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‘Best Idea for Government’ Nets Federal Worker $50,000

Federal Highway Administration employee proposed a nationwide, centralized database for inventorying unused assets in government agencies so that they would be shared.

by / September 14, 2011

A Federal Highway Administration employee has won a $50,000 prize for his “best idea to fix government.”

Aung Gye proposed a nationwide, centralized database for inventorying unused assets in government agencies so that they would be shared. A panel of judges deemed it the best overall idea of the 2011 Merit Awards from government IT network MeriTalk.

The competition’s five finalists and winners were announced Tuesday, Sept. 13, in Washington, D.C.

In June, MeriTalk received more than 1,000 submissions from around the world. The five finalists won in separate categories: back office operations, citizen engagement, emergency response, results achievement and waste.

Gye’s entry, which won the back office operations and best overall category, asserted that government departments and agencies have underutilized cars, buses, office equipment, meeting rooms and other assets that could be assigned for use by different agencies upon request.

“The idea is to share the use of these unused assets by developing a centralized nationwide database to see what assets are available during which time frames by department/agency and by location, to match the need of the requestor,” according to Gye’s entry.

The entry mentioned that the U.S. General Services Administration could participate in the process by helping other departments and agencies. Gye said his proposed database of government assets could reduce unnecessary spending and minimize the acquisition of new equipment.

The contest winners were determined by a panel of 10 judges from private- and public-sector IT. The judges included former Federal CIO Vivek Kundra; Tom Soderstrom, chief technology officer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and Vint Cerf, Google’s vice president and chief Internet evangelist.

The winners in the other four categories were:

  • Citizen Engagement: Daniel Kestranek of Pennsylvania State University proposed a secure U.S. passport mobile application that allows citizens to sign in temporarily and download passport data via near-field communications.
  • Emergency Response: Ben Sottile of the Department of Defense proposed mobile and other disaster alert applications as an early warning system for natural disasters, using consolidated data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies.
  • Results Achievement: Roy Roebuck of One World Information System pitched the standardization of classification processes, including a standard taxonomy model to build, govern and share processes.
  • Waste: Dave Schnell of the North Carolina Department of Revenue discussed the modification of the IT acquisition process to diminish the impact that current or past relationships play in awarding contracts by using standardized criteria and separate agencies to judge merits of requests for proposals.


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Sarah Rich

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. She wrote for for Government Technology magazine from 2010 through 2013.

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