Contest Management Software: Tips for Running Government Challenges

In terms of running contests, the government surely knows how to roll with the times. In his column for federal technology resource FCW, Steve Kelman, Harvard Kennedy School professor of public management, describes how government contests have “come of age.”

Goverment Contest

As an ultimate form of pay-for-success contracting, and (as it developed) as a way to encourage non-traditional players into working to meet government needs, contests — I am about to give in to government-ese, and call these “challenges” — have immense virtues for meeting certain kinds of public purposes.

This may be one of the single largest changes in government management in the last decade. (My nominations for the others would be increased use of performance measurement and government’s use of social media.)

Professor Kalman also notes, after having read the Deloitte report called “The Craft of Incentive Prize Design,” that the U.S. federal government has spearheaded hundreds of contests—350, to be exact—and that state and local governments as well as charitable organizations continue to hold hundreds of similar events each year.

The Deloitte guide has plenty of advice for governments when it comes to running challenges, some of which Kalman mentions. The firm suggests that a contest can be divided into smaller legs and publicized to reach more people, encourage more participants, and promote awareness. The judging of winners and awarding of prizes should be studied and planned well, as these factors largely affect the public’s reaction to the event.

Any government executive in charge of planning a competition should keep these tips in mind, especially when it comes to choosing contest management software. Among other things, the project head must choose a program that can accommodate the planned competition structure.

For example, consider social media contests that bolster the success of government-sponsored public participation challenges. Links to the contest, which are usually hosted on the state/local government’s official website or on a special domain, should be posted across the relevant social media channels. The software must also be compatible with the specific guidelines of these online platforms.

Any organization, be it in the government or in the private sector, would do well to consult an established contest app provider when running a contest for the first time. A company like Skild, Inc., which has vast experience in designing and running government contests, can walk clients through the specifics of designing and managing online competitions. With these experienced creative directors and marketing consultants on board, clients can get more ideas on how to attract participants and broaden exposure for their respective advocacies.

(Source: Government contests come of age, FCW, July 11, 2014)

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