U.S. Government Embraces Crowdsourcing Ross | March 10th, 2010

The White House has embraced crowdsourcing, urging federal agencies in a memo issued on March 8, 2010 to use challenges and prizes to crowdsource innovative approaches to governmental initiatives and programs. Within the next 120 days, the administration will release a web-based platform to manage the government’s crowdsourcing efforts.

Some of you might recall that the U.S. House of Representatives recently ran a web design project on crowdSPRING. The project was a phenomenal success and the new web design has been launched – you can see it here.

Earlier in 2009, Representative Mike Honda (15th district of California – which includes Silicon Valley), ran a project on crowdSPRING for the redesign of his website. That project was also a phenomenal success and the new design can be seen here.

The government’s embrace of crowdsourcing is connected to President Obama’s goal to create a more transparent, participatory and collaborative government. Here’s the opening paragraph of the government’s memorandum:

At the outset of his Administration, President Barack Obama signed the Memorandum on
Transparency and Open Government, committing the Administration to creating a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government. On December 8, 2009, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the Open Government Directive (Directive), which required executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to further the principles established by the President’s memorandum. The Directive also tasked the OMB Deputy Director for Management with issuing guidance for the increased use of challenges and prizes to develop new tools and approaches to improve open government. This memorandum highlights for agencies policy and legal issues related to the implementation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to increase the use of prizes and challenges as tools for promoting open government, innovation, and other national priorities.

We applaud the federal government for embracing crowdsourcing and supporting innovation.

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  • edward boches

    Good news and smart stuff. I believe that Canada is already doing in its effort to make that country a leader in the digital age. Sourcing everything from policy to ideas that might help. Of course, as you know, only as good as the guidance, strategy, crowd and approach. Hope you become a preferred vendor.

  • edward boches

    Good news and smart stuff. I believe that Canada is already doing in its effort to make that country a leader in the digital age. Sourcing everything from policy to ideas that might help. Of course, as you know, only as good as the guidance, strategy, crowd and approach. Hope you become a preferred vendor.

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  • crowdspring isBAD

    why do people think working this way is a good idea? do any other industries exist where a service provider is asked to do all the work upfront, without any guarantee of being paid for that work?

    imagine if you went to a restaurant and tried that? said i would like to eat your finest steak, will also go to 10 other restuarants to try their finest steaks, and then at the end of the night I will decide which one to pay.

    RIDICULOUS!!!!

  • crowdspring isBAD

    why do people think working this way is a good idea? do any other industries exist where a service provider is asked to do all the work upfront, without any guarantee of being paid for that work?

    imagine if you went to a restaurant and tried that? said i would like to eat your finest steak, will also go to 10 other restuarants to try their finest steaks, and then at the end of the night I will decide which one to pay.

    RIDICULOUS!!!!

  • MsKittyFantastico

    too bad that memo says nothing about crowdspring. make note that in NO way does this endorse your services. crowd sourcing is different. crowd sourcing works. crowdspring often does not. just look at how many projects never get off the design stage.

  • MsKittyFantastico

    too bad that memo says nothing about crowdspring. make note that in NO way does this endorse your services. crowd sourcing is different. crowd sourcing works. crowdspring often does not. just look at how many projects never get off the design stage.

  • pram99

    cS and many others (evan fry on of the worst offenders) have hijacked the term “crowdsourcing” for the purpose of furthering an opportunistic agenda that siphons hard earned time from creatives without any meaningful compensation whatsoever.

    i find it hilarious that cS would cite an endorsement from our government: the folks who couldn’t fry an egg without a year long process resulting in a powdered egg shaped like a chicken.

    talk about smoke blowing.

    #FAIL

  • pram99

    cS and many others (evan fry on of the worst offenders) have hijacked the term “crowdsourcing” for the purpose of furthering an opportunistic agenda that siphons hard earned time from creatives without any meaningful compensation whatsoever.

    i find it hilarious that cS would cite an endorsement from our government: the folks who couldn’t fry an egg without a year long process resulting in a powdered egg shaped like a chicken.

    talk about smoke blowing.

    #FAIL

  • Nick

    Wow whoever implemented the final design to the working site really blew it when they exported all the graphics. No wonder our congress blows, they can’t even higher decent web developers to get a design right. On top of that they can’t even check the site for consistency before it goes live to the site.

  • Nick

    Wow whoever implemented the final design to the working site really blew it when they exported all the graphics. No wonder our congress blows, they can’t even higher decent web developers to get a design right. On top of that they can’t even check the site for consistency before it goes live to the site.

  • pram99

    and an additional though – after looking at the winning design for the website referenced above: this is just another example of bad spending on the gov’t’s behalf. they could have bought a template that would have served their purpose, and been easily more attractive.

    let’s say worst case, would have cost them $95 plus coding.

    this reminds me of the goldrush when the real money-makers were those selling the wheelbarrow, jeans, pick-axes, mining pans and dynamite to the prospectors. fair enough cS, great business model, but don’t call it crowdsourcing. what utter bs.

