Cash! Prizes! Government! Take the Challenge

March 26, 2013 - 2:27 PM

No cash?

No problem.  The government is here to help.

If you are looking for cash and prizes look no further than challenge.gov, the federal website that gives out awards funded by taxpayers to taxpayers.

Here’s how it works: When the government wants to do something new and creative, it turns to the private sector and offers up a challenge. The public submits their entries and the selected winners of each challenge could receive cash, a prize or special recognition.

Can’t afford to take the Disney vacation this year? Perhaps you have a child who can draw a picture to raise sun safety awareness and win a trip for the whole family!

It seems that sometimes taking notes or photos on your dietary intake is not enough, that’s why NASA is offering $55,000 in prizes for the design, development and production of an iPad app for astronauts.

“We need a more detailed log of dietary intake so that we can better understand the role of nutrition in spaceflight,” the challenge.gov webpage says.

Another food related challenge that captures the imagination is the $9,000 in prize money that was awarded as part of the USDA's “MyPlate Fruits and Veggies Video Challenge.”

“Dozens of contestants demonstrated innovative ways to ‘make half your plate fruits and vegetables’ with skits, songs, and dance,” the USDA press release on the winners says.

And who doesn’t love a good song about fruits and veggies? The prize-winning entry certainly sticks in your head.

While some of these competitions are questionable, the motivation behind challenge.gov is to make government agencies “achieve their missions more efficiently and effectively,” according to the White House.

I can see why the government was attracted to this idea. Someone must have thought, “If there were only some system that allowed people who created economically feasible projects to make money. Then we could come in and make rules and regulations and manipulate the outcome to determine the winners and losers and….oh, wait a second.”