Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Crowdsourcing for better government is a fascinating experiment under the Obama Administration in its own right but more interesting is how it has been evolving... but also making government more accessible (

Others, however, are essentially using the website as a new form of procurement. In some instances, the goods or services they seek are fairly general. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is now offering $100,000 for "bold new ideas" on how to manage and improve the clinical quality of addiction treatment. Others are far more specific. NASA recently solicited designs for a 3D printable handrail clamp assembly for the International Space Station. [...]

And it's not just that these kinds of platforms only reward positive outcomes. Typically, they also end up leveraging the incentive money they offer several times over. In the case of the NASA handrail clamp assembly challenge, the total prize money offered was just $2,000. But it attracted 474 entries. Had NASA been paying market rates to even just the top 10 percent of these entrants for the time they spent designing their submissions, its costs would have been far higher.

In general, crowdsourcing platforms inspire innovation by putting problems in front of more eyes. And is already working in this fashion. Aaron Foss, who won a 2012 Federal Trade Commission challenge that sought new methods of helping consumers block telemarketing robocalls, told Forbes that he "never would have worked on the robocall problem if not for the challenge." Similarly, a NASA survey of approximately 3,000 challenge participants found that 81 percent had never previously responded to government requests for proposals.

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