Army readies second apps challenge

The Army will open its next Apps for Army challenge to industry and the public, officials said Friday. The process is focused on developing capabilities that ar...

By Jared Serbu
Federal News Radio

The Army’s second version of its Apps for Army competition will expand beyond the Army itself, inviting submissions from developers in industry and the public, officials said Friday.

The first competition, designed to test whether the Army could overcome the Defense Department’s sluggishness in developing and fielding new software applications, was open only to Army uniformed members and civilians.

The goal was to create a process that could deliver new capability within as little as 90 days. Fifty three applications had been submitted by the time the contest closed in May 2010, and 25 ultimately made it through the Army Chief Information Officer’s software certification process.

“In 2010 the Apps for the Army challenge provided a venue for internal Army early adopters and innovators,” Gary Blohm, the Army CIO’s lead for Army software transformation said in a statement provided by the Army. “This time the Army wants to tap into industry, and not just for its well-known app development capabilities, but to help them look at new ways to broaden third party participation in the marketplace.”

It remained unclear how the second challenge would interact with existing government acquisition regulations. The Army CIO’s office said it was “designing prototype monetization business models and addressing intellectual property rights.”

The challenge will focus not only on mobile applications developed for systems such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, but on cross-platform capabilities that can be utilized regardless of the device that is used to access them.

“Our ability to adopt more agile practices and processes is based on the ongoing collapse and standardization of computing environments,” Blohm said. “This means we are looking to establish an online capability that can support applications that are accessed by a variety of devices across diverse mission areas.”

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