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Nextgov Bold Awards 2013 Honors Feds for Innovative Tech That Saves Time, Money and Lives

A NASA hackathon, an app to track whales and an initiative to allow federal employees to use their own smartphones and gadgets for work were among projects recognized Wednesday with the first annual Bold Awards.

Nextgov received nearly 200 nominations for the contest. Our editorial staff selected 19 finalists -- individuals and teams from a dozen agencies -- that exemplify the kind of creative problem-solving, technical acumen, ambition and persistence we frequently hear about in the private sector but too seldom learn about in government.

"Our objective with this program was to draw attention to some of the really interesting technology work that's happening in federal agencies," said Nextgov executive editor Katherine McIntire Peters. 

We asked non-government members of our Prime advisory board to select the most noteworthy of the finalists.

And the winners are. . .

  • NASA Deputy Chief Information Officer Deborah Diaz and project manager Nicholas Skytland led a winning effort that resulted in the largest hackathon ever to create software and hardware that addressed real-world problems.
  • Joshua Campbell, a State Department geographer, won for building a process to create and share free geographical data.
  • The Veterans Affairs Department’s Kathleen Frisbee and Davd Peters led a team that developed numerous health apps credited with pushing VA past the private sector in telehealth.
  • Kimberly Hancher, CIO of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched a successful bring-your-own-device initiative that has been a model for other agencies.
  • Peter Kusmak, also of VA, created a process to match digital medical images from the Defense Department and other providers with VA’s electronic health records system.
  • Jonathan Rubin, director of the FirstFriday’s Federal Usability Testing Program at the General Services Administration, won for expanding that program beyond his agency to improve digital and citizen services across government.
  • David Wiley of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration led a team to produce Whale Alert, a mobile app to prevent endangered right whales from colliding with ships.

Nextgov readers voted for State’s Jessica Klein, for the People's Choice Bold Award. She is the driving force behind, an easily accessible database for information about foreign aid spending.

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