Data Sharing Behind DOL App Development Contests

Two contests with a total of $70,000 in prizes available were announced July 14. One is for apps to increase the public's awareness of data from OSHA and the Wage and Hour Division.

Apps that will make the public more aware of and more willing to use OSHA and Wage and Hour Division data are the goal of a contest announced July 14 by the U.S. Department of Labor's Deputy Secretary Seth Harris in a post on its Work in Progress blog. Actually, there are two app development contests, each of which offers a prize of as much as $35,000.

"Too many people are struggling to get their foot in the door on the job. Too many workers face unsafe or unhealthy workplaces. And too many workers fear what might happen if they speak up about back wages, overtime pay, or simply being treated fairly under the law. These are big challenges for our nation’s workers, and they require innovative ideas from all over the country to tackle them," Harris wrote.

He explained that DOL agencies generate "mountains of data on enforcement actions, employment, unemployment, wages, and other topics" that could be useful for job seekers, workers seeking to better their skills, and "consumers who want to know that the businesses they use value safe, healthy, and fair workplaces. We know this data is valuable," Harris continued, "but we also know that we haven't thought of every way to put it in the hands of the American people -— at home, at the office, or on the go."

The two contests have been launched on www.challenge.gov. Winners will be those who develop the most innovative applications using DOL data already available to the public:

  • The Occupational Employment Statistics app challenge involves Bureau of Labor Statistics data; the challenge is to make it more accessible and actionable.
  • The informAction app challenge involves OSHA and Wage and Hour Division data. "We are looking for innovative ways to deliver this data that will increase public awareness of the laws enforced by DOL to ensure fair and safe workplaces. Consumers and workers should be able to view inspection and compliance information from the hotels, motels, restaurants and retail stores they shop at, and use it to take educated action," he explained.

Developers can find help at http://developer.dol.gov that will make it easier to incorporate DOL data into software thorough Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDKs). Submissions are due by Sept. 14.

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