Timeline

  • Submission start (ET):
    11/09/2018 03:30 PM
  • Submission end (ET):
    12/31/2018 11:59 PM
  • Judging Start:
    01/02/2019 08:00 AM
  • Judging end:
    01/31/2019 11:59 PM
  • Winner announced:
    02/22/2019 10:00 AM

Type Of Challenge: Ideas

ABOUT THE COMPETITION

NSF has a hypothesis.

Technology is changing the way we do our work, and the work itself.  To keep up, the National Science Foundation (NSF) plans to invest in its most critical resource – the workforce.  And it's not just NSF.  The need for an adaptable and ready workforce extends to other Federal agencies and beyond.  No industry will be immune to the way advances in technology change the nature of work.  As a pressing example, we are facing critical gaps in matching people with data science and cybersecurity skills with the right mission needs.  NSF believes that, along with other agencies and organizations, the best way to maintain a workforce ready to carry out its mission is to encourage a culture of continuous learning, and to empower each person to refresh and modernize their skills toward future work.  We want to spark the thinking of the best and brightest to co-create a solution that can enable individual skill-matching and tailored training for the Workforce for the 21st Century.

NSF has a vision.

Imagine a mechanism that rapidly enables an individual to match their skills and interests to current and future work opportunities, leveraging advanced technologies which incorporate learning and development needs (traditional, non-traditional, and experiential), and that provides direct access to options for obtaining the relevant expertise to ready the individual for the chosen work. 

 

The future world of work may not be recognizable yet, however a ready workforce will remain critical for both economic prosperity and mission accomplishment.  Employers must start now to instill a culture of continuous learning in its most critical resource, the workforce.   To do this, we must think creatively about broadening the pool of available candidates by lowering the barriers for access to opportunities.  This journey begins with a mechanism that enables individuals to self-select and prepare for chosen work that complements their skills and interests.  The future of work is one of continuous change, which depends on a culture of continuous learning. 

 

COMPETITION AIMS

This Career Compass Challenge is part of an effort to modernize the American workforce, but in order to do that we are focusing on the National Science Foundation as a model.  This Challenge will address the changing nature of work, and the pace of change to the types of work, needed to carry out essential missions for the American people and create the Workforce for the 21st Century, starting with NSF.  At the conclusion of this Challenge, NSF hopes to have created a "market" for technology solutions that will help employees plot a path for changing careers or identify how to move forward in their current career path, while also facilitating continuous reskilling.

Moreover, the Career Compass Challenge will help inform further collaborative, cross-sector innovation that Federal agencies are pursuing more broadly, such as through the Government Effectiveness Advanced Research—or GEAR—Center.  The GEAR Center will facilitate applied research to tackle management challenges at the Executive Branch enterprise level, confronting shared issues like workforce reskilling that cut across Federal agencies and other stakeholders.  To the extent that this Career Compass Challenge is intended to explore creating a culture of a continuously ready workforce, on a small scale for NSF – by leveraging thought leaders across the American public, academia and industry – this challenge may be a model for learning how to successfully tackle other broad opportunities through a crowdsourced, test and learn model. 

We want to hear from you!

Let’s explore innovative ways to expose opportunities for NSF employees, within NSF, across Federal Agencies, and even beyond the Government.  Let's be creative about leveraging training methods that are broadly accessible and that empower each person to ready themselves to take advantage of available opportunities. 

Can you help us figure out a way to meet the workforce “where they are at”?  Can you propose a solution available to anyone, at any time, from any device, in any location, and from any economic or educational background?  Think NSF first, and then think beyond.  This challenge is broadly applicable and the outcomes should be scalable.

This is a two-part challenge. Solvers have the option to participate in Part 1, Part 2, or both parts of the Challenge.  Part 1 solicits concept white papers, and winning submissions will then be posted for Part 2Part 2 participants are encouraged to adopt Part 1 concepts to build upon and/or may introduce new concepts upon which to develop working prototypes.  While up to five submissions may be chosen as prize winners in Part 1, only one successful prototype will be selected to win the Part 2 prize.

