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Governmentwide Challenge Platform

Solicitation Number: ACMD-01
Agency: General Services Administration
Office: Office of the Chief Acquisition Officer (V)
Location: GSA Headquarters Contracting Division (VC)
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Special Notice
Added: Apr 08, 2010 3:37 pm


Request for Information to Provide Governmentwide Challenge Platform




Request for Information (RFI) to provide no-cost Governmentwide web-based challenge and contest platform




The General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services (OCS) invites interested parties to submit a written response to the attached RFI. The RFI's intent is to obtain information and tools from industry that will assist OCSC in its efforts to provide a governmentwide web-based challenge platform




The General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services provides citizens, businesses, other governments and the media with a way to easily obtain information and services from the federal government. OCS makes information and services available on the web, through e-mail and web chat, in print, and over the telephone.  OCS also assists other federal agencies as they serve citizens in support of their missions.


OCS's Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement fosters government expertise and leadership in innovation and emerging technologies in order to make it easier and more desirable for citizens to engage with government and government to engage with citizens.


On March 8, 2010, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey D. Zients issued a MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES M-10-11 Guidance on the Use of Challenges and Prizes to Promote Open Government ( This memorandum highlights for agencies policy and legal issues related to the implementation of the Obama Administration's commitment to increase the use of prizes and challenges as tools for promoting open government, innovation, and other national priorities.  Among other things, the OMB memorandum states:


 "To support agencies in the execution of prizes that further the policy objectives of the Federal Government, the Administration will make available a web-based platform for prizes and challenges within 120 days. This platform will provide a forum for agencies to post problems and invite communities of problem solvers to suggest, collaborate on, and deliver solutions. Over the longer term, the General Services Administration (GSA) will also provide government-wide services to share best practices and assist agencies in developing guidelines for issuing challenges. Additionally, GSA will develop, as expeditiously as possible, a contract vehicle to provide agency access to relevant products and services, including technical assistance in structuring and conducting contests to take maximum benefit of the marketplace as they identify and pursue contest initiatives to further the policy objectives of the Federal Government."


This Request for Information seeks information on solutions for making available a web-based platform that enables agencies to create, launch, and administer contests and challenges, to be brought online by July 6, 2010.  The platform being sought will be used by GSA, and offered by GSA to other federal agencies in order to launch their own contests and challenges. More than one provider, after reading the OMB memorandum, has alerted GSA to a no-cost solution to providing a web-based platform for government challenges. However, the purpose of this RFI is to ask for expressions of interest from across the entire community of interested parties.  This RFI seeks information from any provider that wishes to offer a no-cost solution for a governmentwide challenge platform, to be available for use no later than July 6, 2010.  Over the longer term, as GSA seeks contract vehicle(s) to provide agencies access to relevant products and services, GSA may publish additional requests for information and/or requests for proposals for fee-based products and services.



For purposes of this RFI, GSA seeks a no-cost contract or unconditional gift. The no-cost solution must not be tied to required, ancillary fee-based products or services. That is, GSA and other agencies must be able to use the product at a maximum level of technical functionality without being required to purchase ancillary services and products from the offerer, although the offerer may offer support for configuration, setup and other initial tasks, also at no cost.  The no-cost solution must not lock GSA or other agencies into one provider, and should be able to be discontinued at any time by any agency without imposing legal or financial commitments upon it.  GSA cannot accept a no-cost solution if the provider's intent is to provide the solution for no-cost now, and then begin charging GSA at a later date for what is being offered.




Ideally, GSA is looking for no-cost solutions that will provide the following capabilities:


•·         Federal agencies will be able to easily and quickly create, launch, and administer challenges.

•·         The government will be able to launch challenges with unique, customized URLs that can be easily discovered by members of the public.

•·         Potential solvers will be able to easily propose solutions to challenges posted by the government, and government will be able to clearly communicate what types of solutions are sought.

•·         Potential solvers will be able to see, discuss, refine, and evaluate solutions proposed by others.

•·         The platform will allow the broader public to view the challenges, innovative solutions, discussions, and winners without registration and without having to submit and participate in the challenge.

•·         The solution allows flexibility to handle a variety of types and sizes of challenges/contests, with different rules and different solver communities in accordance with differing agency needs.

•·         The solution allows flexibility to post challenges that may result in monetary, non-monetary, or no prizes, and to easily make the type of prize immediately visible to potential solvers.

•·         The platform supports agency-specific challenges but also allows two or more agencies to partner in launching and running challenges.

•·         The solution supports multiple and concurrent challenges, including multiple concurrent challenges by a single agency or group of agencies.

•·         The solution allows flexibility for time-limited or ongoing challenges, and provides technical capability for "shutdown" of challenges so that the results can be preserved or captured even after the submission and judging period of a challenge has concluded.

•·         The solution complies with federal legal and regulatory software/hardware requirements, including Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (accessibility requirements) and security regulations and policy.


•·         The solution will support the exporting of data (challenge entries, comments, ratings) in an open format, such as CSV or XML.

•·         If product is to be hosted at GSA, the solution will be compatible with LAMP environment.






Following is a suggested outline and page counts for a response to this RFI.  This outline is intended to minimize the respondent's effort and structure responses to facilitate analysis by the government.  Nevertheless, respondents are free to develop their responses as they see fit.


