Could your smarter state government idea earn you $25,000?

Fix California government... take home a cool 25-grand.

That's the basic idea in new legislation authored by Asm. Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. On Friday, Gatto announced an effort to entice someone with a cash prize for the smartest idea on making state government more efficient.

"I believe there are experts in many fields who are frustrated with the inefficiencies of government and know exactly how to improve a system or process," said Gatto in a news release. "For these experts, it is not about the money, but the renown."

Sure, but the money doesn't hurt.

Gatto's Assembly Bill 2138 is modeled after the X-Prize, an award given by the nonprofit foundation of the same name. But the roots of these kinds of contests go back much further -- an 18th century prize for maritime navigation and Charles Lindbergh's 1927 victory in a prize contest for the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Making California government work better, it would seem, would be easy by comparison. Until you consider the labyrinth that is modern government.

The Los Angeles Democrat's plan would authorize Gov. Jerry Brown to select three state government agencies for the contest. Each agency would, according to the bill's current language, seek ideas that would produce "a procedure, plan, design, or idea to contribute to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement in the operations" of that part of California government.

Each winner would get $25,000. Three prizes in all, so $75,000 spent from the state's general fund.

The X-Prize itself isn't even the only game in town these days; just this week, the finalists were announced in Google's 'Lunar Prize' for private companies to be the first to land a commercial spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. That contest has a $6 million prize.

Surely that's harder than making California government more efficient, right?


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