 

COMPETITION OVERVIEW

The different types of roles and opportunities the Government offers the Federal workforce are more diverse than they have ever been, and the way federal staff work is changing.  Federal employees no longer stay on a linear career path in the same field for most of their careers.  Instead, many employees are branching out by making lateral moves into different fields.  In addition, the pace of changes to the types of work that employees do, largely because of the ever-changing pace of technology, has increased dramatically over the past few years.  It is difficult for agencies to identify and provide training for the workforce at the same rate of those changes.  And it's likely that the Federal Government is not alone. The winning solution will:

  • Describe the proposed solution, explain how it works, and clearly identify how it will solve the problems articulated in the challenge description
  • Address individuals as the end user for the solution, starting with NSF employees
  • Explain the competitive advantage of the approach
  • Include a comprehensive workflow for the proposed solution
  • Provide an example use case ("Part 1") or working prototype ("Part 2")
  • Include a visual representation of the solution, such as a drawing, architecture diagram, or framework

Part 1 (November 9, 2018 – December 31, 2018)

In Part 1 of this challenge, solvers are asked to submit a concept white paper that describe a solution to the challenge of continuous workforce reskilling and the desire for increased mobility within and between NSF and other Federal agencies (and perhaps even the private sector), as an example.  Solvers are asked to think creatively about methods that go beyond the traditional "career path" thinking and "strategic workforce planning" methodology when exposing future skill needs or opportunities for an individual's consideration when choosing a development path.  Solvers are also asked to consider relevant research on adult cognition and reskilling, particularly for those that must "work" and "learn" simultaneously.  A panel of judges will evaluate the concept paper submissions, and up to five may be selected as Part 1 prize winners.  The winning concepts will then be made available for solvers interested in participating in Part 2 of this challenge.

Part 2 (February 25, 2019 – June 28, 2019)

In Part 2, solvers are encouraged to leverage and build upon winning concepts to develop a working prototype for Government testing and evaluation.  Solvers will have approximately one month to register to participate in Part 2 of the challenge, either as individuals or as teams.  NSF will host an entrance conference with Part 2 registered solvers to:

  1. Understand the solver community's ideal needs for data, NSF staff subject matter expertise, etc.
  2. Set a cadence for regular interaction with the Part 2 solver community for the duration of the Part 2 competition timeframe.
  3. Answer questions the Part 2 solver community may have related to winning concept papers. 

The intent of the Government is to hold webinars and/or teleconferences with all Part 2 potential solvers simultaneously, to the extent that the solvers are interested in participating.  All engagement between the Government and the Part 2 solver community will be open to all registered solvers who wish to participate, and any information shared during these times will be made available to all Part 2 registered solvers.

 

COMPETITION SCHEDULE

Part 1

  • PART ONE COMPETITION OPENS: November 9, 2018
  • PART ONE SUBMISSION DEADLINE: December 31, 2018, 11:59 pm ET
  • 1st ROUND OF JUDGING (Part One): January 1 – January 31, 2019
  • PART ONE WINNERS ANNOUNCED: February 22, 2019

Part 2

  • PART TWO COMPETITION OPENS: February 25, 2019
  • PART TWO PARTICIPANTS/AGENCY ENGAGEMENT BEGINS: April 1, 2019
  • PART TWO SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 28, 2019, 11:59 pm ET
  • 2nd ROUND OF JUDGING (Part Two): July 1 – 31, 2019
  • PART TWO WINNER ANNOUNCED: August 16, 2019

 

Federal Agency Partners

Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges consisting of representatives from multiple agencies, that also participate on the President's Management Council.

 

CONTACT

CareerCompassChallenge@nsf.gov  

Part 1

$25,000

Based on the quality of submissions received, between one and five white papers will be selected to win the award purse for "Part 1".  Each winner or winning team will receive a one-time prize of $5,000.00 to be issued in the form of an electronic direct deposit payment.  Winners will be responsible for providing the NSF Division of Financial Management with banking information (must be a U.S. bank account) in order to facilitate the electronic payment (i.e. direct deposit).

For a participant’s concept submission to be eligible to win "Part 1" prize monies, the submitter must agree to have their winning concept materials posted on Challenge.gov and for the "Part 2" solver community to be able to leverage the concept materials for prototype development.

