How to Use Challenge Prizes
"It might be the glory, the hardness of the problem"
Offering someone a prize to complete a task is a straightforward form of incentive. Offering them a prize to invent something that doesn’t yet exist is a little more complicated. But this kind of incentive, a “challenge prize,” has produced many of the technological achievements we take for granted today.
Over the last decade, presidents have tried to encourage more agencies to issue prizes, rather than simply relying on their traditional procurement techniques of grants and contracts. But how do you make one of the biggest bureaucracies on earth adopt a new practice? Today we talk to perhaps the world’s most authoritative source on getting government agencies to use prizes.
What You’ll Learn:
Why prize challenges have been so historically effective
When a prize can be too large
How the OMB operates as “the president’s disciplinarian”
What the CFO of a federal agency does
Our guest today, Cristin Dorgelo, served at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) from 2012-2014, as chief of staff and as the assistant director for Grand Challenges, driving national initiatives in science and technology. She was recently the senior advisor for management at the Office of Management and the Budget (OMB), from January 2021 through January 2023.
Previously, she managed major prize challenges at the XPRIZE Foundation, including the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE, the $2.5 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and the $2.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge. Dorgelo was also President and CEO of the Association of Science and Technology Centers.
As VP of prize operations at the XPRIZE Foundation, you managed multiple eight-figure prizes. You've managed and helped people manage prizes in the U.S. government.
What are prizes good for, and what are they bad at?
It's helpful to have historical context for what prizes are good for and where to put them to use. Prizes are not new. In 1795, Napoleon offered 12,000 francs to improve upon food preservation methods at that time. This is how we got the canning methods we all use today. Dava Sobel’s book Longitude is about the series of prizes from Spain, the Netherlands, and Britain that eventually led to the awarding of a prize in 1773 for John Harrison's method of longitude.
Even flight: think of Raymond Orteig in 1919, offering a $25,000 prize to push the envelope on aviation and reward a nonstop flight between New York and Paris [which was won by Charles Lindbergh for his 1927 flight in the Spirit of St. Louis]. That prize inspired the eventual Ansari XPRIZE for commercial spaceflight, which was won by Burt Rutan for Spaceship One, and that led to Virgin Galactic and a rising commercial space industry.
In the early 2000s, we saw this resurgence of incentive prizes. Mainly this was happening with the financial backing of philanthropy and high-net worth individuals. McKinsey issued a report [in 2009] finding a tripling to $375 million in incentive prize purses over the ‘00s.
Governments started taking a look at this, and DARPA ran a series of challenges for autonomous vehicles in the early 2000s. NASA offered a series of centennial challenges starting in 2005 for a bunch of NASA's space exploration and space technology challenges, and Congress charged DOE in the early 2000s to run a prize for advanced performance in LED lighting. And that was awarded in 2011.
Why was all this happening? Because prizes are a good way of shining a spotlight on a problem. You can draw attention by offering shiny prize purses and saying, “This is a goal we should work toward.” You're only paying for results.
A lot of government procurement in particular is done on the basis of a proposal, and somebody's ability to write on paper. By contrast, some of the most effective prizes have actually put technology into a demonstration environment that can show what it can do. We've seen prizes enable the offerers to reach beyond usual responders. You can identify some new talent.
You might get some out-of discipline-perspectives, and sometimes that's the primary reason someone is offering the prize. Especially in technology demonstration prizes, you see private sector investment on top of that prize purse, sometimes even 10x or more.
One of the geeky things that I'm most excited about in terms of prizes is the establishment of a level playing field – sandboxes where people from all corners can come and try something out. In particular, if you're going to award a prize, you have to know how to judge it. You have to figure out metrics and protocols for assessing performance. In clean energy in particular, that's been really helpful for establishing: “What are we looking for?” “What are the standards that these technologies need to meet?” And, “what are the tradeoffs with things like cost, equity and performance?” Sometimes offering a prize helps get a conversation going about how we measure progress in a given technological field.
Prizes are not just one thing. Since that McKinsey report, a whole bunch of frameworks have been developed that have defined different types of prizes. I would note that there have been prizes for technology demonstration and hardware. Those are most of the examples I've given you so far, in part, because I think they're actually the most effective prizes.
