MITRE Challenge Eligibility Verification

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On March 13, 2019, MITRE will announce the winners of the MITRE Challenge on Strengthening Eligibility Verification for Federal Benefits Programs.

The awards will be presented at the "Next-Gen" Approaches to Strengthening Payment Integrity event, which will connect government agencies and Challenge participants to discuss the problems and potential solutions.

The goals for this invitation-only event on payment integrity are to:

  • Discuss the government's perspectives around payment integrity, including the 2018 President's Management Agenda (PMA) Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal 9, "Getting Payments Right"
  • Share the innovative ideas gleaned from participants in the MITRE Challenge on Strengthening Eligibility Verification for Federal Benefits Programswith government and industry
  • Serve as a launching point for further action by an ongoing community of stakeholders.

Looking for Cross-Agency Solutions

We chose payment integrity as the topic of our recent MITRE Challenge because of its significance to so many federal agencies and because MITRE has years of expertise in this area. We also have experience in identifying good ideas from diverse organizations (e.g., academia, industry, incubators) and connecting these innovators with government agencies looking for new ideas.

We began working with OMB and federal agencies to develop the Challenge prior to the issuance of the PMA, but we started highlighting the connection once the PMA was released. This Challenge focuses on one of the most difficult aspects of Getting Payments Right: verifying applicant eligibility.

Recognizing that overcoming benefits eligibility gaps is a longstanding issue that agencies have not been able to solve, we developed the Challenge as an ideation challenge. In other words, we did not ask for prototypes to test, but rather for fresh, novel ideas on how to overcome the government's most difficult gaps.

On March 13, the finalists will share their innovative approaches, which make use of a wide range of technology, from mobile and web apps to machine learning to predictive analytics. Their ideas also support the government's desire for a cross-agency solution, which is what the Challenge Team was looking for—along with approaches that are efficient, user-friendly, and protective of individuals' privacy.

For More Information

For more information, or to be put on a mailing list for Challenge updates, please email

Can You Help Solve This Problem?

In 2017, federal agencies spent about $141 billion on "improper payments." These are payments from federal benefit programs that—due to fraud or error—should not have been made or were made in the wrong amount. The total has gone up 33 percent since 2013. To spotlight the problem, the 2018 President’s Management Agenda listed "Getting Payments Right" as one of its 14 Cross-Agency Priority goals.

How can we help the government reverse this trend and protect taxpayer funds?

It is difficult for agencies to efficiently and cost-effectively verify the eligibility of people applying for benefits. About 25 percent of improper payments occur because agencies do not verify with certainty that the people they paid were eligible. Systems and processes for determining benefit eligibility must be strengthened against fraud, error, and abuse. And, at the same time, they need to be efficient and user friendly, and protect individuals' privacy.

MITRE is launching this Challenge to motivate creative inventors to find ground-breaking approaches to solving the problem of improper enrollment in federal benefit programs.

The Strengthening Eligibility Verification Challenge seeks to discover innovative, cost-effective solutions that government agencies can use to improve verification of benefit eligibility in federal programs.

Why You Should Join the Challenge

  • Make an impact. Develop a game-changing solution to help the government safeguard taxpayer dollars and be recognized for your invention.
  • Win a prize. The winning team will be awarded $50,000. Smaller prizes will be awarded for specific categories, such as cost-effectiveness.
  • Make connections. The winning teams will be invited to meet with federal agency representatives to present their solutions, which may lead to future interactions.

Who May Participate?

This Challenge is open to a broad range of competitors. We welcome:

  • Individual entrepreneurs
  • College teams
  • State and local government representatives (if their organizations support their participation)
  • Large and small for-profit and not-for-profit entities.

Please note that participation by non-U.S. entities, while welcome, may be subject to additional requirements or restrictions imposed by MITRE or the U.S. Government.

The Challenge Deliverable

The MITRE Challenge Team and our federal agency partners have built a hypothetical agency scenario with specific program eligibility characteristics to be verified. Each Challenge applicant will be asked to develop and submit a framework that could enable effective eligibility verification for this hypothetical benefits program. 

Proposed approaches should specifically address the eligibility issues faced by these agencies. Winning proposals will have the potential to measurably reduce improper payments.

Your "challenge" is to develop a framework that includes concrete ideas and a plan that could be implemented by government agencies. This may include architectural schematics and a brief concept of operations. Your submission should include, for example:

  • Mechanisms to detect and prevent attempts to fraudulently or abusively gain or retain benefits
  • Solutions to expose and resolve those vulnerabilities that allow beneficiaries to improperly obtain benefits
  • Checks on both initial enrollments and continued benefits (e.g., can you determine if a beneficiary has experienced a life event that would change his/her eligibility status)

Concepts should be operationally feasible, which means they must be:

  • Affordable and replicable
  • Implementable without major legislative change
  • Designed so as not to significantly burden benefits recipients.

Note: We will present a webinar for all participants to discuss verification issues and help you understand the government’s needs and our expectations for solutions.

Criteria: Submissions will be judged on such criteria as breadth of design, originality of the solution, and feasibility. Judges include the MITRE Challenge Team and representatives from a number of our government agency partners.

Challenge Timeline

August: Registration site opens. Participants should provide team name, contact information, and other information to begin the registration process. Teams will be required to sign a participant agreement to compete.

September 20: Participants are invited to a  "get started" webinar at 4:00 p.m. EST.

September 30:  Registration closes.

October 1:  Challenge opens at 12:00 p.m. EST.  Team captains will be provided access to the hypothetical scenario.

October 3:  Registered teams are invited to an informational webinar at 4:00 EST.  Call in details will be provided to team captains.

November 30:  Challenge closes at 5:00 p.m. EDT .

March: Teams with the best ideas about how to solve this challenge will be invited to MITRE's McLean offices to network with industry and government leaders and present their solutions. Prizes will be presented during the event.

MITRE Challenge Partners

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Office of Management and Budget
  • National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association

For More Information

For more information, or to be put on a mailing list for Challenge updates, please email