In honor of National Veterans and Military Families Month, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is recommitting itself to its mission to “memorialize veterans in perpetuity.” The NCA is turning to crowdsourcing to revamp its outdated Nationwide Gravesite Locator, a web portal that allows users to access burial information for cemeteries across the country.

In the challenge posted on, the NCA “seeks to expand its interactive digital capabilities to better engage the public (rather than simply informing it).” The NCA is looking to solve its concerns with the current web portal, primarily that “[the Nationwide Gravesite Locator] is not meant to be interactive; people cannot leave notes, photos, comments, etc. on any of the results generated.”

The challenge is open until November 30, 2017 and winners will be announced December 21, 2017. Sponsors of the challenge, which include the NCA, VA Center for Innovation, Operation Code, NASA Tournament Lab, and Topcoder, are offering the winner $5,000 and five finalists will receive $1,000 each. Private, public, and collegiate teams are eligible to apply. However, current government contracts are not eligible, according to the challenge rules. Additionally, the NCA cautions current government employees to consult their ethics advisor before participating.

A submission will be judged based on how well it impacts and engages users, as well as the solution’s creativity and ease of implementation. To be eligible, the submission must address one or more of the NCA’s goals for the new portal:

  • Attract visitors to the online memorial
  • Engage visitors while at the online memorial
  • Retain visitors for long term online memorial engagement
  • Return visitors to the online memorial on a habitual basis
  • Ensure proper decorum/appropriateness is upheld within the online memorial
  • Incorporate in-person interactive features
  • Integrate interactive features for those who can only engage remotely

“The VA already has the core data and the future development plan to execute on this online memorial concept,” the challenge statement says. “We are seeking your best idea of website features or integrations that will make the interactive process meaningful, engaging, and appropriate for all future audiences.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.