In September 2009, President Obama released his Strategy for American Innovation, calling for agencies to increase their ability to promote and harness innovation by using policy tools such as awards and competitions. The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, passed in December 2010, permits any agency head to “carry out a program to award prizes competitively to stimulate innovation.” ONC began running challenges in 2011 under this authority, and has executed over 30 challenges since then.

Prize challenges allow the public to solve problems presented by ONC and receive awards for the best solutions. At the most basic level, challenges contain three steps: 1) ONC announces a problem to the public; 2) participants create and submit solutions to the problem; and 3) ONC evaluates those solutions and awards prizes to the best ones. Awards can be monetary, non-monetary, or both. 


ONC uses challenges for purposes beyond generating solutions to problems, including:

  • Signaling interest in areas that markets should be doing more to serve
  • Reaching wide communities of experts
  • Generating interest in new services, data, and technologies
  • Developing public buy-in for agency initiatives
  • Bringing people previously unaware of ONC activities into the fold


ONC often has multiple challenges running simultaneously. The following challenges are currently active:

Announced or accepting submissions

ONC does not have any challenges currently accepting submissions; please visit ONC Challenges and Winners to see the most recent results.

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