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Federal Agencies To Share Incentive Ideas

A White House-sponsored event is aimed at showing federal officials how to use awards to inspire technology innovations.

The Obama administration this week will hold an event to teach government agencies and policymakers how to uses incentives to foster technology innovation.

The event is part of Obama's Strategy for American Innovation, which calls for new policies to use prizes, challenges, and awards to help meet the transparency objectives of the Open Government Directive, according to a White House blog post.

Through the directive, the Obama administration has made it a mandate for government agencies to use technology to make government services more accessible and agencies' activities more transparent to the public.

Some agencies already have implemented the use of prizes and challenges with positive results, according to an Office of Management and Budget document released last month.

For instance, NASA implemented the Centennial Challenges to encourage students, citizen inventors, and entrepreneurs to submit new ideas to the space agency. As a result, NASA has new technologies for lunar landers, space elevators, fuel-efficient aircraft, and astronaut gloves, according to the OMB.

The Department of Energy, too, used an incentive called the L Prize to help spur the creation of new solid-state lighting products to replace inefficient light bulb design.

Another challenge program by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has advanced the development of robotic cars that drive themselves, according to the OMB.

Policymakers in more than 25 federal agencies and departments are expected to attend Friday's event, co-sponsored by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Case Foundation.

Experts in prizes, challenges, and open grantmaking will share their successes and challenges with using incentives, according to the blog post. Officials also can share some of the programs they are considering using and get feedback on their plans.

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