Have a Good IT Idea for Government? You Could Win $50,000.

Money talks. Or in this case, the sponsors of a new contest to find "the best idea to fix government," hope it will persuade people far and wide to submit viable technology solutions to improve federal operations.

The Merit Awards contest, sponsored by MeriTalk, which describes itself as an IT community network of contractors, federal employees, and others, is accepting ideas until 6 p.m. Aug. 1. The program includes eight categories: citizen engagement, defense, emergency response, entitlement reform, workforce management and motivation, back office operations, results achievement and waste.

The contest is open to virtually anyone -- individuals or teams, government employees or contractors, says MeriTalk's Mark Meadows. What's more, entrants may submit ideas however they see fit -- from full-blown theses to Twitter messages. That should certainly make things interesting for the judges.

According to MeriTalk, judges will include Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.; former Republican congressman Thomas M. Davis III; Mark Forman, the first administrator for e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget; Vivek Kundra, the federal CIO; Vint Cerf, Google executive and Internet pioneer; and MeriTalk's founder, Steve O'Keeffe.

O'Keeffe, who described Washington as "an innovation wasteland," said in a statement: "Let's sic the power of good ol' American ingenuity on Uncle Sam. And, let's go further. Innovation knows no borders -- nor does it need a green card. We invite Chinese, Indian, any nomination from the four corners of the globe."

MeriTalk will announce the winner Aug. 23, at the Innovation Nation Forum in Washington.