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Eye Opener: The government promotes more competition(s)

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Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! Private companies and philanthropic foundations use contests and prizes all the time to solicit new business ideas or product ideas, and now the government wants in on the action. The Obama administration on Monday released new guidance on how federal agencies can use competitions to encourage more participation from federal workers and outside groups.

In the past year, the Obama administration solicited cost-saving and energy-saving tips from federal workers, NASA already operates the Centennial Challenge to reward some of the best aerospace research, the Energy Department established the L Prize to solicit ideas on how to build a more efficient light bulb and the State Department started a video contest to promote democracy around the world.

The administration wants to see more of that and plans to build a web-based tool for agencies to use in the next two months. The guidance published Monday provides officials with tips on what types of prizes and incentives to use.

Got any ideas on what kinds of contests and prizes the agencies should consider? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Question of the Week: In the wake of last week's Pentagon shooting, if you're a federal worker, do you feel safe at your place of work? If you're not a federal worker, do you feel that nearby federal facilities are well protected? Send your responses to federaleye@washingtonpost.com and please include your full name, hometown, the agency for which you work. Your thoughts may be used in Friday's Washington Post.

More Obama Nominees Announced: On Monday the president tapped Philip D. Moeller and Cheryl A. LaFleur to serve as commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Lawrence J. Pijeaux Jr. to serve as a member on the National Museum and Library Sciences Board. Track all Obama nominees with The Post's Head Count.

Cabinet and Staff News: Yet another "Rahm Emanuel is screwing up" profile. Defense Secretary Robert Gates meets with Hamid Karzai in Kabul. Obama nominates a retired Army major general to lead TSA. Sens. Feingold and McCain introduce a bill to cut the number of political appointees.

CENSUS BUREAU:
Budget woes fuel plea for residents to send in census forms: The 2010 Census will determine how more than $500 billion in federal funds is divvied up each year, according to a new study that adds urgency to cash-strapped jurisdictions pushing residents to mail in their census questionnaires later this month.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Northrop Grumman pulls out of Air Force tanker bid: One source briefed on the decision said that Northrop executives decided that the Pentagon's insistence on a firm, fixed-price contract would have made it hard for the company to profit from producing the new aircraft.

Army contractor's use of a cover name for Blackwater angers Sen. McCaskill: A $25 million contract, awarded in September 2008, was to a company called Paravant -- well known to those involved as a cover name for Blackwater (now Xe Services).

Officers who shot Pentagon gunman recall moments of mayhem: The incident was, the officers said, the sort of harrowing, random attack they try to stay alert for -- even at the end of a shift on what had been a normal Thursday of checking identifications at the Pentagon entrance.

House appropriators threaten to intervene on Blackwater contract: Democrats promise to resist the award of a huge Afghanistan training contract to the firm formerly known as Blackwater.

Pentagon resists Army's desire to stop development of MEADS missile system: Another battle is brewing at the Pentagon over a costly weapons program that many military leaders do not want but that so far has proven difficult to kill.

ECONOMIC STIMULUS:
Stimulus funds pay for monkey research in N.C.: Monkeys are getting high for science in North Carolina.

ENERGY DEPARTMENT:
Register soon for Hanford nuclear tours: Ever wanted to see the world's first large-scale nuclear reactor? How about a tour of the Hanford nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington State?

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
How Obama can get behind the idea of limited government: Slate's Jacob Weisberg on how the president can go about establishing himself as a limited-government liberal.

Pentagon shooting puts federal building security back in spotlight: A House subcommittee on the federal workforce plans to focus next Tuesday on how federal agencies are sharing tips on threats with local law enforcement agencies, which could be unfamiliar with the tenants and security efforts at government buildings in their jurisdictions.

Uncle Sam has no wedding gift of benefits for same-sex couples: Though he does not have the power to stop the nuptials, he does have the ability, like a meddlesome relative, to make his displeasure known.

IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT:
DHS corrects report that overstated ICE deportations under Obama: The 387,790 illegal immigrants removed by ICE in fiscal 2009 was still a record, as cited in the department's Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Financial Report.

NASA:
Former NASA official Sarsfield pleads guilty in contract scheme: Prosecutors say Liam P. Sarsfield, a former chief deputy engineer in Washington, controlled a $1.5 million fund and designed contracts that wouldn't have to be put out for bid.

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION:
No evidence Mei Xiang is pregnant -- yet: Four weeks after the National Zoo's biggest star was sent back to China, zoo scientists are trying to see if they can get his mother pregnant.

TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT:
Analysis finds uneasy mix in auto industry and regulation: As many as 33 former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration employees and Transportation Department appointees now work for automakers as lawyers, consultants and lobbyists and in other jobs that deal with government safety probes, recalls and regulations.

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By  | March 9, 2010; 6:10 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Next: Are federal workers 'the enemy'?

Comments

Contest - Cost Saving - name the one medical insurance company that could provide service to all government employees state wide
Prize - Paid medical insurance for one year

Contest - Going Green - design a paper towel dispenser that does not require 6 size D batteries to operate - wait we had those before - nevermind

Posted by: Govt | March 9, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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