FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE SIGN UP
Q: Where can my office sign up to host a Challenge?
A: Click on this link to register! (Updated for 2023)
Q: What happens after we sign up?
A: The CAC’s Congressional Operations Coordinator will be in touch.
If you do not receive an e-mail from the CAC’s Congressional Operations Coordinator within 3 business days, please e-mail [email protected].
Q: What official resources are my office allowed to use to run this Challenge?
A: You are allowed to use all MRA resources, as long as the use is handbook-compliant.
The Members’ Congressional Handbook lists the resources offices can use under “officially-sanctioned competitions.” These rules were put in place by Committee Resolution 114. Your office is allowed to use any of the following MRA resources, as long as the use is handbook-compliant:
- The Frank, provided the content of such communication is frankable;
- Advertisements that are otherwise compliant with Handbook and Franking regulations;
- Food and Beverage expenses that are otherwise compliant with Handbook regulations;
- Rental of rooms, chairs, and audio systems that are otherwise compliant with Handbook regulations;
- Gifts and donations that are otherwise compliant;
- Staff time and the use of incidental resources;
- Use of letterhead and official seal of the House by the Member Office, provided such letterhead and seal are not used for solicitations;
- Mileage; and
- Member official web site and social media.
Q: Are there resources we can use besides our MRA?
The coordinator of the competition strives to make executing the Congressional App Challenge as straightforward and simple as possible. We have put together a toolkit, flyer, and social media graphics that will help each office implement the challenge with ease. These resources will be made live in the coming weeks and will be updated throughout the Challenge.
Q. How do students submit their apps? Where?
A: Follow this link to the registration page.
Here is a summary of the student submission process:
- Check eligibility.
- Create an app.
- Create a demonstration video.
- Review the Submission Checklist.
- Register online and submit app by November 1st, 2023.
- Complete the Exit Questionnaire.
Q. How will Congressional Offices get the apps that students submit?
A: Student submissions will available in your Congressional App Challenge review portal.
After your offices signs up, your primary office contact will be registered in our application engine as the official reviewer for your office. They will be able to view applications and select your district’s winner.
Q. Can we check how many students have signed up?
A: There is no way to get an up-to-date tally until the end of the contest, though you will receive an email each time a team submits their application.
Q. What type of apps can the students submit?
A: Students may create any type of app on any platform in any programming language.
IEF does not limit the type of app students may create. This challenge is platform and topic-agnostic. That said, if an office would like to set a theme for their district, they may do so. If your office chooses to set a theme, contact our Congressional Operations Coordinator to discuss your plan.
Q. Are there examples of video submissions from last year that we can share with students?
Q. Will the winning students get any prizes?
A: Yes. For 2023 the confirmed list of prizes include:
- Winning app eligible to be featured in the Capitol Building
- Winning app eligible to be put on House.gov (10 million visitors per year)
- Invitation to the #HouseOfCode celebration
- Waived copyright registration application fees through the ARTS Act
- Additional Prizes TBA
Q. Can we (Congressional Offices) ask for donations?
A: Yes. Offices may ask for donations for private financial or in-kind support for the Congressional App Challenge. The Ethics Committee has created a waiver specifically for such solicitations. as long as they’ve completed the Ethics Committee waiver and received permission. Once the waiver process is completed, the waiver for STEM Competitions is good year after year as long as the Member is in the House.
“A Member may only solicit donations (including in-kind) on behalf of the officially-sanctioned competition if the Member first receives written approval from the Committee on Ethics.” (See Members’ Handbook on “officially-sanctioned competitions“)
Q. Can an organization donate a prize to student participants or the winner?
A: Yes, within certain rules.
- Donations worth $50 or less: Organizations may offer to donate prizes worth less than $50 to the student participants and/or winners of the Congressional App Challenge. IMPORTANT: Prizes shall not be directed to the Member’s office; instead, it should be directed to the entrants and winners of the competition. Examples of such prizes might include:
- A $50 gift certificate donated by a local business to the winner of the Congressional App Challenge in a specific district.
- Three gift certificates worth $25, $15 and $10 gift are donated by a local organization to the first, second and third place winners of their district’s App Challenge. (Totaling $50).
- A tour of a local business organized and hosted by that organization.
- NOT ALLOWED: An organization donates three $50 gift certificates (Totaling $150) for the top three winners. This would violate the $50 limit.
- Donations worth more than $50: Each Member who elects to host a Challenge must agree to direct any donations in the form of (a) technical assistance with the competition, or (b) prizes for the entrants and winners of the competition, to the sponsor if the value of the donation or donations from a single source is more than $50. This is to ensure fairness across the country. For example, if you want to donate tickets (valued over $50) to an event for the winner, you must be willing to make that prize available to all the winners from across the country.
Q. Can our office host a STEM-related event in the district for students?
A: Yes, and you should!
Congressional offices are allowed to hold events as long as they comply with the requirements set forth by the Congressional Handbook. You are absolutely encouraged to host a hackathon or some other coding-related educational event, as long as it’s handbook-compliant. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions about how to go about setting up an event.
Q. Can we ask people to serve as judges, or is that soliciting?
A: Yes, you can ask people to serve as judges.
Asking someone to serve as a judge for your Challenge is not considered soliciting.
Q. What kinds of people should we ask to serve as judges?
We recommend having a diverse selection of judges who have basic familiarity with computer programming.
The judges cannot have a conflict of interest and there should be an odd number, in the case of a tie. Listed below are some suggestions for the type of people you might ask. Remember, these are simply suggestions. Feel free to think creatively.
- A Computer Science Professor or College Student from a local university
- A tech entrepreneur
- A local celebrity related to STEM education
- An employee at a tech-related company in the district
Q. When should we start looking for judges?
A: As soon as you’re signed up and ready!
Q. Do we need to tell IEF who our judges are?
IEF needs to track judge recruitment to make sure offices are on track and to make sure that judging panels have been appropriately selected. Once your judges have been selected, you must record them on your Congressional District Information Sheet.
Q. I’m worried about finding the right kinds of judges, fast enough. What can I do?
A: IEF has you covered.
IEF recruits judges on a national level who will be able to step in and provide assistance if you are unable to find judges in time. We highly recommend that you find your own judges, as this is a great opportunity for your office to interact with local STEM professionals in your district, but if you need help, we’re happy and able to assist you.
Q. What do Congressional offices need to give the judges?
A: The links to the student Demonstration Videos, as well as the grading rubric you’ve chosen to use.
After the Congressional App Challenge ends, offices will be able to see their submissions on the Congressional District Information Sheet. You can then copy that information and send it to your judges, along with the grading rubric to your judges for review. DO NOT give your judges access to the Congressional District Information Sheet. Simply copy the information and send it to them in a clean document.
- Here is a sample judging rubric. In addition to this rubric for the judges, you will need to include the links to the app videos.
Q. When is #HouseofCode?
A. #HouseOfCode is held at the Capitol each Spring.
Q. Can we pay for our winners to come to #HouseOfCode to demo their app?
A. Unfortunately, no.
Per House Administration rules, the MRA can’t be used to pay for student travel. Mileage and incidental expense reimbursement is permitted for Member/staff.
The costs for travel is the responsibility of the student.