Sunlight Foundation

The Winners

Check out our Design for America winners, all of the entries and our video of winners announcement:


Sunlight Labs is pleased to announce our latest contest — “Design for America.” This 10 week long design and data visualization extravaganza is focused on connecting the talents of art and design communities throughout the country to the wealth of government data now available through bulk data access and APIs, and to help nurture the field of information visualization. Our goal is simple and straightforward — to make government data more accessible and comprehensible to the American public. We hope to enliven and engage new communities — just as we did with Apps for America 1 and 2 — as partners and participants in making government information more engaging to the American public. Our contest will end with a public announcement of the winners at Gov 2.0 Expo here in Washington, DC in May, in partnership with O’Reilly and TechWeb, and with a public gallery showing of the winners.

Presently, we’re securing sponsorship for each category, and will be announcing our sponsors as agreements are made. When those agreements are made, we will announce the prize money for each category. If you’re interested in sponsorship, please contact us.

There’s an “artist” inside all of us so we’re creating multiple entry categories so that contestants have an opportunity to show off their skills wherever they are most comfortable. There’s room for all kinds of folks to participate — artists, data visualizers, specialists in info graphs and usability experts — to name a few.

Here are the categories:

Data Visualization

Data Visualizations distill complex datasets into easily understandable graphics, pictures, or videos. The Data Visualization category is about taking large datasets provided by the Sunlight Foundation or by the Federal Government and making compelling visual stories out of them.
  • Visualizing Community Health Data: $5,000 Top Prize

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is promoting the development of innovative applications that improve the public’s understanding of community health performance. This contest is for the best interactive community health visualization that allows citizens to quickly and easily understand health performance in their communities and compare performance in their communities to others. Contestants are encouraged to select datasets from the HHS Community Health Data Initiative, which includes the following datasets: County Health Rankings, Community Health Status Indicators, Hospital Quality Compare, and Food Environment Atlas, among others. The visualizations should contribute toward the development of community health data dashboards that will enhance usability and understandability of health data for citizens and civic leaders. Entries will be judged based on how effectively, accurately, and creatively they enable users to gain insight about health performance in their communities as compared to others.

  • Data Visualization of Sunlight Community Data: $5,000 Top Prize

    The Sunlight Foundation and our partners release a lot of cleaned up, mashable, and query-able data about politics and influence. The Best Data Visualization of Sunlight Community data will include visualizations that tell interesting stories from one or more of these sources: Data.SunlightLabs.com, OpenCongress.org, ForeignLobbying.org, TransparencyData.com, LittleSis.org, MapLight.org, FollowTheMoney.org, or OpenSecrets.org,. Contestants may pick any dataset off of any of these websites. These visualizations can be in any medium you choose— infographics, motion art, videos, or interactives. Entries will be judged based on the visual quality of the art, how well the underlying information is conveyed, and the accuracy of the data presented.

    Judges: Andrew Vande Moere and TBD

  • Visualization of Data from the Federal Budget and/or USASpending.gov: $5,000 Top Prize

    The United States provides USASpending.gov to show people who is receiving money from the federal government and what that money is being spent on. At the same time, the government provides a [federal budget](ttp://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy11/index.html) that tells us how the money should be spent. Your visualization will provide insight into one or both of these datasets— you’ll help people understand the data better, tell an interesting story with the data inside of the website, or use it as an opportunity to point out what’s not in the data. Entries will be judged on the visual quality of the art, the story that’s being told, and the accuracy of the presentation.

    Judges: Nathan Yau and Charles Blow

    Sponsored by: Google

    Resource: USASpending.gov API

  • Visualization of Recovery.gov Data: $5,000 Top Prize

    Like USASpending.gov, Recovery.gov’s bulk data provides new ways to look at how the federal stimulus money is being spent. The best visualization of Recovery.gov data will provide insight into Recovery.gov’s data. You can go many different ways in this visualization: you can allow people to see how money is being spent, or data quality issues that Recovery.gov may have, or some other aspect of the data. Entries will be judged on the visual quality of the art, the story that's being told, and the accuracy of the data that's being presented based upon its original source.

