Home » About the Data Challenge and entry criteria

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. Thank you to everyone who applied to participate! The Challenge is now closed to new applications, and we are reviewing the ideas in advance of the first judges’ meeting in September

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 will form teams of volunteers to develop the eight 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, half of them 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 idea will be well-placed to move towards implementation.

The process

Stage 1: Complete

  • 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: Underway

  • Join a team to develop one of the eight 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 four 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 lives of citizens or the tools used by public servants?

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

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Deliverable, with likely obstacles assessed and addressed?

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Innovative and exemplary in its use of data and technology?

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Replicable and scalable, with potential applications across government?

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


Jan / Feb 2022

Briefing of Champions and Advocates

23 February 2022

Launch of program at government data conference

April 2022

Program open for idea submission and participant applications

Friday 24 June 2022

Close applications and commence review

July / Aug 2022

Agree long-listed applications and teams formed

October 2022

Initial session for development of ideas

November 2022

Shortlist event and development of final four ideas commences

February 2023

Final event to select and announce winner

Information for managers

Before applying to participate, public servants had to secure your manager’s approval. It is likely that during the course of the program, some participants may change jobs or begin working for new managers. If that’s the case, you may wish to direct your new manager to the Information for managers page. If they have further questions, they are welcome to contact us.