This post was written by Michael Smith on behalf of the Case Foundation:

On Friday, April 30 we’re teaming up with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Domestic Policy Council (where the Office of Social Innovation resides) to bring the private and public sectors together to discuss lessons and strategies from experiments in prizes, challenges and open grantmaking – big and small.

This meeting is part of our continued efforts to encourage citizen involvement in decisions that affect them, and it’s part of the Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive, which requires agencies to tap the expertise and ingenuity of the American people to bring the top talent & best ideas to bear on our nation’s most pressing problems.

As I said in my blog post launching our series on Citizen-Centered Solutions last month, we have been experimenting with programs like this since we launched our Make It Your Own Awards and America’s Giving Challenge in 2007 – and we could not be more excited about the flood of similar programs that have come since then…  everything from the American Express Members Project to this year’s Pepsi Refresh Project and now the White House telling agencies to tap into the knowledge and innovation of the people it serves! I may be a bit of a civic engagement nerd, but the possibilities of breaking down barriers and moving beyond the stale and stagnated when we commit to reaching new audiences and democratizing problem solving gives me goose bumps…  really.

The meeting on Friday will highlight leading private sector innovators like the X Prize Foundation, American Express, PepsiCo, and the Knight Foundation along with cutting edge federal government innovators from DARPA, NASA, and the Department of Education. More than 100 federal government workers who are charged with implementing these new programs will listen to panels, participate in interactive discussions and Ignite sessions (where select participants will have three minutes to present new ideas) and hear from six senior officials from across the White House.

Prizes and challenges have proven to be effective in mobilizing the masses and identifying brilliant new ideas; however, we will be asking ourselves the tough questions, like…

  • How do you ensure transparency in decision making?
  • How do you ensure quality and impact?
  • How do you determine what problems should be tackled by an in-house team, contracted out, or opened to all through a prize?
  • And, how do you wade through the bureaucracy that makes innovation and taking new paths seem almost impossible.

We don’t want to take on these questions alone. So, while the capacity of this room may be limited we want to expand this discussion to as many people as possible. That’s why we’re hosting a day long series of live, interactive CaseSoup interviews with speakers from the event giving you a chance to hear from them and ask questions via social media. That’s why all panels and keynotes will be filmed and made available to the public the week of May 3rd. And, that’s why today, we’re asking that you take a look at the agenda and comment on this blog post with any questions that you would ask or any thoughts you have on what we’re trying to accomplish. So, let your voice be heard. What do you think?