White House urges entrepreneurs, technologists to ‘hack for change’

The White House is hoping to enlist the help of hackers in its quest to drive innovation within federal, state and local governments.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy announced Tuesday the first National Day of Civic Hacking, which is scheduled to take place June 1-2, 2013.

“Civic Hacking Day is an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly-released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans,” said Brian Forde and Nicholas Skytland, in a post on the White House blog.

Forde is the senior adviser to the U.S. CTO for Mobile and Data Innovation, and Skytland is the program manager of NASA’s Open Innovation Program.

“While civic hacking communities have long worked to improve our country and the world, this summer will mark the first time local developers from across the Nation unite around the shared mission of addressing and solving challenges relevant to OUR blocks, OUR neighborhoods, OUR cities, OUR states, and OUR country,” said Forde and Skytland.

The event is being sponsored by various government agencies and nonprofit organizations, as well as the investment firm Innovation Endeavors.

Agencies involved include NASA, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor. Sponsoring organizations include Code for America, Random Hacks of Kindness, Institute for the Future, Second Muse and Geeks Without Borders.

The agencies participating are offering a number of challenges for the developers to complete during the event.

Thirty cities are currently participating in the event, although the goal is to have a city from each of the 50 states.

“These partners will support Civic Hacking Day by hosting activities across the country that invite anyone to become part of the civic hacker community—whether you’re a newbie or an expert—and by  connecting people in person or online during the weekend celebration,” said Forde and Skytland.

Follow Josh on Twitter