The federal government is offering the private sector the opportunity to influence which projects its upcoming Government Effectiveness Advanced Research Center will address and offering cash prizes to do so.

The GEAR Center Challenge, which stems from a proposal originally in the Trump administration’s government reorganization plan, will take place in three phases: project proposal, project plan submissions and proposal presentations.

The first phase opened for submissions May 2, and each subsequent phase will consist of participants selected from the previous phases. The challenge plans to award up to three prizes of $300,000 each with five additional winners that receive public recognition.

According to government officials who spoke on a May 13 webinar about the challenge, the judges will be looking for proposals that directly map to cross-agency priority goals from the President’s Management Agenda, and plans that address multiple goals at one time are even better.

“Think bolder and look for innovations that will drive advancement into the future,” said Mark Bussow, performance manager at the Office of Management and Budget, adding that the judges wanted to see submissions that would “push the envelope” of how the government can improve.

Though interested parties can submit multiple proposals to the challenge, each proposal is only available for one prize.

And while the $300,000 is not dependent on implementation of the plan — the challenge is seeking ideas, not contract proposals, according to the officials — but proposals will have to address the financial feasibility of the program.

Proposals will also not determine the shape of the GEAR Center itself, according to Bussow, but rather will provide the new center with potential first steps.

Submissions for the first phase are due by May 24, 2019, and should consist of a two-page proposal that summarizes the potential program, the anticipated results, the ideal team to implement the proposal and the resource requirements necessary to undertake it.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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