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The Data Challenge facing government

Government has huge data assets, but often fails to make best use of them. We asked for the ideas of public servants across the workforce on how to improve our data systems and tools – and your help in taking the best ideas forward. The judges have now selected nine of those ideas for development by project teams of public service volunteers, who are currently researching them in preparation for May’s Semi-Final.

How it works

The Data Challenge is a competition and employee development opportunity open to all federal public servants in Canada.

We sought ideas for improvements to the government’s use of data, and have formed teams of volunteers to develop the most promising proposals. At the end of the first stage of research, teams will present their ideas to the judging panel at the Semi-Final. There, some will be selected to move onto the second stage, culminating in a Final event at which the best will be chosen: given additional resources and high-level support, the strongest ideas will be well-placed to move towards implementation.

Applications for the 2023-24 programme are now closed. Thank you to all those who submitted an idea or volunteered to get involved.

Learn more

The process

Stage 1

  • Put forward your ideas on how to use data more effectively. Ideas need not be well-developed or researched: just set out your concept in our simple form, and we’ll identify those with greatest potential and help you take them forward.

Stage 2

  • Join a team to develop one of the most promising ideas, assessing viability and quantifying the potential costs and benefits;
  • Pitch to the judges at the Semi-Final, and answer their questions;
  • Judges choose the strongest ideas to move on to the next stage.

Stage 3

  • Further develop and refine your data use case, with technical support from digital and data specialists;
  • Pitch to the judges at the Final event, showing how you’ve addressed their previous questions;
  • The best idea will receive additional resources and support for continued development, with the program’s Champions guiding it towards implementation.

Judging criteria

To what extent is the idea…

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Likely to improve the experience of public service users or the tools used by public servants?

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Likely to generate a high return on investment, with the benefits for citizens, staff and/or taxpayers substantially greater than the costs?

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Deliverable, with likely obstacles assessed and addressed?

Innovation icon

Innovative and exemplary in its use of data and technology?

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Replicable/scalable, with potential applications across government?

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In line with the goals of public service modernisation, departmental priorities and the ethical use of data?


24 October 2023

Program open for idea submission and participant applications

December 13th, 2023 ** EXTENDED DEADLINE**

Close applications and commence review

February 2024

Agree long-listed applications and teams formed

May 2024

Shortlist event and development of finalist idea commences

September 2024

Final event to select and announce winner

Applications for the 2023-2024 programme are now closed – thank you to all those who submitted an idea or volunteered to get involved.