    Resource: Recovery.gov Download Center

    Judges: Nicholas Felton and TBD

Process Transparency

“Process Transparency” is about showing citizens how the process of our government works. There are lots of arcane rules and processes inside our government that need visual reference or better understanding by citizens to improve the debate.
  • Visualization of How a Bill Becomes a Law: $5,000 Top Prize

    The legislative process is often difficult to understand. Who writes legislation? What do they use to write it? What happens when a bill goes to committee? When do Lobbyists talk to members about what they want? This process needs to be visualized in a way that is simple for an ordinary citizen to digest to truly understand it. How does a bill go from embryonic idea to the president’s desk? Entries will be judged on the accuracy and completeness of the visualization. Accuracy will be judged based on the details in this document.

    Judges: Lisa Strausfeld and John Wonderlich

    Sponsored by: Google

  • Visualization of Congressional Rules/Floor Procedures: $5,000 Top Prize

    The rules of the United States Congress are, at best, difficult to understand and at worst, take a lifetime in Congress to truly master. The winner of this contest will take the rules of the United States Congress (or segment thereof) or Floor Procedures and create a graphic representation of that information that is understandable and comprehendible by citizens. Entries will be judged on the accuracy of the visualization, the completeness of the visualization (how much of the rules or procedures were encompassed in the visualization), and by the quality (expression of the process and aesthetic) of the visualization itself. Documents on this website will help you understand the rules and procedures. Striking a balance between breadth and quality is important in this competition: trying to visualize too much will likely yield a low-quality visualization. Picking too small a portion of the rules or procedures will yield something non-compelling.

    Judges: Daniel Schuman, Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg

Redesigning the Government

Government isn’t accessible enough to the public online. If we’re going to advocate for government to be open with data, we need the intake and output of government to be designed well. This means well designed government websites and well designed government forms.
  • Redesign of a Government Form: $5,000 Top Prize

    Part of the problem with government data is that data intake often relies on paper forms with poor or arcane explanations of what fields are. The Best Redesign of a Government Form entry will take a government form— a lobbyist filing form, a tax form, any kind of form one must fill out to give data back to the government and redesign it. You can pick any federal government form to redesign, but the entry you submit must be an electronic form. Entries will be judged on the measured improvement between the current form and the new form, the ease of use of the new form, and the potential impact the adoption of the new form could have.

    Judges:Kevin Hale

  • Redesign of a .Gov website: $5,000 Top Prize

    Sunlight Labs has presented mock-up redesigns of several federal agency websites in an effort to get people from inside and outside the government to think about how .gov websites could look better. For example, check out our mockups of the FEC, the Supreme Court, the FEC the EPA and USA.gov. This category will be judged on the measured improvement between the proposed design and the current design, how accessible the current or proposed data an agency provides is, and the potential impact the new design could have on the agency’s ability to serve citizens. You may pick any website that ends in .gov— but remember that potential impact part of the judging criteria— our judges will be paying attention to the potential impact your design has on as many people as possible.

    Judges: Ali Felski and TBD

The Rules:

  • Your entry can come in any form of media

    It can be electronic, it can be a sculpture, it can be a movie, a poster, a print, a painting, a graph, or anything else you can think of. Judging, however, will be done electronically. So: should you decide to make a 40 foot sculpture as a submission in this contest, it's best that you also accompany that entry with an online video allowing our judges to best see it.

  • Your work must be "freed" at the end

    We want the transparency and open government community to be able to use your work at the end of this, but we also want you to get credit. All submissions must be licensed as Creative Commons By-Attribution, CC0, or an OSI approved license (if submitting code)

  • Eligibility

    With a few exceptions, anyone over the age of 18 that is eligible to fill out a 1099 tax form is eligible to enter and win this contest. As we are including our grantees and partners in this contests, so those that have actually worked as contractors, employees, or in any other capacity on those sites should not compete in that specific contest. Likewise, Sunlight Foundation employees and current direct contractors are not eligible at all in this contest.

  • How to Submit

    To submit your entry, create a new project on SunlightLabs.com and add “D4A” and the name of the category you’re entering it for as tags for your project. For example: “D4A, Redesign of a .Gov website”. You may submit as many entries in as many categories as you’d like, but note that an entry will only one category— you may not submit an entry into more than one category.

The Timeline

contest timeline

Over the next few weeks, we'll be announcing our panel of judges and sponsors. Submissions are due on May 17th at which point the Judges will begin reviewing the work. Then, on May 25th, we'll announce the winners.

May the best designer, artist, or visualizer win!

Looking for the other Design for America? Find them here.

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