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51 U.S. Code § 20144 - Prize authority

(a) In General.—
The Administration may carry out a program to competitively award cash prizes to stimulate innovation in basic and applied research, technology development, and prototype demonstration that have the potential for application to the performance of the space and aeronautical activities of the Administration. The Administration may carry out a program to award prizes only in conformity with this section.
(b) Topics.—
In selecting topics for prize competitions, the Administrator shall consult widely both within and outside the Federal Government, and may empanel advisory committees. The Administrator shall give consideration to prize goals such as the demonstration of the ability to provide energy to the lunar surface from space-based solar power systems, demonstration of innovative near-Earth object survey and deflection strategies, and innovative approaches to improving the safety and efficiency of aviation systems.
(c) Advertising.—
The Administrator shall widely advertise prize competitions to encourage participation.
(d) Requirements and Registration.—
For each prize competition, the Administrator shall publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the subject of the competition, the rules for being eligible to participate in the competition, the amount of the prize, and the basis on which a winner will be selected.
(e) Eligibility.—To be eligible to win a prize under this section, an individual or entity—
shall have registered to participate in the competition pursuant to any rules promulgated by the Administrator under subsection (d);
shall have complied with all the requirements under this section;
in the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States; and
shall not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment.
(f) Liability.—
(1) Assumption of risk.—
Registered participants must agree to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the Federal Government and its related entities, except in the case of willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from their participation in a competition, whether such injury, death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “related entity” means a contractor or subcontractor at any tier, and a supplier, user, customer, cooperating party, grantee, investigator, or detailee.
(2) Liability insurance.—Participants must obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial responsibility, in amounts determined by the Administrator, for claims by—
a third party for death, bodily injury, or property damage, or loss resulting from an activity carried out in connection with participation in a competition, with the Federal Government named as an additional insured under the registered participant’s insurance policy and registered participants agreeing to indemnify the Federal Government against third party claims for damages arising from or related to competition activities; and
the Federal Government for damage or loss to Government property resulting from such an activity.
(g) Judges.—For each competition, the Administration, either directly or through an agreement under subsection (h), shall assemble a panel of qualified judges to select the winner or winners of the prize competition on the basis described pursuant to subsection (d). Judges for each competition shall include individuals from outside the Administration, including from the private sector. A judge may not—
have personal or financial interests in, or be an employee, officer, director, or agent of any entity that is a registered participant in a competition; or
have a familial or financial relationship with an individual who is a registered participant.
(h) Administering the Competition.—
The Administrator may enter into an agreement with a private, nonprofit entity to administer the prize competition, subject to the provisions of this section.
(i) Funding.—
(1) Sources.—
Prizes under this section may consist of Federal appropriated funds and funds provided by the private sector for such cash prizes. The Administrator may accept funds from other Federal agencies for such cash prizes. The Administrator may not give any special consideration to any private sector entity in return for a donation.
(2) Availability.—
(A) Definition of provisions known as the anti-deficiency act.—
In this paragraph, the term “provisions known as the Anti-Deficiency Act” means sections 1341, 1342, 1349(a), 1350, 1351, 1511, 1512, 1513, 1514, 1515, 1516, 1517, 1518, and 1519 of title 31.
(B) In general.—
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds appropriated for prize awards under this section shall remain available until expended, and may be transferred, reprogrammed, or expended for other purposes only after the expiration of 10 fiscal years after the fiscal year for which the funds were originally appropriated. No provision in this section permits obligation or payment of funds in violation of the provisions known as the Anti-Deficiency Act.
(3) Appropriation or commitment of funds required before announcement of prize or increase.—
(A) In general.—
No prize may be announced under subsection (d) until all the funds needed to pay out the announced amount of the prize have been appropriated or committed in writing by a private source.
(B) Increase.—The Administrator may increase the amount of a prize after an initial announcement is made under subsection (d) if—
notice of the increase is provided in the same manner as the initial notice of the prize; and
the funds needed to pay out the announced amount of the increase have been appropriated or committed in writing by a private source.
(4) Notice to committees for prize greater than $50,000,000.—
No prize competition under this section may offer a prize in an amount greater than $50,000,000 unless 30 days have elapsed after written notice has been transmitted to the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate.
(5) Approval of administrator for prize greater than $1,000,000.—
No prize competition under this section may result in the award of more than $1,000,000 in cash prizes without the approval of the Administrator.
(j) Use of Administration Name or Insignia.—
A registered participant in a competition under this section may use the Administration’s name, initials, or insignia only after prior review and written approval by the Administration.
(k) Compliance With Existing Law.—
The Federal Government shall not, by virtue of offering or providing a prize under this section, be responsible for compliance by registered participants in a prize competition with Federal law, including licensing, export control, and non-proliferation laws, and related regulations.
Amendment Not Shown in Text

This section was derived from section 2459f–1 of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare, which was amended by Pub. L. 111–358, title I, § 105(b), Jan. 4, 2011, 124 Stat. 3993. For applicability of this amendment to this section, see section 5(b) of Pub. L. 111–314, set out as a Transitional and Savings Provisions note preceding section 10101 of this title. Former section 2459f–1 of Title 42 was amended by striking out “The Administration may carry out a program to award prizes only in conformity with this section.”

Historical and Revision Notes



Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)


42 U.S.C. 2459f–1.

Pub. L. 85–568, title III, § 314, as added Pub. L. 109–155, title I, § 104, Dec. 30, 2005, 119 Stat. 2910; Pub. L. 110–422, title XI, § 1105(b), Oct. 15, 2008, 122 Stat. 4809.

In subsection (i)(2), subparagraph (A) is added, and the words “provisions known as the Anti-Deficiency Act” are substituted for “the Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 1341)”, for clarity.

In subsection (i)(4), the words “Committee on Science and Technology” are substituted for “Committee on Science” on authority of Rule X(1)(o) of the Rules of the House of Representatives, adopted by House Resolution No. 6 (110th Congress, January 5, 2007).

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Change of Name

Committee on Science and Technology of House of Representatives changed to Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of House of Representatives by House Resolution No. 5, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, Jan. 5, 2011.

Availability of Funds

Pub. L. 118–42, div. C, title III, Mar. 9, 2024, 138 Stat. 160, provided that:

“Funds for any announced prize otherwise authorized shall remain available, without fiscal year limitation, until a prize is claimed or the offer is withdrawn.”

Similar provisions were contained in the following prior appropriation acts:

Pub. L. 117–328, div. B, title III, Dec. 29, 2022, 136 Stat. 4548.

Pub. L. 117–103, div. B, title III, Mar. 15, 2022, 136 Stat. 138.

Pub. L. 116–260, div. B, title III, Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 1270.

Pub. L. 116–93, div. B, title III, Dec. 20, 2019, 133 Stat. 2419.

Pub. L. 116–6, div. C, title III, Feb. 15, 2019, 133 Stat. 123.

Pub. L. 115–141, div. B, title III, Mar. 23, 2018, 132 Stat. 431.


Pub. L. 110–422, title XI, § 1105(a), Oct. 15, 2008, 122 Stat. 4809, provided that:

“Prizes can play a useful role in encouraging innovation in the development of technologies and products that can assist NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] in its aeronautics and space activities, and the use of such prizes by NASA should be encouraged.”