There also have been a few scientific challenges that look at pushing earlier in the scientific development process, a whole bunch of quite interesting data and algorithm competitions that are focused on ML and the use of large data sets to build on each other's progress iteratively to improve machine learning and algorithms. There’s some sort-of effective app development challenges, which may or may not drive new effective apps and software. There’s entrepreneurship and business plan challenges, where sponsors offer prizes in order to train and equip future entrepreneurs. Probably less immediately impactful, but an interesting way of uncovering new ideas, would be ideation challenges or design challenges, where the winners are really winning in a smaller award, usually for a proposal on paper. But it is a good way of getting a sense of a variety of options out there.
When you say that prizes for technology hardware are the most effective use case: what is it about hardware that lets prizes be effective?
First, some nascent technology development has already occurred. So if you look across the market, you can say, “Why yes, there are quite a number of promising potential performers out there that have not yet been able to bring their potential solutions forward.” So some level of technology maturity.
Second, you're actually asking for a demonstration in the real world. I've run competitions at the Department of Interior test tank at a Navy base in New Jersey, at a NASCAR track in Michigan, and in the deserts of California. You are seeing those prototypes get tested against a common set of metrics.
So you know at the back end whether the technology is doing what it is claiming to do. That's different from an ideation competition, where it's much like a competition for proposals. You're just seeing this thing on paper. And I think the other part of that is it really can drive that private sector investment, because these are often entrepreneurs or academics that are doing some degree of technology transfer activities.
People come in, investing in those companies and then licensing or patenting that technology to bring it further forward to market. So it feels like a sweet spot for prizes in the technology development life cycle.
I'm assuming that there’s already private interest in funding many of the things that you could use a prize for, like space technology. What do prizes add on top of existing market interest?
Well, now you think that there's private interest in investing in private space technologies. But at the time the Ansari XPRIZE was offered, it was really only governments that were going into space; it was pretty hard for new players to break in.
So prizes are particularly helpful as a market stimulation or demand-pull mechanism. Not to use overly wonky phrases, but they are one of a class of demand-pull mechanisms where the market might not be fully functioning on its own, where the financial incentives aren't clear enough to create the startup momentum for private sector investment to initially come in. The buyer may be unclear. This is similar to why we see advanced market commitments being offered. It's clarifying that call for that demand for something new and really creating that start at momentum. That is the sweetest spot.
Sometimes you might think you're in that spot and you’re not. So we've seen genomics competitions getting outpaced by the private sector investment and the private sector market. While those competitions contributed cool ways of measuring progress in genomics, we probably would have gotten there anyway, because of the market forces at work.
Is there a rough heuristic for how large a prize needs to be to work as a pull mechanism?
I don't think there is, because it is so specific to the state of a given market and the state of a given technology. And I think the way I'd come at your question is that it is not always about cash. Sometimes cash money is the driver for headlines, coverage, and the way in which the public gets attention, but sometimes the most powerful incentives for the entrepreneurs or solvers themselves isn't just the money. It might be the glory, the hardness of the problem.
Also, that ability to be tested by a third party and have a third party tell you how effective your technology was against their bar is really attractive for entrepreneurs, who may otherwise lack a place to do that sandboxing and get that feedback from a third party validator.
You were assistant director for Grand Challenges at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) from 2012-2014. What's the difference between a grand challenge and a prize?
One of my very favorite questions. So President Obama launched a White House Grand Challenges initiative that I helped to lead. A grand challenge is an ambitious yet achievable goal. We call them moonshots today, although we hear the phrase Earthshots being used by the Department of Energy.
There are some similarities to prizes. You're making your goal obvious. You're making your goal as specific and measurable as possible, but there's not necessarily an assumption that you're using a prize incentive as the only way to drive progress.
Grand challenge efforts like President Obama's BRAIN Initiative in some cases use prize challenges to advance some aspect of the mission, but also use grants, philanthropic partnerships, R&D funding, contracts, even just research agenda setting, in order to make progress.
Some of the Department of Energy grand challenges have been powerful because they've convened the people interested in that goal on an annual basis with the thousands of researchers working on making solar cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
They're also focused on technology. Often they are thinking about the full picture of what it would take to reach that goal. That ability to say, beyond technology development, “What else do we need? What are the market challenges at hand? What are the consumer awareness questions at hand? What unlikely partnerships need to be developed to solve this problem?” So they are related, but you can think of grand challenges as a bigger umbrella in which you're going to use a lot of strategies to go after that big moonshot goal.
