Background and Rationale
On September 30th, 2015, the White House office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, "Addressing Societal and Scientific Challenges through Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing." This memorandum outlines principles that agencies should apply in order to ensure future use of citizen science and crowdsourcing, and directs agencies to "catalogue agency-specific citizen science and crowdsourcing projects on a government-wide online database and website-- to be developed by the General Services Administration (GSA)."
In 2014, the Commons Lab at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (The Wilson Center) began compiling a database of Federal Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing projects in collaboration with the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (CCS) and OSTP.
The current version of this catalog is compiled and maintained through a partnership between GSA and the Wilson Center. The purpose of this catalog is to improve cross-agency collaboration, reveal opportunities for new high-impact projects, and make it easier for volunteers to find out about projects they can join. Along with a Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit and a CCS Community of Practice Site, the catalog is an important tool in accelerating the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science within the US government.
About Federal Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing
The catalog contains information about federal citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. In citizen science, the public participates voluntarily in the scientific process, addressing real-world problems in ways that may include formulating research questions, conducting scientific experiments, collecting and analyzing data, interpreting results, making new discoveries, developing technologies and applications, and solving complex problems. In crowdsourcing, organizations submit an open call for voluntary assistance from a group of individuals for online, distributed problem solving.
Projects in the catalog must meet the following criteria:
- The project addresses societal needs or accelerates science, technology, and innovation consistent with a Federal agency’s mission.
- Project outcomes include active management of data and data quality.
- Participants serve as contributors, collaborators or co-creators in the project.
- The project solicits engagement from individuals outside of a discipline’s or program’s traditional participants in the scientific enterprise.
- Beyond practical limitations, the project does not seek to limit the number of participants or partners involved.
- The project is opt-in; participants have full control over the extent that they participate.
- The US Government enables or enhances the project via funding or providing an in-kind contribution. The US Government's in-kind contribution to the project may be active or passive, formal or informal.
Adding and Validating Projects
The information provided in this catalog is voluntarily contributed by project leaders or their representatives. As such, the catalog may not reflect all projects funded by federal agencies or other sponsors. Citizen science and crowdsourcing projects that are not already included in the catalog, but meet the above criteria, can be added through the Add a Project form.
If a federal agency is listed in association with a project, this indicates that at some point the project received funding from, collaborated with, or was run by a federal agency. After a project is submitted to the catalog, a federal employee will validate agency involvement. Some agencies may also validate the data about a citizen science or crowdsourcing project.
Data and content created by government employees within the scope of their employment are not subject to domestic copyright protection under 17 U.S.C. §105. Data accessed through the Federal Catalog do not, and should not, include controls over its end use. Once data have been downloaded or pulled from this site, neither GSA nor the Wilson Center can vouch for their quality or timeliness. Furthermore, neither GSA nor the Wilson Center can vouch for any analysis conducted with data retrieved from this database.
The Wilson Center is developing APIs to support data access and sharing.
For more information on the Federal Catalog please contact Anne Bowser, firstname.lastname@example.org.