Administration) to announce the launch of Challenge.gov at the Gov2.0 Summit.

By launching Challenge.gov, the Federal Government is taking another step toward empowering citizens to help solve challenges large and small. “This engages the American people to be co-creators to solve some of the toughest problems America faces,” suggested Kundra. That sentiment may be somewhat aspirational — I leave it to you to decide if the challenges on Challenge.gov address the toughest problems faced by the US government today. As yet, there are no challenges similar to the one run recently in the UK seeking ways to cut spending. Regardless, there are some very interesting challenges out there, from developing healthy school recipes to creating a video on distracted driving, and some even have big prizes, such as the Progressive Automotive X-Prize.

With Challenge.gov in place, federal CIOs no longer need to develop a platform to support challenges — they can host them right on Challenge.gov. Over time, we can expect more and more departments to test the waters using the platform, taking baby steps toward broad social engagement.

The launch of Challenge.gov highlights the important role CIOs have in supporting and empowering innovation within their organizations. Not only can technology platforms help generate ideas to solve problems, they can also be used to empower people outside of the organization to become part of the solution.