Open Data Challenge

Prizes Now Available! MCC is pleased to announce prizes of up to $1,000 for exemplary papers submitted to the Challenge. See below for additional details on eligibility and how to submit your abstract and paper.

The U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) wants to hear your new and innovative ideas on how to maximize the use of data that MCC finances for its independent evaluations. Be a part of MCC’s Second Open Data Challenge!

We are challenging undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. students to find creative ways to use our publicly available evaluation data.  Up to six Open Data Challenge winners will be awarded and invited to MCC to present their findings to MCC senior management, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. 


MCC is committed to publicly sharing data generated in the design, implementation, and evaluation of its programs to achieve two important goals:

  • Transparency—To enable any stakeholder, researcher, or agency to understand the source data and analysis behind MCC evaluations for replicating, or challenging, reported results.
  • Policy-relevant research for the public good—Recognizing the value of data generated through MCC projects and investments, public access to MCC-financed data can stimulate a wide range of policy relevant research, maximizing the benefits of MCC’s investments in large-scale data collection efforts in developing countries.

To date, MCC has published data packages associated with more than 46 studies. All data and its associated documentation is available on the MCC Evaluation Catalog.

What is the Open Data Challenge?

Using data available on the MCC Evaluation Catalog, we are looking for papers of up to 7,000 words in any of the following categories:

  • Analysis that supports or challenges assumptions made in ex-ante economic rate of return estimates (all ERRs are available on the MCC public website here
  • Analysis that supports or challenges results of independent evaluations (all final evaluation reports are published on the MCC Evaluation Catalog)
  • Deeper dive analysis beyond the analysis presented in independent evaluator reports
  • Policy-relevant analysis, particularly on topics related to MCC priorities, such as gender and poverty-related analysis

For more information about how the Open Data Challenge started, read this blog post.

Who is eligible?

We are looking for current domestic and international undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. students studying in international development, economics, public policy, or related programs to be the lead authors responsible for analysis and interpretation of results using data available on the MCC Evaluation Catalog.

Students are encouraged to partner with professors or other professionals that may contribute to the technical rigor of the paper. Undergraduates are encouraged to submit a recommendation letter from a professor or other professional along with their abstract to strengthen their submissions.

Why should you participate?

The MCC Open Data Challenge promotes the use of MCC-financed data resources among current eligible students. As the next generation of practitioners, researchers, and policy makers, your thoughts and expertise on topics that matter can help inform MCC and other development stakeholders, on what works and what doesn’t in development.

Up to six selected authors will have their submissions published in the MCC Evaluation Catalog and will receive funding for travel and lodging to present at a research workshop at MCC’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. The selected authors will be invited to present their papers to an audience of senior MCC management, policy makers, researchers, and practitioners. This is an opportunity to have your work published and to share your analysis with a select group of decision-makers.

In addition, we are pleased to announce that prizes of up to $1,000 will be available to a select number of submitters based on quality papers. MCC will determine who is eligible, and the amount of the prize. Receiving a prize does not ensure advancement in the competition. 

While MCC requests authors’ permission to distribute the papers submitted to MCC for consideration in this Open Data Challenge, MCC strongly encourages authors to also submit their papers to peer-review journals for broader distribution.

How will papers be assessed?

MCC will form a panel of experts to review papers using criteria that will be made available on this website. All papers will be assessed for:

  • Technical rigor. Are appropriate statistical methods used? Are assumptions reasonable?
  • Expected contribution. Is the paper timely and likely to achieve influence with the target audience? Could this paper result in or support positive change? Does the paper have a novel presentation of an existing concept, or a synthesis for a new audience? Does the paper contribute to understanding/documenting international best practice in this area?
  • Clarity and presentation. Is the abstract/executive summary clear, complete, concise, and well framed for the target audience? Does the author clearly explain the objective of the paper? Do the length, content, structure, style, and presentation suit the target audience?

What is the timeline?

Please return to this page for submitting abstracts and papers by the respective deadlines. Note new dates! The timeline has been extended to adjust to the academic calendar and encourage greater participation in the Challenge.

  • By 5:00 pm EST on October 17, 2016, submit a maximum 500-word paper abstract. This will not be used for screening in any way. This will be used to gauge the range of topics that will be covered by papers submitted in order to best identify the panel of reviewers. Submission of an abstract is a prerequisite for submission of a paper. Return to this site for instructions on submission.
  • By 5:00 pm EST on July 24, 2017, submit a final, maximum 7,000-word paper. Return to this site for instructions on submission.
  • By August 31, 2017, MCC will announce up to six selected papers and begin planning for public presentation of papers at MCC.

Contact & Questions:

To submit an abstract, or for more details about the Open Data Challenge, contact Hana Freymiller in the Department of Policy & Evaluation.

General inquiries, please contact us here.