Part 2

$75,000

Based on the quality of submissions received, up to one successful prototype will be selected to win the award purse for "Part 2".  The winner or winning team will receive a one-time prize of $75,000.00 to be issued in the form of an electronic direct deposit payment.  Winners will be responsible for providing the NSF Division of Financial Management with banking information (must be a U.S. bank account) in order to facilitate the electronic payment (i.e. direct deposit).

For a participant's prototype submission to be eligible to win "Part 2" prize money, the submitter must make the prototype available for live testing and evaluation by the Federal government.

REQUIRED FORMS

Contestants must complete and upload the following form with their entry:

NSF Form 1515 - One form per entry must be completed, signed, and uploaded with your final submission. Please check the box “NSF and External Use” to allow your concept paper submission to be posted on Challenge.gov, the NSF website, and NSF social media. Download the form.

Please Note: While NSF Form 1515 specifies use of multi-media, which covers the solver's visual representation of the described concept, Part 1 winning submitters acknowledge that ideas submitted are not subject to copyright and agree to have their full submission (narrative and visual) posted on Challenge.gov for use in Part 2 of this challenge.

 

ENTRY GUIDELINES

Part 1

  • All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 31, 2018.
  • Narrative submissions must include a title and an executive summary not to exceed one page.
  • Narrative submissions must include a visual representation of the described concept (e.g., architectural diagram, process flow, etc.)
  • Solvers are encouraged to be succinct in their narrative submissions.  It is expected that narrative descriptions not exceed 20 pages, including the executive summary and visual representations.
  • Narrative submissions, executive summary documents, and visual representations must adhere to one or more of the following formats: Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Adobe PDF. 
  • Narrative submissions must be formatted with one-inch margins and be in 12-point font, Times New Roman or Calibri.
  • A challenge entry constitutes an agreement to adhere to the rules and stipulations set forth by the contest sponsor, NSF.
  • Entrants must meet the eligibility requirements described in the Eligibility section.
  • Any entrant or entry found in violation of any rule will be disqualified.
  • Entries must not advertise or promote a commercial product visually or orally.
  • Each individual or team entrant certifies, through submission to the contest, that the entry is his/her own original, creative work and does not violate or infringe upon the creative work of others, as protected under applicable intellectual property law.
  • By entering the contest, the entrants agree to hold NSF harmless from all legal and administrative claims to include associated expenses that may arise from any claims related to their submission or its use.
  • All Federal Career Compass judges' and NSF’s decisions are final and may not be appealed.
  • Participants understand that ideas cannot be patented or copyrighted, and that solvers will not retain exclusive ownership of the intellectual property or any of the content included in the concept papers.
  • NSF will not be responsible for any claims or complaints from third parties about any disputes of ownership regarding the ideas, technology, white papers, prototypes, or images included in entries.
  • Winners are responsible for all taxes or other fees connected with the prize received and/or travel paid for by the sponsoring organization.
  • NSF reserves the right for any reason, including but not limited to an insufficient number of qualified entries, to modify or cancel the competition at any time during the duration of the competition.
  • Should NSF decide to bring winning contestants to the Washington, D.C. area, or to any other location for promotional and other purposes, expenses paid by NSF will be within the limits set forth in law according to federal travel regulations.
  • All contestants agree that they, their heirs and estates shall hold harmless the United States, the employees of the Federal Government, including all employees of NSF for any and all injuries and/or claims arising from participation in this contest, to include that which may occur while traveling to or participating in contest activities.
  • NSF has the final say on any point not outlined in the entry rules.
  • NSF, at its sole discretion, shall determine eligibility of any contestant or team, and may disqualify anyone at any time for any reason.

