GSA to Host Data-Infused Hackathon


Participants will be tasked with designing innovative tools to improve data collection at GSA and other agencies.

The General Services Administration plans to open its doors to over 100 members of the public for a hackathon next week to give itself and fellow agencies a technological boost in the data department.

GSA recently announced it will host the Digital Innovation and Strategy Hack-a-thon on May 8 at its D.C. headquarters.

Participants will be tasked with designing innovative tools to improve data collection at GSA and a variety of other agencies. The goal is for these improvements to boost transparency and efficiency.

“The technology solution should be innovative!” Kris Rowley, director of the Enterprise Information & Data Management Office, said in a statement. “GSA does not want an analysis tool that tells what is already known. This should be a forward-thinking solution that enhances transparency.”

The hackathon will assign teams at the start of the competition, and those teams will be asked to solve one of five distinct challenges associated with GSA, which will be revealed once the event is underway.

But each of these challenges will be related to one overarching goal -- to present and organize data so it can be aptly interpreted and shared.

Teams are expected to create a program that both clearly presents a set of data and interprets that data in order to extract actionable meaning.

The agency will supply its own sample data sets for participants to create an application, application programming interface, and/or data mashup.

GSA did not specify who will be judging next week’s event. But it is clear there will be three judges, with specialties in governmentwide policy, travel, IT, and/or acquisition, according to an agency statement.

The judges will likely award three separate prizes, worth $1,000 each, based on each team’s overall score.

Scores will be determined by creativity, innovation, the project’s ability to distill important and usable information and technical abilities.

Anyone can participate as long as they are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and are not working in connection to a federal agency.

(Image via andrey_l/