As part of the Open Government Initiative in the U.S. federal government, the White House has introduced a new policy instrument called "Challenges and Prizes", implemented as Challenge.gov that allows federal departments to run Open Innovation (OI) contests. This initiative was motivated by similar OI initiatives in the private sector and to enhance innovativeness and performance among federal agencies. Here we first define the underlying theoretical concepts of OI, crowdsourcing and contests and apply them to the existing theory of publicness and the creation of public goods. We then analyze over 200 crowdsourcing contests on CHALLENGE.GOV and conclude that federal departments and agencies use this policy instrument for four different purpose: awareness, service, knowledge and technical solutions. We conclude that Challenge.gov is currently used as an innovative format to inform and educate the public about public management problems and less frequently to solicit complex technological solutions from problem solvers.