First GEAR Center challenge winners focus on expanding cyber workforce, improving use of data

Ideas highlight the importance of developing a cybersecurity workforce, and using data for more effective governance.
Business process management automation concept using internet technology and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to improve productivity and efficiency, businessman touching computer screen, AR gears

Programs related to the federal workforce and government data are the three inaugural winners of the Government Effectiveness Advanced Research (GEAR) Center challenge.

The General Services Administration and White House Office of Management and Budget unveiled the winning teams Tuesday. Each has received a $300,000 prize. The winners:

• A cybersecurity workforce team that envisions a federal program to bring in “neurodiverse” individuals, including those with autism, to fill available cyber positions. The team is made up of representatives from a truly long list of academic and industry organizations — George Mason University, Mercyhurst University, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, Drexel University, SAP, Specialisterne, DXC Dandelion Program and the MITRE Corporation.

• A partnership between SkillSource Group and Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc., that wants to integrate currently disparate data in order to be able to assess the results of joint service delivery programs — that is, when multiple levels of government, or multiple agencies at one level, combine to provide a service. They plan to build on existing “state data integration efforts” to make this happen. “Currently, data on federally funded workforce, education, and human services programs are too often held in siloes that prevent local, state, and federal agencies from assessing the true impact of their joint service delivery,” a description of the project says.


• A  team from Johns Hopkins University Centers for Civic Impact, the Volcker Alliance’s Government-to-University Initiative and the Mid-America Regional Council that intends to help the federal workforce improve its use of data, starting with 250 “federal practitioners” in Kansas City.

The GEAR Center challenge, launched in May, solicited ideas on how to solve at least one of the challenges the government faces as identified in the President’s Management Agenda. The idea is that the competition serves as a way for the government to get a sense for the “feasibility” of the GEAR Center model before it invests in the concept further.

“The GEAR Center was conceived as a way to promote innovation in support of the President‘s Management Agenda,” OMB’s Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert said in a statement. “GEAR Center Challenge submissions are promising examples of how innovative public-private partnerships can transform government mission delivery, service to citizens and stewardship. The GEAR Center is already creating incentives for cross-sector collaborations that will better serve the American people.”

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