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Awareness, Tech Projects are Top Crowdsourced Goals in Government, Study Says

Federal initiatives that link prizes to crowdsourced solutions show trends in government objectives and finances supporting them.

When it comes to prize-driven crowdsourcing in government, top goals include raising public awareness, developing tech pilots and prototypes, and idea generation, according to a new study.

The study, The craft of incentive prize design: Lessons from the public sector (PDF) -- published by the IT firm Deloitte this week -- examined 314 prize-based challenges on the site, a platform that publishes prize competitions run by 50-plus federal agencies. Analysis of competition data showed marked emphasis toward promotion of public awareness. The objective occurred in 37 percent of competitions -- or 146 times. 

Following public awareness, building prototypes and launching pilots came in at 114 occurrences, or 29 percent; attracting new ideas tallied 94 occurrences, or 24 percent; mobilizing community action at 27 times, or 7 percent; inspiring transformation in citizen behaviors at 7 occurrences, or 2 percent; and stimulating market growth was last at 4 occurrences or 1 percent.

Despite the prevalence given to public awareness, data from 2010 to 2013 denotes its weight in government has declined, and even plateaued, as jurisdictions leveraged the knowhow of developers for the aim of building prototypes and launching pilots — an example being The New York City Big Apps Challenge that drove software developers to create apps to increase accessibility of municipal data.

Funding these prizes was also listed.

Notwithstanding market stimulation’s small percentage compared other goals, it dominated in dollar amounts. The median amount spent in the category was $10 million — the max was $15 million. As an example, the report referenced the U.S. Department of Energy’s joint campaign with Progressive Insurance to incentivize car companies to create energy efficient vehicles through the Automotive XPRIZE, a $10 million award for the best 100 mpg car.    

In contrast, goals that targeted public awareness held median budgets just under $1,000.

  Infographic courtesy of Deloitte University Press |
Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.