Part 2

  • All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 28, 2019.
  • Narrative submissions must include a title and an executive summary not to exceed one page.
  • Narrative submissions must include a visual representation of the described concept (e.g., architectural diagram, process flow, etc.)
  • Solvers are encouraged to be succinct in their narrative submissions.  It is expected that narrative descriptions not exceed 20 pages, including the executive summary and visual representations.
  • Narrative submissions, executive summary documents, and visual representations must adhere to one or more of the following formats: Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Adobe PDF. 
  • Narrative submissions must be formatted with one-inch margins and be in 12-point font, Times New Roman or Calibri.
  • A challenge entry constitutes an agreement to adhere to the rules and stipulations set forth by the contest sponsor, NSF.
  • Entrants must meet the eligibility requirements described in the Eligibility section.
  • Any entrant or entry found in violation of any rule will be disqualified.
  • Each individual or team entrant certifies, through submission to the contest, that the entry is his/her own original, creative work and does not violate or infringe upon the creative work of others, as protected under applicable intellectual property law.
  • By entering the contest, the entrants agree to hold NSF harmless from all legal and administrative claims to include associated expenses that may arise from any claims related to their submission or its use.
  • All Federal Career Compass judges' and NSF’s decisions are final and may not be appealed.
  • NSF will not be responsible for any claims or complaints from third parties about any disputes of ownership regarding the ideas, technology, white papers, prototypes, or images included in entries.
  • Winners are responsible for all taxes or other fees connected with the prize received and/or travel paid for by the sponsoring organization.
  • NSF reserves the right for any reason, including but not limited to an insufficient number of qualified entries, to modify or cancel the competition at any time during the duration of the competition.
  • Should NSF decide to bring winning contestants to the Washington, D.C. area, or to any other location for promotional and other purposes, expenses paid by NSF will be within the limits set forth in law according to federal travel regulations.
  • All contestants agree that they, their heirs and estates shall hold harmless the United States, the employees of the Federal Government, including all employees of NSF for any and all injuries and/or claims arising from participation in this contest, to include that which may occur while traveling to or participating in contest activities.
  • NSF has the final say on any point not outlined in the entry rules.
  • NSF, at its sole discretion, shall determine eligibility of any contestant or team, and may disqualify anyone at any time for any reason.
  • Participants understand that entrants retain all copyright and equivalent rights but give NSF nonexclusive rights to use their names, likenesses, quotes, submissions or any part of their submission for educational, publicity, and/or promotional purposes. This includes, but is not limited to, website display, print materials, and exhibits.
  • Entries should ensure products leveraged in the solution adhere to industry best practices for cybersecurity and personally-identifiable information (PII).  For the purposes of this prototype, solvers need not comply with all Federal cybersecurity and PII guidance and requirements, however solvers should bear in mind that any scalable, commercially-viable solution must meet these requirements. 

How will Concept Papers submitted in Part 1 of the challenge be judged?

Judges will evaluate a collection of concepts submitted. Based on the scoring, up to five winners will be identified.

1st Round of Judging

All entries will first be screened for compliance with the rules. All compliant submissions will be scored by a panel of judges, using on the following four criteria:

  • Creativity (20%):
    • Concept demonstrates thinking that looks beyond traditional methods to incorporate agile and experiential development
  • Clarity of concepts and ideas (20%):
    • The concepts and ideas underlying the submission are clearly and accurately illustrated through the visual representation of the described concept.
  • Communicating concept in an accessible and exciting way (40%):
    • Concept is presented at a level and using language that can be understood by a broad audience of varying ages and subject matter backgrounds.
    • Use of technical terminology and assumption of prior knowledge of the concepts presented are limited.
    • Concept submission communicates project ideas, purpose, and/or impact in a way that excites the audience about continuous workforce development.
    • Concept has the potential to break down barriers for people who may perceive employment opportunities as inaccessible or have trouble envisioning themselves as able to take advantage of development opportunities.
  • Use of Evidence-Based Solutions (20%):
    • Concept demonstrates understanding of adult cognition
    • Concept demonstrates use of positive reinforcement
    • Concept employs various teaching techniques
    • Concept has reasonable expectation of being useful for Part 2 solver community for functional prototype development.

How will Prototypes developed in Part 2 of the challenge be judged?

Judges will evaluate a collection of prototypes submitted. Based on the scoring, up to one winner will be identified.