1. Company Information and Expertise (1-4 pages)


•·         Briefly describe your company, headquarters location, products and services, history, ownership, leadership, financial information, and any other facts and figures you deem relevant.


•·         Provide company name and address, and two points of contact, including name, title, phone, fax, and e-mail address.


•·         Describe any projects that you've been involved with that are similar in scope and concept to what is described in this RFI, and any relevant lessons learned. Describe your experience offering a platform for innovation challenges and prizes, and specifically your experience providing a platform for government-related innovation challenges and prizes.


2. The Offering (5-12 pages)


The government is seeking responses from qualified providers that address the following.  You are invited to answer these bullets. You may answer each question individually or provide a consolidated answer to related questions.  Also, you may provide references to any information accessible to the government that address these directed topics (e.g. web pages or additional materials). The government appreciates focused responses for each topic. 


•·         What do you offer at no cost that would meet the government's needs for a platform to allow federal agencies to post challenges and invite communities of solvers to suggest, collaborate on, and deliver innovative solutions?  Please be specific as to what is offered at no cost and clearly differentiate it from any other services that do not meet the criteria laid out in the final paragraph of Section 3.0. 

•·         How does this solution meet the objectives listed in Section 4.0?

•·         Are you offering a no cost solution which will not require the government to pay for this solution in the future? For example, are you offering a perpetual no-cost license?

•·         How long has this platform existed?

•·         How many challenges have been run on this platform?

•·         What can users (the public) do on the platform? That is, what functionality by the public is inherent in the product? 

•·         How can users: (a) find other solvers with similar interests to collaborate with, and (b) interact with other solvers, (c) interact with potential solutions themselves, and (d) interact with the "hosts" of each challenge, i.e., federal agencies?

•·         Is there the ability for crowd funding; for example matching potential funders with ideas/solutions rather than the prize/funding coming directly from the government agency that posted the challenge?

•·         Is there the ability for government partners to post or co-post a challenge?

•·         How could users find challenges posted by the government through this platform?

•·         How long would it typically take for an agency to post a new challenge?

•·         What functionality by an agency is inherent in the product? What functionality is configurable within the platform without back-end coding (i.e., what choices in functionality do agencies have in configuring a challenge)?

•·         What administrative roles and permissions are inherent in the product?

•·         What templates, if any, are provided that could be customized by the government to meet agency-specific needs?

•·         How customizable is look and feel (format, layout, graphic design) by the government?

•·         What formats are accepted for entries submitted in response to posted challenges (e.g., text, multimedia)?

•·         What functionality supports outreach?

•·         What functionality supports collaboration?

•·         What functionality supports judging/evaluation?

•·         Do you integrate with social media? How?

•·         What open APIs are offered?

•·         What user testing have you done on your product to increase user performance and satisfaction?

•·         What specific accessibility tools have you used to test your product's compliance with Section 508 and what were the results of those tests?

•·         If offer includes hosting:

•o        What is the maximum number of concurrent users you support?

•o        Describe your application suite's update or patch release cycle?

•o        Describe security measures to protect your infrastructure against unauthorized access to or unauthorized alteration, disclosure or destruction of data. For example, is your hosting infrastructure under a SAS 70 examination?

•o        If vulnerabilities were found by GSA security scans, will you be able to fix them and have a patch release in place in timely manner at no-cost to the government?

•o        Describe any service outages in the past year.

•·         Who owns the data created by running government challenges?

•·         What analytics or reporting, if any, are provided as part of the offering?

•·         Are regular, planned updates/upgrades to the product part of the offering?

•·         Can challenges hosted on another platform be showcased in this platform?

•·         Will instruction manuals, training, or help lines be provided as part of this no-cost offering?  If yes, what would be included?

•·         If the offer includes gratuitous professional services:

•o        What types of services are included?

•o        Are there limitations or specifics on hours of services offered?



Section 3 - Additional Materials


•·         Provide any other materials, suggestions, and discussion you deem appropriate.


No Pricing Information: Since GSA is seeking information on no-cost solutions, no pricing should be provided.  You should only describe exactly what it is you are offering the government at no cost.


The total written response should not exceed 15 pages.






All information received in response to this RFI marked Proprietary will be handled accordingly. Responses to the RFI will not be returned. Responders are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. 



Following is the individual point of contact for this RFI.


Submit all questions regarding this RFI via e-mail to


Rene'e Ballard
Contracting Officer
1800 F St NW, Room 4020
Washington, DC 20405 

Please submit responses to this RFI via e-mail in Microsoft Office format by 5:00 PM on 04/15/2010 to the above point of contact.  You may also submit supplemental hardcopy materials such as brochures, etc. to the point of contact. 

If GSA is interested in the solution you offer, we will contact you.  You may be requested to provide additional information or details based on your initial submittals.  GSA will consider meeting individually about this RFI with respondents based on the information submitted in response to this RFI.  GSA reserves the right to move forward with more than one solution, or no solution at all, in response to this RFI.


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Responses to Questions
Posted Date:
April 13, 2010
18th & F Streets, NW
Room 4020
Washington, District of Columbia 20405
1800 F St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20405
United States
Helen R Ballard,
Phone: 202 501-8925
Fax: 202 501-3161
Daryl Hawkins,
Contract Specialist
Fax: 202 501-3161