It's interesting that you emphasize the convening ability of the federal government. From the outside, that doesn’t seem especially useful, compared to the tangible value of a public-facing prize.
But I would say it has proven to be. For instance, the Department of Energy was trying to make progress on concrete clean energy issues for buildings, like wireless smart meters and rooftop air chillers. One of the ways they did that was not by putting up new cash, but actually by bringing together the building managers who had a sense of the technology requirements they needed, with companies that could potentially design, develop, test, and deploy those technologies.
That is essentially a convening function: setting the table, getting those requirements to be made more explicit, and then translating that into a market demand statement for the build side of industry.
We've also seen powerful progress on health research done the same way. The National Eye Institute essentially did an innovation initiative, where they called out promising areas of research. They used their convening function to bring in people who hadn't worked on eye disease issues before, and really set that forward research agenda for the field. There's countless others. To me, it's actually one of the most underutilized, low-lift ways for the federal government to drive progress towards some of these big challenges.
Is there a cap on the number of grand challenges you can deploy? Presumably it's valuable to have a narrow set of targets.
I would say that's true both for federal government-offered grand challenges and moonshots and for other organizations that might step into issuing those things…being really crystal clear about your top priorities, right? Whether you’re a federal agency or a local university.
After I left the Obama OSTP, I spent time with 25 research universities that were launching their own grand challenge initiatives, which tended to be more locally focused on issues like opioids, or climate resilience, or mental health in the community. Those universities found it really important to pick one or two, maybe three that were their signature initiatives, that were really driving the way they engaged with local elected officials, with philanthropy and with community groups. That clarity of priority was super important.
That might be one failure mode of grand challenges: doing too many at once and diffusing your focus. Is there another classic failure mode?
Some mistakes are actually common to both grand challenges and prizes. For instance, poor problem definition is a failure state not just for prizes and grand challenges, but for grants and contracts as well. The ability to reach, as one of my mentors Tom Kalil used to say, the “Goldilocks level” of problem definition, not too vague in that no one can see their part in “what would I do to help work toward that goal?” And not so specific that you aren't actually stimulating interest, or you're leaving out a set of disciplines or potential contributors. I wish we could have a class on problem definition for almost everyone working in the federal government.
Another failure is not understanding the maturity level in the space you are trying to work in, or, as federal agencies might call it, the technology readiness level. That informs what mechanism you use, whether that's a prize, basic R&D investments, or a more broad grand challenge approach that looks at technology adoption. I've often seen people wade in without understanding, “What is the maturity level of the solution I'm trying to advance?”
And people get the incentives wrong. The dollar figure might be too low. Sometimes it's just too high! And you've truly scared off people who might say, “Well, there's no way my solution would be eligible for 30 million.”
The final one I'd mention is not planning for what comes next. This is a continuum of technology development, and once that prototype exists, what are you going to do to help bring it to market? What happens next? You see plenty of prize competitions that have had their winners fall flat because there's no ready next step for where they go from there.
So you were at OSTP and then later at OMB, the Office of Management and the Budget. Can you tell me in layman's terms what OMB actually does?
I was at OMB from the start of the Biden administration through January of this year, and I worked as part of the OMB management offices, and I agree, people don't fully understand OMB's broader missions.
OMB's responsibilities in developing the president's budget and other supplemental budgetary proposals and requests is somewhat broadly understood. I think that OMB's role in leading the federal regulatory process through OIRA is somewhat broadly understood. As people pay attention to rules that they're tracking, they might interface with that part of OMB.
OMB gives advice to the president, like other offices in the Executive Office of the President, and I would shout out the OMB Office of General Counsel for being a particular place of legal interpretation for any administration.
But less well understood, I think, is that OMB is a small federal agency in the Executive Office of the President that has a vast amount of current and historical institutional memory. It follows how the implementation of federal programs and operations is happening, where there are long term challenges, unresolved issues, unfinished work under the law that needs to be addressed. Almost no small cadre of federal employees has a more high-elevation view of federal government implementation challenges. Both by statute and administratively, OMB steers the management of federal agencies, including through the President's Management Council with the deputy secretaries of federal agencies, and they work to ensure the federal government operates as an organized enterprise, on topics like procurement and federal financial assistance.
