Green Gov Challenge

As the state deals with the effects of environmental change and the drought, California government seeks to find innovative ways to reduce waste in resources and increase sustainable practices. As part of the Innovation Contest (AB 2138- Gatto), the Government Operations Agency and the Department of General Services are looking for innovative solutions that will help California improve its sustainable operations and engage with the public. We want the public to leverage the pilot Statewide Open Data Portal and use publicly available data sources to help citizens and decision makers understand the state’s progress on achieving sustainability goals and to help policymakers and implementers inside state government make informed decisions.  

Drawing at least one data set available through the pilot Statewide Open Data Portal, this innovation contest will focus on creating apps, visualizations, and other tools that can help improve government sustainability practices. Contestants should be able to harness and visualize data sets to empower citizens and policy makers with data to evaluate the progress of each department toward established sustainability goals that will lead to better informed policy and implementation decisions.  

Learn more about the contest.

See the event flyer.

Visually engaging sustainability tools could include, but not be limited, a dashboard that:

  • Reports departments’ progress toward established sustainability goals.
  • Incorporates as many of the data sets provided as possible, as well as other publicly available data sources.
  • Automatically updates as data sets in data portal are updated.

$25,000 in prize money will be awarded by the following breakdown:

  • $10,000 for the first place winner
  • $7,500 for the second place winner
  • $5,000 for the third place winner
  • $2,500 for the People’s Choice 

Registration begins Sept. 1.

Agenda and Event Details

Code-a-thon Tentative Agenda:

Saturday, October 24

 8:30 – Doors Open/Registration/Breakfast

 9:00 – Welcome & Overview of the Day

 9:10 – Remarks from Partners, Stakeholders, and Sponsors TBD

 9:30 – Coder Introductions and team formation

10:00 – Tech Talks + Data Introductions

10:45 – Brainstorming & Coding begins!

12:00 – Lunch

 3:00 – Check-in-- bounce your ideas off an expert

 5:30 – Dinner is served!

 6:30 – Zigg Closes...Coding on your own


Sunday, October 25 

 8:30 – Doors Open / Breakfast

 9:00 – Continue coding...

12:00 – Lunch!

 1:00 – Last chance to submit your project!

 1:30* - Final Code-A-Thon 3-min presentations and judging

 3:30* - Judge Deliberation

 4:30* – Winners Announced/ Closing Remarks from sponsors


*Subject to change

Contestant Eligibility, Terms and Submission Requirements

  •      Must register as an individual or team lead (teams no bigger than six people). At least one team member is required to be present at the code-a-thon.

  •      Submissions have to be built, even partially, during the code-a-thon event. Submissions can be rough--anything from wireframes or functioning websites/apps work.

  •       Must use at least one data set from the Open Data Portal (to be shared with contestants once it goes live)

  •       Must submit their submission code to the Github account (provided the day of the event).

  •       Must submit a PowerPoint of no more than five slides in PDF or PPTX format. Teams may present any material of their choosing in their three minute time slot - sidekicks, videos, demos, etc. - but live demos are preferred. 

  •       Winners will receive their prize money at the check ceremony in early December. If a winner and called upon DGS, contestant must be willing to engage with DGS up to a month after the code-a-thon to provide feedback on further development of their project and ideas for implementation.


The Contest is open to residents of the state of California and individuals who are 18 years of age or older as of the date of entry. Pursuant to California Government Code Section 12045, individuals employed by the state of California are not eligible to enter.

Contest Timeline

  • Aug. 25 - Innovation Contest Launch

  • September to October 15 - Registration Period

  • Oct. 24-25 - Code-a-thon, Presentations, and Judging

  • November - If selected, Winning teams discuss further Development/Implementation Plan

  • December - Recognition and Check Ceremony

Parking and Other Accommodations


Event parking is available in the traffic circle in front of the Ziggurat on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional parking is available in the Ziggurat’s parking garage for $2.00 an hour or $15.00 per day with NO in and out privileges; cash is the only accepted form of payment. Parking is also available in the Old Sacramento parking structure. Some limited street parking on the city streets surrounding the building may also be available.


Contest Judges

Randall Winston

Acting Executive Director

California Strategic Growth Council

Daniel C. Kim, Director
California, Department of General Services

Christopher Cabaldon
Mayor, West Sacramento

Anne Neville
California Research Bureau, California State Library

Gina Lujan
Social Entrepreneur. Founding CEO
Hacker Lab and Code For Hood

Amy Tong
Chief Deputy Director and Agency Chief Information Officer
CA Health and Human Services Agency, Office of Systems Integration

Scott Gregory
CA Deputy Director, Geospatial Information Systems
California, Department of Technology


Judging Criteria

Participants will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Effective use of data sets from the Open Data Portal. (Teams are welcome to use data from other sources as well.): (20 points)

    •       Do you use data sets from the Open Data portal? Do you incorporate relevant data sets not currently on or the portal? Did you use any of the ESRI GIS mapping tools? Does the concept address any of the Governor's sustainability goals? Could it significantly improve or potentially replace current practice? Would decision makers use it? 


  • Innovation and creativity: (20 points)

    •       Is your goal clearly stated and unique? Is there real-world potential to produce a breakthrough or a major change that would improve the state’s operational improvements in sustainability? Does your project tackle a problem that has been overlooked/ignored in the past, or attack a problem with a new angle / on a bigger scale / on a higher level? Does your goal focused on a definable business problem? 


  • User-friendliness, usability and interface: (30 points)

    •       Is it easy to navigate and intuitive? Does it significantly improve the data visualizations in the existing green buildings website?  Is it inclusive of all audiences? Does is address 508 compliance needs per the ADA? 


  • Feasibility of implementation: (30 points)

    •       Does the concept appear to be practical and effective? Does it work as is, or does it require additional resources (code or data?) Do you address potential needs/challenges? Does it operate on multiple computing platforms?


  • Code for Sacramento

  • Department of General Services

  • Department of Technology

  • Government Operations Agency 

  • Governor's Office

      Participants should consider the following:

  •       Enabling users to access the finest granularity of data possible. Examples include individual facility data and rolled up department level data.

  •       Displaying information in a way that easily conveys progress and areas of needed improvement.

  •       Provides the finest temporal granularity available in the data.  An example includes monthly, rather than annual utility usage.     

  •       OTech provides a guide on the WebTools website, Accessibility section at Also see right navigation “Testing Resources” for Content, Browsers, Applications. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998  is at the Federal level and is outdated. They are currently going through a Section 508 refresh. The standard is WCAG 2.0 level II. 


  • Code for Sacramento: We will partner with Code for Sacramento and reach out to the brigades in San Francisco and Oakland to spread the word about the contest. Code for Sacramento will serve as an advisory role throughout our planning process.

  • CA Pilot Open Data Portal: We will contact registered participants once the portal goes live. We also strongly encourage that you seek additional data sources and share them here.

  • Sustainability Goals: This document summarizes some of the Governor’s sustainability goals.

Terms and Conditions

Please read the Terms and Conditions prior to submitting your entry.
Connect with DGS
twitter facebook youtube DGS Newswire