GSA Blog

GSA Blog Logo
 Public Engagement with Science Summit

GSA brings together agencies to engage the public in science

| GSA Blog Team
Post filed in:  |  Technology

To share strategies for engaging the public in science and technology, GSA brought together leaders, advisors, and practitioners from 16 federal agencies recently.

EPA showed how citizen scientists can help the federal government map wildfires and their impact on public health, through Smoke Sense. NASA brought an Aurorasaurus, a site that crowdsources aurora sightings. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed how the public can track climate adaptation.

“Federal agencies play a critical role in creating avenues for robust science and technology  communication and public engagement to advance science and technology,” said Technology Transformation Service Director Ann Lewis. “This work is meaningful because it helps the government be open to new ideas and innovation, reduces barriers to participation for everyone, and is a key to understanding, trust, and discovery.”

The event - called Public Engagement with Science: Strategies for Federal Implementation Summit - was inspired by a letter sent to President Biden by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which focused on advancing public engagement with the sciences [PDF].

Prize competitions, public engagement forums, and citizen science research give the public an avenue to contribute to areas such as health, environment, national security, and the well-being of all Americans. 

Aurorasaurus, one of several initiatives discussed at the event, is a great example. On the site, citizens report aurora sightings around the world. Each verified report serves as a valuable data point for scientists to analyze and incorporate into space weather models.

More broadly, through programs like GSA’s and, GSA creates avenues for federal agencies to connect directly with the public. These are central hubs where people can find and learn about crowdsourcing, citizen science, and prize competitions across the federal government.

By supporting federal agencies who seek to engage the public in innovation and science activities, these sites help agencies reduce barriers and promote participation. The public can learn how to participate in research, from entering a prize competition sponsored by GSA to design more accessible federal buildings and facilities, to helping NASA analyze radio transmissions from outer space

There are projects for people of all ages. For example, the U.S. Forest Service’s Youth Forest Monitoring Program is a seven-week citizen science program for high school students during the summer. Students collect key forest health data from permanent monitoring sites on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. 

During the Summit, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced the release of the biennial report to Congress, Implementation of Federal Prize and Citizen Science Authority for Fiscal Years 21-22. This report covers the federal government’s prize competitions, crowdsourcing and citizen science initiatives issued under COMPETES and other authorities in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. 

Multiple GSA programs are partnering with the White House Office of Management and Budget on two opportunities for the public to inform the process and evaluation of public participation and community engagement. was established under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 and an amendment to COMPETES in 2017 gave rise to You can engage with a prize competition or citizen science activity on one of the many topics that align with your interests or learn more at and