In the tech world, weekends spent at “Hackathons” or “Mobile App Challenges” are becoming more and more common. And the public sector is starting to catch on. These challenges are exciting becuase lots of real work gets done in a short amount of time. Xavier Hughes, the Chief Innovation Officer with the Department of Labor, helped run a Mobile Apps Challenge and participated in a webinar about it (with Howto.gov). The webinar goes over the challenge process, roadblocks, and mistakes to avoid.
In these shorter contests, teams are usually given free creative reign. If your agency doles out the datasets and overall mission, the teams divvy up and use the data to develop new apps. Action teams composed of subject matter experts to answer Q’s during the challenge help teams develop the best product. What motivates the teams could be capitol, but it also could be pride and/or civil service. You can check out the winners of the DOL’s contest at challenge.gov.
Challenge.gov has a list of challenges with longer deadlines. If you are a designer or developer interested in contributing, take a look. Even if you have zero app creating experience, it is interesting to see what is needed.
With the Digital Government Strategy’s imposed API development on agencies, has yours thought about releasing datasets and hosting a challenge?
Would this model of engagement work in other areas of gov besides software development?
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