Tell me about OMB's culture. It's a fairly small team of officials. I have a quote here from a former division head who describes OMB as “the Pony Express in reverse: every four years or so, a new set of fresh riders comes in to ride the same old tired horses.”
I would have to disagree. The OMB career workforce may be tired. They may have had some hard go’s over time, but they are also some of the smartest, most passionate federal employees I've ever had the opportunity to work alongside.
There is indeed a small layer of political appointees that come in with any administration. And there are hundreds of career employees, and also detailees and those that come in from other sectors through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act and other fellowship authorities. Those career officials are the primary points of contact to federal agencies on a wide range of issues. OMB people value accuracy. They value historical knowledge and not recreating wheels. They value creativity in the ways you can implement a piece of legislation or an executive order and make sure that's done with effectiveness, with efficiency, with accountability and openness where possible.
OMB helps implement executive orders and legislation. What does that look like in practice?
So when a new executive order is signed by the president or a bill is signed into law, OMB starts by understanding the requirements. These things are usually very complex, very legalistic. Sometimes they need a cheat sheet or a translation into plain English, even for federal agencies. So, you'll see OMB convening the agencies to talk about what just got passed, what just got signed. You'll see OMB issuing guidance to agencies, sometimes in the form of OMB management memoranda, or M-memos as they're called, providing answers to agencies for frequently asked questions about what does this mean, what can I, can't I do. I wish that all law and all executive orders were written in simple language that one could read and understand, but that is not always the case. Then OMB follows up through a variety of mechanisms, whether through interagency councils or specific agency discussions about where deliverables might be behind.
Every part of OMB is involved, whether that's the budget teams, which are also called resource management offices, the general counsel's office, who is helping to interpret those new laws or those new executive orders, and even to help draft those executive orders in the first place, and then the teams I got to work with, the management offices of OMB that are looking at different facets, like the procurement aspects, the financial assistance and management aspects, the digital services and technology delivery aspects of those executive orders and legislation.
If additional legal clarification is necessary, which is almost always, then OMB is creating a position from the executive branch to the Hill about what new law might be needed to make implementation of this body of work more effective. And OMB convenes the agencies to inform those legislation positions that any administration takes.
You've served under two presidents who advanced the use of prizes across federal agencies. Help me understand OMB's role in helping agencies do that.
This is a great example because OMB and OSTP worked very closely with center-of-government agencies like the General Services Administration (GSA), and with specific mission agencies across the federal government. GSA is a key partner to OMB in almost every aspect of supporting federal agency implementation.
With prizes, the collaboration started even before any government-wide authorities were passed. We’d seen early government adoption prior to the Obama administration. When the Obama administration came in, OSTP and OMB started to document those examples. On the first day of his administration, President Obama signed a memorandum on open government. The President releases a Strategy for American Innovation in [September] 2009, which reiterates that commitment to using prizes. And in December, the director of OMB issues an open government directive, and the deputy director for management at OMB gets tasked with issuing guidance on how these prizes should be used. My predecessor at OSTP, Robynn Sturm Steffen, then collaborated with the Office of General Counsel and the management teams at OMB to issue an OMB memorandum, one of my favorite documents in the federal government, which helped to set out that guidance for federal agencies.
What did that guidance do? It clarifies existing prize authority: “How are we legally allowed to do this in the first place? Can we actually sponsor prize competitions? Can we hire contractors to do this?”
It's not just about guidance and policy on paper. Sometimes it's about broader infrastructure. So after this policy framework was in place, OMB and OSTP worked with the General Service Administration to launch a government-wide website called challenge.gov. It's been around for 13 years. It's one place that citizens can go and find government prizes.
As this is happening, OMB and OSTP are giving advice to Congress on behalf of the federal agencies. The America Competes Act passed. The America Competes Act Reauthorization Act of 2010 was signed into law in January of 2011. Prizes now have broad authority. All agencies have broad authority to issue prizes, not just a few agencies. They all do.
GSA works with OMB and OSTP to establish a schedule for contractors that can help federal agencies. This might not seem like a big deal, but not every federal agency had that expertise in-house, right? They had to go out of house to find people that could help them. GSA set up a vehicle for them to do that.
Then in August of 2011, OMB's general counsel and the chief information officer sent out a memo on the new prizes authority. It answers all those agency questions. It clarifies what the authority means. It was a big new authority. Agencies could issue $50 million in prizes, and they had a ton of questions that needed to be answered.
