About challenges

What is a challenge?

A government challenge or contest is exactly what the name suggests: it is a challenge by the government to a third party or parties to identify a solution to a particular problem or reward contestants for accomplishing a particular goal. Prizes (monetary or non–monetary) often accompany challenges and contests.

Challenges can range from fairly simple (idea suggestions, creation of logos, videos, digital games and mobile applications) to proofs of concept, designs, or finished products that solve the grand challenges of the 21st century. Find current federal challenges on


Why would the government run a challenge?

Federal agencies can use challenges and prizes to find innovative or cost–effective submissions or improvements to ideas, products and processes. Government can identify the goal without first choosing the approach or team most likely to succeed, and pay only for performance if a winning submission is submitted. Challenges and prizes can tap into innovations from unexpected people and places.

Read more about challenges and prizes in the government

Implementation of Federal Prize Authority: Progress Report on Challenges in the Government from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. March 2012

What is is a site administered by the U.S. General Services administration (GSA) in partnership with ChallengePost. On this site, federal agencies are able to post their challenges and the public can offer innovative submissions to those challenges. To learn more about this site, visit the About page (hyperlink about to the right page)

Why was this site created? makes it easy for federal agencies to launch challenges and for the public to share their submissions and innovations with government. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has done the heavy lifting by making available a free tool to agencies that has passed GSA’s policy reviews for security, privacy, accessibility, and other federal requirements. GSA has tested the platform so it is user friendly for both federal employees posting challenges and for the public supporting challenges and proposing submissions.

The Office of Management & Budget tasked GSA with selecting an online challenge platform to fulfill this pledge as a result of the March 8, 2010 Memorandum on Innovation Challenges and Prizes (PDF format).

Why did GSA choose Challenge Post as the challenge platform?

GSA issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a no cost government challenge platform. Eight organizations responded.

GSA evaluated the offers against the criteria in the RFI and selected ChallengePost. Challenge Post has experience working with government clients, having run New York City’s Big Apps and Apps for Healthy Kids with USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama, among over 100 total challenges. ChallengePost best met the government’s criteria spelled out in the RFI.

Who manages this site?

This site is managed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). In terms of the individual challenges, those are created and moderated by each particular agency. Each particular agency is also responsible for record keeping and should consult with their records officer and Office of General Counsel. Challenges stay on even after they are concluded, but federal agencies should not rely on as the sole record.

The policy of the General Services Administration applies in these areas:

How this site works

Is open to everyone?

Yes, is open to the general public. On this site, the public can show their support for a particular challenge and propose a submission to government challenges. Federal agencies can also create challenges on this site as well as showcase challenges they might be running on other sites. There is no cost for agencies or the public to use this site.

What can you do on

Federal Agencies can:

  • create, post and moderate challenges using the platform
  • showcase challenges being run on other challenge platforms

The public can:

  • find and show support for all government challenges
  • sort challenges by time left to submit, prize amount, and popularity (based on number of supporters)
  • discuss and post potential submissions to challenges agencies create on this platform
  • vote for their preferred submission to a challenge when challenges are open to public voting
  • share challenges with their friends via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail
  • choose to be notified by email and/or RSS for updates on challenges on this platform

How much does it cost to participate on this site?

It is free to use this site.

Who can Post a Challenge?

Only Federal Government employees who have been granted permission by their agencies’ point of contact can post a challenge. Learn about Posting a challenge page

I’m not a Federal Government employee. How can I participate?

This site is open to the public. There are many ways in which you can participate on and have your voice heard. You can support a challenge, discuss a challenge, propose a submission to a challenge, vote for the best submission, and share information about a specific challenge with family and friends. Learn more about how you can help improve government through


What is your Privacy Policy?

Learn more about our Privacy Policy

What is your Accessibility Policy?

Learn more about our Accessibility Policy

What are your Terms of Participation?

Learn more about our Terms of Participation


What Challenges can be created or featured on

Only Federal Government Challenges can be created or featured on A Challenge is eligible if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. An agency in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is the sole or primary sponsor of the Challenge

    For example, NASA is the sole sponsor of the Simple Microgravity Laundry System Challenge.

  2. An agency in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is an official partner or co-sponsor to the challenge

    For example, the Department of Energy was an official partner to the Progressive Automotive X Prize, despite not being the primary sponsor, funder, or implementer. Similarly, the Department of Veterans Affairs is a partner to the West Wireless Health Institute in launching the Veterans Health Wireless Innovation Challenge.

    Note: defers to each agency to determine the criteria and clearance required to be an official partner or co-sponsor to the Challenge. For administrator purposes, it is sufficient to see an agency mentioned as a partner to the challenge in the public materials.

  3. An agency in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government solely or partially funded the challenge, which is now being sponsored by the recipient of those funds

    For example, the SMART Apps for Health challenge is funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology through its Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP).

    In addition, the challenge may be eligible if it was announced by the President, Vice President, First Lady, Second Lady, or head of an agency in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

    Finally, challenges are only eligible to be created or featured on if they are in fact a prize competition, as opposed to a grant, procurement, or other mechanism. is not the appropriate place to cross-post exciting activities from or A challenge should have a specific problem statement, a deadline, and a prize (monetary or non-monetary) awarded for results.