The CIO Council is running a code challenge. Why?

Could this be a new way for the government to recruit qualified IT talent?
(Getty Images)

Earlier this month, without uttering more than a couple tweets, the Federal CIO Council launched a code challenge.

The pilot initiative, which the CIO Council hopes will help the federal government “recruit the best qualified IT talent,” will run in three consecutive challenges this summer testing front end, DevOps and core computer science skills.

The front end challenge is currently live — it runs until June 9. The challenges are open to all participants — both existing federal employees and the general public, a CIO Council spokesperson told FedScoop.

So what’s a code challenge and why is the government doing one?


In the private sector, code challenges are often used as recruiting and skill screening mechanisms for tech companies. A job applicant, for example, may be asked to complete a code challenge as part of his or her application. HackerRank, the code challenge platform that the CIO Council is using for this pilot, boasts private customers like Airbnb, Uber and Dropbox.

“Practice coding, prepare for interviews, and get hired,” the HackerRank website promises developer users. For business customers, the company assures access to “over five million developers.”

Now, the government is getting in on the fun.

“The code challenge is an initiative to allow anyone with the necessary technical skills to help government solve problems, and to allow federal agencies to take a look at potential interested candidates for IT-related jobs,” a CIO Council spokesperson told FedScoop. The Council hopes to use the challenge to “explore the talent available in this field to fill current and future opportunities in the federal IT workforce.” The spokesperson did not elaborate on what these opportunities are or which agencies they are based at.


Per the HackerRank landing page, the CIO Council’s front end challenge consists of eight questions and takes around an hour and 15 minutes to complete. Participants must opt-in to have their information and results shared with the CIO Council. It’s unclear how many people have taken part in the challenge to date.

This code challenge isn’t the CIO Council’s first foray into unconventional federal hiring concepts. In November 2017 the group hosted its first jobs fair. The event attracted 1,864 job seekers and ultimately led to 300 interviews and more than 50 tentative job offers.

Latest Podcasts