  • pram99

    and an additional though – after looking at the winning design for the website referenced above: this is just another example of bad spending on the gov’t’s behalf. they could have bought a template that would have served their purpose, and been easily more attractive.

    let’s say worst case, would have cost them $95 plus coding.

    this reminds me of the goldrush when the real money-makers were those selling the wheelbarrow, jeans, pick-axes, mining pans and dynamite to the prospectors. fair enough cS, great business model, but don’t call it crowdsourcing. what utter bs.

  • Steve

    Yes, we should also outsource our congress as well!

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  • Steve

    Yes, we should also outsource our congress as well!

  • ALLAK

    The answer to the restaurant compare. In the restaurant you are consuming and either enjoying or suffering while doing that, but at the end you either had good meal or you had an indigestion. cS is creating choices for people that could be used and re-used and make a difference in their life of businesses. Bad compare!!! :(:( The better one is: You are buying several suites and after 2 weeks returning all you do not like and just leaving the best fit for yourself. At the end of the day you just paid for the one that you like more, that fit you better and cost more reasonable. And we are doing it with goods all the time, but not with consuming goods, not with food or drinks. So, nothing to be afraid off. It is just new way to bring people the choices and numerous ideas instead of confine them and force them to work with few institutions that charge an arm and a leg.

    Now, in response to the Government endorsement. It is a great idea to crowd source some government decissions and listen to the crowd rather then to the conservative ideas of people that only thinking about their place under the sun, not the people that selected them. I am sure there many genius people that could resolve more intelligently what stagnant , government under the pressure of politics, high budget, buracrocy, etc, etc, etc could come up with in many cases. Innovation,… not the old way of dealing with everything, is what needed now across the continents, across all fields, across all area of industry, science, culture, etc, etc, etc, and to search and find these brilliant people or brilliant ideas,

    It takes a Globe!!!!!

    And if you are scared, step aside!!!!!!

  • ALLAK

    The answer to the restaurant compare. In the restaurant you are consuming and either enjoying or suffering while doing that, but at the end you either had good meal or you had an indigestion. cS is creating choices for people that could be used and re-used and make a difference in their life of businesses. Bad compare!!! :(:( The better one is: You are buying several suites and after 2 weeks returning all you do not like and just leaving the best fit for yourself. At the end of the day you just paid for the one that you like more, that fit you better and cost more reasonable. And we are doing it with goods all the time, but not with consuming goods, not with food or drinks. So, nothing to be afraid off. It is just new way to bring people the choices and numerous ideas instead of confine them and force them to work with few institutions that charge an arm and a leg.

    Now, in response to the Government endorsement. It is a great idea to crowd source some government decissions and listen to the crowd rather then to the conservative ideas of people that only thinking about their place under the sun, not the people that selected them. I am sure there many genius people that could resolve more intelligently what stagnant , government under the pressure of politics, high budget, buracrocy, etc, etc, etc could come up with in many cases. Innovation,… not the old way of dealing with everything, is what needed now across the continents, across all fields, across all area of industry, science, culture, etc, etc, etc, and to search and find these brilliant people or brilliant ideas,

    It takes a Globe!!!!!

    And if you are scared, step aside!!!!!!

  • Terry

    @Allak

    Actually, that’s a poor analogy unless you’re talking about custom tailored suits. No retailer would sell you a custom-fitted suit and then accept a return. Bad compare!!! :( :(

    We could stick with your suit analogy, but this is how it would work:

    A customer comes in and tells 20-100 tailors they need a specific suit. Some tailors will get direction, and others won’t. Some will spend 12 hours, and others will spend only 2 hours. Instead of a fashion expert, the customer will also drive all final creative say. All but one of those tailors will be paid, and all but one of those suits will actually be used.

    That model would not work in fashion. There really isn’t another industry, goods or services, where this model would work.

    PS. You probably don’t buy a lot of suits, but buying several only to return them would be a pretty inconvenient thing for the consumer. cS is centered around the “client” and is at no point inconvenient to them – just the designer.

  • Terry

    @Allak

    Actually, that’s a poor analogy unless you’re talking about custom tailored suits. No retailer would sell you a custom-fitted suit and then accept a return. Bad compare!!! :( :(

    We could stick with your suit analogy, but this is how it would work:

    A customer comes in and tells 20-100 tailors they need a specific suit. Some tailors will get direction, and others won’t. Some will spend 12 hours, and others will spend only 2 hours. Instead of a fashion expert, the customer will also drive all final creative say. All but one of those tailors will be paid, and all but one of those suits will actually be used.

    That model would not work in fashion. There really isn’t another industry, goods or services, where this model would work.

    PS. You probably don’t buy a lot of suits, but buying several only to return them would be a pretty inconvenient thing for the consumer. cS is centered around the “client” and is at no point inconvenient to them – just the designer.

  • Terry

    You know what? I lied, this working model would work well in a FOX reality show drama about a sassy bunch of teens looking for their soulmate on a deserted island with one caveat – they must do it for free. Winner gets married and a dowry!