We also saw in 2011, the launch of a new center of excellence at NASA. OSTP and OMB worked to make that happen and to get NASA providing through interagency agreements help to other federal agencies. That was really influential. And Open Government National Action Plans are developed by OMB and OSTP every two years, and every two years prizes were mentioned there.
So this was a slow build from 2009 to the end of the Obama administration in 2016. By 2015, you'd seen 200,000 citizen solvers participating in something like 400 federal prizes offered. By that point, 1,500 federal professionals involved across the federal agencies had received training or participated in the community of practice.
13 years later, Challenge.gov says that federal agencies have offered more than 1,300 prize competitions. Some of these nerdy and wonky guidance documents that OSTP put out actually catalyzed and turbocharged a whole lot of agency adoption.
The White House Transition Project, an outside group, describes the OMB as “the president's disciplinarian.” What levers does OMB have to strongly encourage agencies to do what the president wants?
Sometimes OMB does have to operate in a compliance-based approach. Is your agency doing this thing that Congress or the President told them to do? It doesn't feel good to have somebody checking up on your compliance — it feels like after-the-fact “support” for your work. In its best form, OSTP and its management offices help agencies avoid the need for that checkup or any gotcha, or a GAO report on non-compliance.
So OMB works closely with the Inspector General community and GAO. The OMB Deputy Director for Management is the “Executive Chair of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.” OMB meets regularly with the head of GAO to have that open line of discussion about what might not be going right.
OMB offices try to get some guidance out ahead of implementation. When the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was passed, OMB issued guidance to federal agencies on how to approach implementation. That guidance covered things like program and payment integrity, how to advance equitable outcomes and implementation, and what authorities agencies could use to advance good jobs through the infrastructure law. That's OMB trying to get it right up front with its federal agency partners.
It also does that in the context of interagency discussion. In addition to the President's Management Council. all of the key management offices in federal agencies, whether those are chief financial officers or chief acquisition officers, are convened by a counterpart office in OMB to talk about what's coming up, to talk about issues shared by all agencies, to try to make sure that things are done right on the front end, and to understand where agencies may be hitting delays on implementation and why. And then OMB can be a voice to Congress, or to GAO, or back to the broader White House about barriers that agencies are running into.
When CFOs of different agencies are meeting, what are they talking about?
A council like the CFO Council is populated often by senior career officials in agencies, not by political appointees. Those people have a long view. They’re often talking about what's needed for the health of their agency, long-term organizational health. That might be resourcing, or policy changes. Or they might be talking about 2 CFR, a regulation important to federal financial assistance that OMB owns through its Office of Federal Financial Assistance.
They might be talking about translating words the administration uses, words like climate resilience or equity, into practical terms: “what we need to look for as managers of these programs.” Chief financial officers may also be talking about USAspending.gov and what information is available to the public about federal financial assistance, grants, loans, and contracts. And they'd be talking about what their hurdles might be to making sure that data is clear, useful, and usable by the American people, not just by inspectors general or by good government groups. And they care very much about the quality of that output. And making sure that what they're producing is useful to understand, to help the public understand what these agencies are up to.
So they [the agendas of these meetings] look like a lot of shared government work, right? How do we as federal agencies become more effective together? And sometimes that's data standards. And sometimes it's collective communication back to the White House about what they need, in terms of support or barrier busting.
You’ve had a long career. What was it like getting up to speed at OMB?
So there are aspects of OMB's operations that are very “inside of OMB” as they work across the federal government to prioritize some of these initiatives we're talking about. Like any federal agency, they will have their own language, their own processes, their own way of meeting.
I've been part of two presidential transitions, first inside of OMB and then on the outside coming in as the Biden administration got started. No one gives a transition briefing like OMB career staffers. They really know how to catch you up to speed on the scores of laws that OMB is responsible for implementing. It also was clear to me that unlike OSTP, which is staffed primarily by people on a short tour of service, I was surrounded by professionals for whom OMB was their home. They're spending decades there serving the American people. So I had to bring a degree of humility, and know that they would almost always know more about any given subject than what I would know. It’s an honor to work alongside folks like that.
If you could give your past self advice on being as effective as possible in OSTP and OMB, what would you say?
