Early in his administration, President Obama vowed to open up government with more interactive online initiatives like Recovery.gov. Though some called his early efforts a “significant failure,” Obama has pressed on with attempts to create transparency, including a memo earlier this year calling on government agencies to use challenges and prizes to promote open government. Today, the U.S. General Services Administration announced it has picked ChallengePost as its official platform to fulfill that need.
ChallengePost is a online marketplace for challenges that lets people donate money and offer solutions to various problems. The company has a strong group of VCs and angels providing support, including Jason Calacanis, Steve Wozniak, Betaworks and Rose Tech Ventures. ChallengePost has been used to run large-scale competitions, such as the NYC BigApps challenge, which offered developers a prize for creating the most innovative apps leveraging New York’s government data.
First Lady Michelle Obama, a leading advocate for eliminating the problem of childhood obesity, launched the Apps for Healthy Kids challenge earlier this year on the ChallengePost platform. Her challenge offers “$60,000 in prizes to create innovative, fun and engaging software tools and games that encourage children directly or through their parents to make more nutritious food choices and be more physically active.”
With this new government contract, ChallengePost will be the official platform on which challenges from government agencies like these are built. These open, crowd-sourced challenges are valuable because they inspire innovation and creativity focused around a specific problem in the public interest. Whether it’s helping kids discover healthy eating habits, or creating apps that help the public better access government data, ChallengePost and the U.S. government will be hosting a number of challenges in the coming years.
“We’re extremely excited to be working closely with the government, and to use challenges to help solve problems, generate ideas, and increase innovation,” said ChallengePost CEO, Brandon Kessler.
Full government integration of the platform will begin in July as agencies will then be able to post problems and invite the public to vote, pledge money and judge solutions. It’s great to see the government making strong attempts to offer a more open and transparent system to the public, and with ChallenePost’s help we may soon be seeing some innovative applications that leverage government resources.