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house Bill H.R. 1162

Should the Private Sector get to Contribute $$ to Federal Science Prize Competitions?

Argument in favor

Prize competitions are a great incentive for attracting participation in areas where innovation is needed. Partnering with the private sector will help make the competitions more enticing to participants.

Ezra's Opinion
As long as the awards are done on a non-biased matter and there is no further incentive, then a combination of efforts with the government and private sector can be successful.
Like (7)
forest's Opinion
Partnering with private sectors provide an incentive not always available in the government's capacity. This would be a great attractor to drive in innovation within these vital fields.
Like (3)
sethkenvin's Opinion
I mostly gag on public-private-"partnership" stuff, but it seems that if it's a prize contribution, but not a voice on what wins nor any sorts of privileged access to associated work, seems kind of palatable to me
Like (1)

Argument opposed

The federal government should probably re-assess some of its appropriations requests if its going to start outsourcing R&D activities. Also, a public website with federal science competitions already exists: Challenge.Gov

ThomasParker's Opinion
Eventually, the prizes will be given to the winners based on political reasons. The private sector does not need federal funding--it gets enough of that as it is.
Like (9)
countrudi's Opinion
This scarcely needs legislation. Business can reward independently unless legally prohibited.
Like (5)
Ed's Opinion
The private sector can take care of itself.
Like (3)

What is House Bill H.R. 1162?

Under current law, heads of federal agencies can run prize competitions to incentivize scientific and technological innovation in the U.S. This bill would clarify that federal agencies can partner with both nonprofit and for-profit entities in the private sector to support their competitions. The bill would also require that all competitions be broadcast to the public on a government website.

Partnerships with non-profit or private sector for-profit organizations means that those organizations can offer money and resources to these federally-sponsored competitions. Agencies would be prohibited from giving special consideration to any of these non-governmental entities in exchange for their donations.

These changes to science prize-competitions sponsored would come through changes to the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act. Information about these prize competitions would be made available on a publicly accessible government website. Agencies could waive this publication requirement, and log each usage of the waiver in an annual report with detailed explanations of why the waiver was granted.


Potential competitors in government-sponsored prize competitions, private sector for-profit and nonprofit organizations that might offer funding to a prize competition, federal agencies sponsoring prize competitions, technological and scientific advances in the U.S.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1162

A CBO cost estimate found that enacting this bill could affect direct spending — but based on how competitions are conducted, the CBO anticipates that it affects to the federal deficit would be be rare and insignificant.

More Information

Of Note: Currently, competitions for federal agencies are listed in the Federal Register. A website public website has also already been sponsored that lists all active competitions through federal agencies — known as

A report on the usage of federal prize competitions in 2013 found that over 280 competitions had been sponsored by over 45 federal agencies.


Summary by Eric Revell 

(Photo Credit: Flickr user GollyGforce - Living My Worst Nightmare


Science Prize Competitions Act

Official Title

To make technical changes to provisions authorizing prize competitions under the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
  • The house Passed May 19th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
    IntroducedFebruary 27th, 2015

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