  • Terry

    You know what? I lied, this working model would work well in a FOX reality show drama about a sassy bunch of teens looking for their soulmate on a deserted island with one caveat – they must do it for free. Winner gets married and a dowry!

  • Foo Fooerson

    Possibly not everyone thinks being endorsed by a government with out of control spending and profligate waste is a good thing. Do me a favor and dont mention “O” again.

  • Foo Fooerson

    Possibly not everyone thinks being endorsed by a government with out of control spending and profligate waste is a good thing. Do me a favor and dont mention “O” again.

  • DL

    And this is a good thing how???? Anything endorsed by Obama is a great way to lose support if you ask me. There are a lot of great minds out there the equate an endorsement by Obama to a death sentence. Or maybe it’s just me.

  • DL

    And this is a good thing how???? Anything endorsed by Obama is a great way to lose support if you ask me. There are a lot of great minds out there the equate an endorsement by Obama to a death sentence. Or maybe it’s just me.

  • Ross

    @edward boches – Canada has been a leader in a number of important areas, and it’s good to see that the U.S. government is also starting to innovate.

    @crowdspring isBAD – Service providers do work upfront in many industries without any guarantee of being paid for that work.

    @MsKittyFantastico – While we would have been honored and humbled if the government’s memo mentioned crowdSPRING, we’re pretty sure they don’t know we exist (other than the project the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee posted and a few other projects). As for whether projects work – we let our record speak for itself. More than 95% of projects on crowdSPRING lead to a happy buyer.

    @pram99 – I’m still trying to picture an egg shaped like a chicken and trying to figure out which came first…

    @Nick – I agree that the government has a long way to go…but good to see them started down a path of innovation.

    @Steve – it’s entirely possible that outsourcing Congress COULD lead to better decisions. Any thoughts where we can outsource them?

    @ALLAK – Thanks for contributing to the discussion. I like the suit analogy and in fact, a great many freelances who design clothing design on spec.

    @Terry – The arguments about whether the model should/shouldn’t work are intellectual interesting, but ignore reality. Over 55,000 designers and writers work on crowdSPRING. We pay out millions of dollars per year. We can talk of analogies – or facts. As for the FOX reality show – I’ve seen some crazy stuff on FOX – maybe you should pitch this idea to them?

    @Foo Fooerson – It’s entirely possible the government’s spending is not out of control. They seem pretty intent on spending as much as possible – deliberately and knowingly.

    @DL – If you agree that innovation is a good thing and that normal citizens might have smart ideas about ways to improve government, it’s a good thing. Now – what the government does with those suggestions is a totally different story.

  • Ross

    @edward boches – Canada has been a leader in a number of important areas, and it’s good to see that the U.S. government is also starting to innovate.

    @crowdspring isBAD – Service providers do work upfront in many industries without any guarantee of being paid for that work.

    @MsKittyFantastico – While we would have been honored and humbled if the government’s memo mentioned crowdSPRING, we’re pretty sure they don’t know we exist (other than the project the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee posted and a few other projects). As for whether projects work – we let our record speak for itself. More than 95% of projects on crowdSPRING lead to a happy buyer.

    @pram99 – I’m still trying to picture an egg shaped like a chicken and trying to figure out which came first…

    @Nick – I agree that the government has a long way to go…but good to see them started down a path of innovation.

    @Steve – it’s entirely possible that outsourcing Congress COULD lead to better decisions. Any thoughts where we can outsource them?

    @ALLAK – Thanks for contributing to the discussion. I like the suit analogy and in fact, a great many freelances who design clothing design on spec.

    @Terry – The arguments about whether the model should/shouldn’t work are intellectual interesting, but ignore reality. Over 55,000 designers and writers work on crowdSPRING. We pay out millions of dollars per year. We can talk of analogies – or facts. As for the FOX reality show – I’ve seen some crazy stuff on FOX – maybe you should pitch this idea to them?

    @Foo Fooerson – It’s entirely possible the government’s spending is not out of control. They seem pretty intent on spending as much as possible – deliberately and knowingly.

    @DL – If you agree that innovation is a good thing and that normal citizens might have smart ideas about ways to improve government, it’s a good thing. Now – what the government does with those suggestions is a totally different story.

  • Dom

    Seems some of you, who think working on something and not getting paid, are clearly NOT creatives. If you were you would know that in the “creative” industry this process is known as a PITCH. Heh ho!

  • Dom

    Seems some of you, who think working on something and not getting paid, are clearly NOT creatives. If you were you would know that in the “creative” industry this process is known as a PITCH. Heh ho!

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  • http://www.reartinetillers.net/ Rear tine tiller

    Most people, when they criticize, whether they like it or hate it, they’re talking about product. That’s not art, that’s the result of art. Art, to whatever degree we can get a handle on (I’m not sure that we really can) is a process. It begins in the heart and the mind with the eyes and hands.

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