There are days when the federal government moves so much slower than you ever think it will. And there are days when it moves so much faster. And both are true. You have to be ready at any given moment. A lot of the folks I know have been working on their policy priorities. When I was chief of staff at OSTP, I would work with our team to advance their policy priorities. In some cases, these are things people have been trying to get done for years. All of a sudden, on a given morning, a window would open up, a door would open up. And so you have to be ready.
One of the best tips is to come in with your point of view and your ideas about what should get done, to have those [ideas] written down, and to have those written down in a variety of lengths that are appropriate for different audiences. The one sentence version, the one paragraph version, the two pager. There's nothing more powerful than a two- to three-page memo, well written, that proposes an idea up a policy chain.
Be ready for that window to open, because it could truly come at any moment. If you look at some of the progress made on some of these pieces of legislation, they moved very quickly when they moved, but it took years to move them. That very fast and very slow lesson is my top takeaway.
I know you're a fan of more prizes and grand challenges. If you were rebalancing our STEM philanthropic portfolio, would you shift the tools we use away from grants and contracts?
I would recharacterize your characterization of what I'm a fan of. I am a fan of a more diversified set of approaches and mechanisms, and those things getting used for the problems they're right for. Prizes are not right for every technology question. Neither are grand challenges. But it is certainly true that all too often the federal government, through its procurement and acquisition processes, and through grants and other financial assistance, is paying too much for ideas on paper and for proposals, and not enough for proven performance.
So it’d be good if we could increase the number of federal program managers and acquisition professionals who are super comfortable – and I would also apply this to to philanthropists on the outside of government – defining problems, making those problems known, and then paying money for performance once proven, whether through advanced market commitments, or prizes, or grand challenge grant programs.
As long as what you're doing is using those dollars as wisely as possible to engage the most solvers possible. That's the other aspect here. It's not just about paying for performance. It's also about creating a more open ecosystem where we can tap into more of the nation's innovators, entrepreneurs, academics to make a more inclusive enterprise. So I'm also a fan of these approaches for that reason, they bring in new faces to the technology development process.
It seems like we could be using many more prizes than we do today. Why is this an uphill battle?
I think it is truly because many people have not been trained on problem definition. It’s hard to frame the question you are wrestling with in terms of a problem statement that others can understand and act on. That is a hard skill.
And it is equally hard to design methods for technology evaluation, right for the judging process, essentially, that can be collaborative that people are going to agree with, that they're not going to fight, that are as objective as possible and not subjective
I think the second reason would be familiarity. There are 40,000 acquisition professionals in the federal government that are trained in using traditional procurement approaches. They receive a very minor amount of training in these other types of approaches that fall outside of the federal acquisition regulation, in comparison to all their other professional development.
Fear of failure is another reason. There are absolutely prizes that have failed to yield winners. Most of the well-designed prizes that still failed [to award a winner] would tell you that progress was made, even if the prize wasn't won, and they can point to the progress that has resulted. And sometimes they have ended up offering a follow-on competition that is even better designed for the state of the technology.
But it is hard in federal government to fail on any front, and our oversight environment does not encourage failure. It feels much less risky to fund a proposal on paper.
It sounds like if you're funding something through traditional procurement methods, and it doesn't pan out, the blame is external?
The contractor may have failed, right? You can blame the performer.
What advice would you give a young policy entrepreneur who is just now hearing about the roles that the past two agencies you've been at play in the policy process?
Join an existing community practice on these types of approaches. If you're not into prizes and challenges, you might be into other forms of open innovation like crowdsourcing and citizen science, and there are communities of practice in the federal government for those as well.
Read and be curious. A lot has been written on this, whether it's OSTP's biennial reports to Congress on prizes, whether it is the toolkits and resources that GSA has on Challenge.gov, or some of the third-party analysis that I've mentioned here. There's also a great IDA report on grand challenges that gives background on how federal agencies have offered those.
Meet somebody who's done this before, and ideally pick somebody who's gone after a challenge with similar attributes in terms of the technology maturity level, the market they were going after, etc. Learn the lessons they learned.
My favorite advice is to befriend your counsel, your attorneys. If they are comfortable with your approach early, they're more likely to support you when you run into the bumps along the way that these out-of-the-box approaches inevitably stimulate. Bring your general counsel along with you on the journey, especially in the federal government.
Is there anything else I should have asked you?
Someday perhaps we'll work together and build an organizational chart of the OMB management offices and why each of them are awesome. But I think we've talked about a few of them in the context of actual implementation here today.