Can we get better government through game mechanics? We are about to find out. Today, ChallengePost was named the official online “challenge platform” of the U.S. federal government. Any government agency that wants to run a challenge to get ideas from citizens can use ChallengePost as a way to gather ideas and even offer cash prizes for the best ideas.
ChallengePost ran the NYC Big Apps contest and Michelle Obama’s Apps for Healthy Kids challenge. Many of these challenges revolve around tapping into government data in creative ways or creating software with some sort of civic benefit.
ChallengePost will be creating a new central hub for government agency challenges. It will launch in July. Putting all the challenges in one place will make them easier to find. However, agencies are not required to use ChallengePost. They can use other platforms, if they prefer. For instance, NASA uses InnoCentive because a lot of scientists and engineers hang out there. But ChallengePost is the official one that has been vetted and approved. The government challenges will also appear on ChallengePost.com.
It is not every day that a startup lands the federal government as a customer, but this is one of those “no-cost” contracts. “The platform is completely free,” says Bev Godwin, Director of the Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement at the U.S. General Services Administration. In other words, ChallengePost won’t be making a dime off it directly.
But it is a great promotional reference for ChallengePost, and the company can charge for extra services, such as consulting around how to define a challenge “There will be additional services that have a price,” confirms CEO Brandon Kessler. He won’t go into details of what those services will be, however, nor what he plans to charge taxpayers for them. Ah, transparent government in action!