The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today launched a new competition to create a Government Effectiveness Advanced Research (GEAR) Center to address challenges facing the Federal government. The competition runs from today through August 1, 2019.

The idea of the GEAR Center, and seed funding for the organization, has been circulating at OMB since last year, and today’s announcement marks a new phase in its development.

“The GEAR Center will be a public-private partnership that brings together top talent from diverse fields for applied research to improve mission delivery, citizen services, and stewardship of public resources,” GSA explained in a press release.

“The uniquely American research and development system that brings together universities, Federal labs, private companies, and non-profits has made us a global leader in most fields,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy. “The GEAR Center provides a common ground to bring those same partnerships together to help solve the biggest challenges facing our government and improve how we serve citizens.”

The competition, which will award $300,000 to three grand prize winners, is looking to bring together members of academia, industry, and the general public to “build cross-sector, multidisciplinary teams to demonstrate the potential of the GEAR Center.” As part of the competition, teams will describe how the GEAR Center will tackle one or more challenges facing the Federal government outlined in the 2019 President’s Management Agenda.  GSA noted that the goal of the challenge is to assess “the feasibility of the model before further investment and will inform how the GEAR Center could work to deliver these impacts.”

OMB’s Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert said in a statement, “Today’s digital economy has transformed how citizens interact with government. By leveraging technology and innovation, the GEAR Center will ensure our government connects to cutting-edge thinking and real-world solutions. This Administration is improving the Federal government’s ability to provide better citizen-centered services better positioned to address new and complex challenges.”

The competition will happen in three phases. First, initial concept papers are due by 5 p.m. ET on May 24, 2019. From there, up to 20 competitors will be invited to submit more detailed plans, and then 10 finalists will deliver presentations to a panel of Federal executives. GSA and OMB plan to announce final awardees on August 1, 2019.

GSA and OMB will host a webinar to answer questions and allow interested solvers to connect with experts working on President’s Management Agenda challenges. The webinar will be held on May 13, 2019, and questions can be submitted to in advance.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.