The Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will be holding a code-a-thon to find data-driven solutions to the opioid health epidemic.

“Ending this epidemic is among the department’s top priorities, and to combat this crisis the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has implemented a five-part strategy that provides the overarching framework for HHS’s opioid-related activities,” the challenge said. “To build on these efforts, HHS is looking to leverage the full potential of data and technology to address the opioid crisis by hosting an Opioid Code-a-Thon.”

Teams participating in the code-a-thon will use HHS-provided datasets to develop solutions in one of three tracks: Opioid Treatment, Opioid Usage and Opioid Misuse Prevention.

The event is limited to approximately 25 teams, and the winning team of each track will receive a prize of $10,000.

The code-a-thon announcement comes on a day focused on the opioid crisis as, in a speech later that day, President Donald Trump named the opioid epidemic a Nationwide Public Health Emergency, which allows for expanded access to telemedicine services, opens up hiring at HHS and shifts resources to combat opioid abuse. Trump also directed all executive agencies to use “every appropriate emergency authority” to fight the epidemic.

“Ending the epidemic will require mobilization of government, local communities and private organizations. It will require the resolve of our entire country,” said Trump. “I want the American people to know the federal government is aggressively fighting the opioid epidemic on all fronts.”

“Today’s declaration, coupled with the president’s direction that executive agencies use all appropriate emergency authorities and other relevant authorities, is another powerful action the Trump administration is taking in response to America’s deadly opioid crisis,” said acting HHS Secretary Eric D. Hargan. “President Trump has made this national crisis a top priority since he took office in January, and we are proud to be leading in this effort at HHS. His call to action today brings a new level of urgency to the comprehensive strategy HHS unveiled under President Trump, which empowers the real heroes of this fight: the communities on the front lines of the epidemic.”

Registration for the competition opened Oct. 26, 2017 and the submission reviews and prize awards will occur on Dec. 7, 2017.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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