Competition Rules

In addition to the below Competition Rules and the GovHack Code of Conduct, all participants of GovHack (GovHack Officials, Judges, Mentors, Coaches, Competitors) and their associated guests (family & friends), and any service providers or visitors (Sponsor Representatives, Media, Emergency Services, Providers, IT support, Entertainers, Members of Parliament, Ministers & their Staff, etc) are expected to also uphold the national & state laws of the event they are attending or registered to compete from.

The competition starts and ends at local time

  • 7pm Friday Local time – Challenges are published for your region on Hackerspace.
  • 10am Saturday Local time – All competitors are recommended to register as a team on Hackerspace. Also the recommended time for selecting your challenges and recording them to your project page.
  • 3pm Sunday Local time – Your video should be finalised and a URL linking to your video created to load on your Project page. It may take some time for your video to load once you have started the upload process.
  • 4pm Sunday local time – You MUST have all parts of your competition entry finalised before 4:00pm Local time.

Submission times are system programmed and controlled. Hackerspace will automatically lock at the end of the competition. There will be no extensions!

Each member of the project team must be registered

All members of the project team must be individually registered on Hackerspace.

  • At least one team member must be located or based in Australia and/or New Zealand.
  • At least one team member must be over 18 (or a guardian must be registered as the representative to facilitate awards).
  • Entrants may be members of multiple teams but each team must be registered separately.
  • The maximum team size is 10.
  • The project team may consist of team members registered in different regions.

Projects must be submitted in Hackerspace

Hackerspace is the official GovHack competition submission site and allows you to submit all components required for your team’s GovHack entry. The URL is

The following must be completed in Hackerspace for an entry to be eligible for judging:

  • Add all team members to your Team Project in Hackerspace (if your team wins, we can only recognise registered team members).
  • A descriptive project page, listing your team members, details about your project, what data sets have been used and which competition challenges (state/territory, national and international) that you are entering. The project page must include your Project Description and Data Story. This is a short description that describes how data has been reused and what your project is about. Submit an image that best captures your concept e.g a logo or image. If you win an award the Data Story will be used to describe your project.
  • Nominate your Challenges: After you register your Team Project on Hackerspace you’ll be able to enter challenges on Hackerspace.
    • Teams may register more than one project; a new project page is required for each project.
    • Teams can nominate for more than one challenge for each project; as long as the entry meets the eligibility criteria for EACH challenge.
    • At a minimum please nominate at least one challenge. Projects must only enter challenges they are eligible for.
    • Each project may be entered into up to 5 challenges.
  • Outcomes from the project itself (any code, graphics, mashups, applications, website URLs, photos of each stage to create your artistic representation etc) must all be made available under an open source/content licence to be eligible for awards and any prizes. If judges are able to see and play with it that is useful, but this is a secondary consideration when judging. Teams may put the code/source on GitHub, Sourceforge or an equivalent repository system and must make the URL available on their team page for verification. For artistic works you may need to create a photo library or share a link to a document (such as Google Docs) that contains evidence of the stages of your project.
  • Data used – On your project page you are required to record any data used. This is especially required if the challenges entered has a data usage requirement for eligibility. Help make judges life easy and add the link to to the dataset used.
  • A pre-recorded video (maximum three minutes) – That demonstrates your hack in action for the judging panel. The preferred method is to use a screencast or recorded demo with a voice-over narration explaining your hack, why you created it, and what is being shown in the video. Remember that the judging panel is viewing the videos in isolation and doesn’t necessarily have any context around your project. You may mix in other elements with the video, such as footage demonstrating the issues your hack addresses, interviews, live action material you’ve filmed, etc – but be aware that videos that don’t focus on showing off the hack itself will not be as valued as ones that do. You are encouraged to include your team name, event location, team members, and to talk about the data you have used and your data reuse story. Judges reserve the right to stop watching video which are over 3 minutes. Videos significantly longer than 3 minutes (over 5%) may have penalties applied).

You must use at least one official dataset

You will find the list of official datasets and open data portals available for the GovHack competition on the Hackerspace. You must use at least one official data set to be eligible for awards. Check the eligibility requirements of each award to see if you need to use a specific dataset or data from a specific Data Publisher or Data Portal.

Some datasets listed on data portals may have additional resources available with further information on how to use the data or other supporting material. You are encouraged to download and use these resources.

You are also free to use other datasets not published on Hackerspace as long as their licensing terms permit usage for this purpose. You may also use any publicly accessible web services as long as it does not incur a financial cost to use (private and subscription APIs are prohibited due to licensing issues and barrier to entry).

Projects must be open source

You agree to only include code, data, or other materials in a submission for the GovHack competition that you have the right to use and release consist with these Competition Rules.

All code and data must be available under an appropriately open license that allows reuse, commercial use, remixing and redistribution. As the owner of the code you can fork that code and commercialise if you want, but to be eligible for the competition, the codebase and demonstration submitted must be open sourced. All other content submitted must be Creative Commons BY licensed. For instance you may choose to submit an incredible dynamic or static data visualisation as your team contribution.

Most data sets available for this competition have been released under a permissive licence such as the Creative Commons Attribution license 4.0. You can also use other material that has been released on similarly liberal terms (ie. it is in the public domain (eg. US Government materials) or released under another, compatible Creative Commons license, the Free Documentation License, the MIT license or BSD license etc.). You can use non-Government data licenced for reuse, however remember this is GovHack so you must use at least one of the official Government datasets.