2nd Round of Judging

All entries will first be screened for compliance with the rules. All compliant submissions will be scored by a panel of judges, using on the following four criteria:

  • Creativity (20%):
    • Extent to which the proposed solution demonstrates uniqueness and innovation
    • Extent to which the proposed solution demonstrates originality and ability to fill a gap and/or answer a question in a unique manner
    • Extent to which concept demonstrates use of advanced technologies
  • Clarity of Prototype and ideas (20%):
    • The prototype is clearly and accurately illustrated through the visual representation of the solution/solution set.
    • Extent to which the proposed solution indicates why it is an improvement over existing products and/or how it fills a need
    • Extent to which proposed solution can improve employee engagement with development opportunities
  • Communicating value in an accessible and exciting way (20%):
    • Extent to which proposed solution demonstrates the potential value for stakeholders
    • Extent to which proposed solution demonstrates ability to coordinate with relevant stakeholders, such as academia, industry, Federal systems
  • Performance and Usability (40%): 
    • Demonstrates use of best practices. Prototype leverages user-centric design, in line help, secure technologies, etc.
    • Extent to which the proposed solution demonstrates how the design elements will attract, engage, and influence users to take intended action
    • Extent to which the proposed solution provides evidence that it is replicable and scalable; potential for use in other and/or larger settings must be addressed
    • How well the proposed solution addresses assessment of potential market and plans for reaching intended market
    • How well the proposed solution demonstrates potential of user acceptance of the product
    • Extent to which proposed solution demonstrates product functionality; the product should be functional as described in the competition overview
    • Extent to which proposed solution demonstrates implementation feasibility across intended platforms, sites, and/or users
    • Extent to which proposed solution indicates potential for sustainability and profitability

HOW CAN I ENTER?

  1. All entries must be submitted through the Challenge.gov website in accordance with the deadlines stated for Parts 1 and 2 of this competition.
    • Note that solvers may choose to participate in either Part 1 or Part 2 only, or they may opt to participate in both.  The winners for each Part will not necessarily be the same.
  2. Entries may be submitted by an individual or by a team.  Anyone who registers as an individual or team member will automatically give NSF permission to use their name and likeness.
    • Individuals: Register as a team leader and complete the registration information.
    • Teams: One team member registers as the team leader and then invites the other members to join.  Team members must all be age 14 or older at the time of the Challenge start date.  Every team member must register by entering their information.

 

Competition Eligibility

  • All contestants (including individual entrants and all team members) must be at least 14 years of age on November 9, 2018 and be:
    • U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or
    • Residing legally in the U.S. on November 9, 2018
    • Incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, if the contestant is a private entity
  • Only one entry per individual or team is permitted.
  • For each part of the challenge, a contestant may submit an entry as an individual or as a member of a team, but not both.
  • For each part of the challenge, a contestant may only be on at most one team.  Contestants may register for one or both parts of the challenge and need not participate on the same team for both parts of the challenge.
  • Entries are welcomed from amateurs and professionals alike.
  • Teachers are encouraged to enter on behalf of their classes.
  • Entries may be submitted by individuals or by teams comprised of up to 5 individuals, one of whom must be designated as the team leader.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to participate in this contest:
    • Employees of NSF, including but not limited to those with career, temporary, term, or VSEE (Visiting Scientist, Engineer, and Educator) appointments;
    • Fellowship holders working at NSF, e.g., NSF/American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellows and Einstein Fellows;
    • Others working at NSF, e.g., Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignees;
    • NSF Advisory Committee members;
    • Career Compass Challenge judges;
    • Family members of, persons living in the same household as, and anyone who has a financial relationship with: employees of NSF (including but not limited to those with career, temporary, term, or VSEE appointments), Fellowship holders working at NSF, others working at NSF (e.g. IPAs), and Fed Career Compass Challenge judges; and
    • Federal employees working within the scope of their employment.
  • Federal grantees and contractors may not use federal funds to develop entries for this contest.
  • For a participant’s concept submission to be eligible to win "Part 1" prize monies, the submitter must agree to have their winning concept materials posted on Challenge.gov and available for the "Part 2" solver community to leverage for prototype development.
  • For a participant's prototype submission to be eligible to win "Part 2" prize money, the submitter must make the prototype available for live testing and evaluation by the Federal government.