Why government IT departments should host hackathons

With so many issues to deal with and new technologies to adopt, government IT workers are often pressed for time when it comes to innovation. Whether they're focused on bolstering the cybersecurity of valuable hardware from attacks or dealing with unexpected issues that arise, federal employees often already have a full plate.

However, that doesn't stop government systems from aging, making an upgrade or advancement every now and then necessary to keep pace with the current trends or demands. Thankfully, government agencies have a host of talent with experience in a variety of fields they can take advantage of. If federal bureaus host hackathons, they can gather programmers and developers from outside of their organization to bring new ideas and perspectives to current problems government IT departments are struggling with.

A new way to solve an old problem
All around the world, government-sponsored hackathons are growing in popularity and producing beneficial results using the vast swathes of data organizations have collected but haven't yet had the opportunity to utilize, according to Startup Smart.

What was once an unknown aspect of the industry is now a large, public event with publicity that draws the attention of hackers from all over and with different skill sets. This collaboration with specific purposes in mind not only enables people to develop new ideas for widespread practical use, but does so without the need of government IT departments to stretch their budgets.

Rather than taking up the time of federal employees, agencies can open up their data and goals to the public so people can come together to find the best possible solution to common issues. Even the White House is spurring innovation on climate change by hosting hackathons to tackle the dilemma with new methods, tools and tactics, reported the Tech Republic.

There are many developers that would love to help with common nation-wide problems, but have trouble gaining access to the information needed to create any viable answers. When government groups make their extensive data open for everyday people to use, local developers can come up with their own fixes using whatever measures they can think of.

With an issue as large as climate change, it can be hard for federal IT workers to address the issue in a timely or effective manner using the limited staff and resources they have at their disposal. Making a problem open to the public enables people to break up an obstacle into smaller pieces that are easier to manage, the source asserted. Outside programmers can then work on their own smaller section, contributing to the greater solution.

How government IT can host a successful hackathon
​Rather than hosting a hackathon just for the sake of having one, government organizations need to have a goal they're looking to accomplish if they want to see the best results, stated GovLoop.
One of the first preparations federal IT departments should make before an event is brainstorming on a theme or problem that needs to be solved.

By listing out all the ideas of employees, agencies can spot patterns and common issues that might deserve the most immediate attention, added the source.

If there are any industry leaders organizations know of or have been keeping their eye on, groups can invite them specifically to see their take on the challenge and what ideas they have to remedy it. This not only brings in an outside voice that may offer new insights, but could potentially act as a recruiting tool for government IT departments to bring in additional expertise to the team.

Government IT service management can not only control issues that are too big for them to handle alone, but also potentially grow their department with qualified workers and diverse advantages.