Use of third party tools and APIs under open use license is allowed under the GovHack Competition rules. If you use such a tool or API in your entry you must note and take responsibility for adhering to the third party terms of service. Competitors must be able to retain IP of created content according to any third party terms of service.

The reason for the open licensing of code and content is because GovHack is about awesome outcomes that anyone can use and build on. Great innovation comes from building on the greatness of those who came before.

Judging criteria

All GovHack entries will be judged by the GovHack Competition Judging Panel against the following criteria:

  • Originality
  • The relevance to the nominated challenge
  • Specific award eligibility criteria detailed (if any) e.g. data use, team criteria
  • Consistency with competition purposes including social value
  • Quality and design (including standards compliance)
  • Usability (including documentation and ease of use)
  • Overall score of the project submission

The GovHack competition judges will choose all winners. The judging panel for awards will consist of a mix of GovHack organisers, government agency representatives and industry sponsors as appropriate for each award. All Submissions elements detailed in “Submitting your entry” section of this document must be completed by the required time.

Judges expect entries to be primarily developed throughout the weekend of GovHack. If submissions are shown to have been worked on prior, the submission will be ineligible for awards. This does not include reuse or extension of existing software, libraries or data sets.

Final arbiter is the judging panel whose decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into. This is a competition of skill. Chance plays no part in this competition.


Each winning team must nominate a team captain in the Hackerspace. This captain will be required to liaise with and provide their details to GovHack organisers following award announcements. The captain will coordinate the distribution of awards including prize money that must be evenly split between all team members. If all members of your team are under 18 then please nominate a guardian or the Local Event Organisers who will facilitate the purchase of vouchers to be split winnings among the team. If a finalist team has been selected to receive a Golden Ticket to the Red Carpet Awards, it is the team captain who will represent the team.

Some local in-kind awards and prizes may be presented on the Sunday afternoon after competition close. Winners of State and Territory awards will be announced at the State/Territory Awards night. New Zealand awards will be announced at the New Zealand Awards night. Australian National and International Awards will be announced at the Red Carpet Awards. The Red Carpet Awards is a great opportunity to celebrate the best projects from around the country with sponsors, agencies, media and high profile guests.

Projects that will be disqualified

Don’t do bad things – This competition has been designed to demonstrate the benefit of open access and Government 2.0. Please participate in and engage with the competition in that spirit and in good faith. You must not include submissions that are:

  • Potentially libellous, false, defamatory, privacy invasive or overtly political;
  • Material which is potentially confidential, commercially sensitive, or which would cause personal distress or loss;
  • Any commercial endorsement, promotion of any product, service, organisation or publication;
  • Misleading, deceptive, violate a third party’s rights or are otherwise contrary to law.

We reserve the right to reject submissions that do not comply with the letter and spirit of these rules.

Special consideration

Requests for time extensions or project page edits may be considered under special circumstances (such as event space wide internet failure, Hackerspace failure). These requests should be emailed to and your event host with detailed reasons why the late submission should be accepted. Please provide details of your project and clear reasons why special consideration should given. The local event host will need to confirm the justification.

Eligibility of Judges and Mentors for prizes

We recognise that sometimes as a Judge, or a Mentor, you just can’t help yourself and want to get involved. We understand. GovHack has that effect on people. We also know that this could put you at odds with your employer’s policies, or potentially make the competition unfair due to “insider knowledge”. To keep it all simple:

  • GovHack Official Judges (from the International, National or State/Territories Operations Teams): GovHack officials cannot judge, or shortlist a challenge which their immediate employer is sponsoring.
  • Sponsor Judges: Where possible, in the interests of impartiality and removing unconscious bias, Sponsor Judges should be individuals who were not a part of the event.
  • In the event a sponsor is a header organisation (a State, Territory or the Australian Government): The agency will be regarded as the Agency of State for the purposes of the rules. (e.g. Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for the Australian Government, Office of the Chief Minister for the ACT, and so on).

In the event of dispute or uncertainty, the Chief of Judging in the GovHack Operations Team will reserve the right to disqualify a judge/mentor/speaker if they perceive unfairness. The Chief Judge will consult with three or four members of the Operations Team, and/or State/Territory Operations Team before making any final decision. The Chief Judge’s decision is final. The Chief judge is exempt from any limitations applied to judges and/or dataset restrictions. The Chief Judge may advise participants and GovHack officials, on the judging system and resolve any disputes or ties. The Chief Judge may act as a mentor. No judge (including the Chief Judge) is eligible to enter the competition.

Media and Social Media

Entrants consent to GovHack representatives using their name, likeness, image and/or voice in any media for an unlimited period of time, without remuneration, for any publicity and marketing purposes.

Submissions and comments across Hackerspace, Slack and our social media pages will be posted live, but occasionally they may not make it through our anti-trolling and anti-spamming filters and may need to be moderated manually. We reserve the right to remove or not post any submission that reasonably appears to breach any of these rules.

GovHack should be an awesome experience for everyone. Be nice, play fair, or go home.

The GovHack team makes no representations or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied, including warranties of accuracy, in regard to any submissions or links published on the GovHack website.