Anyone who has ever compared the results of central planning and free-market competition should be glad to read the following excerpt from the latest Bloomberg Businessweek:

Innovation through competitions with cash prizes isn’t a novel concept for companies or philanthropists—think the X Prize for commercial space flights—but it’s new for most of the federal government. Cristin Dorgelo is the first person to hold the position of White House Assistant Director for Grand Challenges. For the last year and a half she’s been urging federal officials to run contests meant to spark innovation in the private sector or to solve puzzles for the government. Contests “help us set some very ambitious targets without having to guess in advance which team or which approach might work best” to fix a problem, she says.

Imagine that: It makes sense to avoid situations in which bureaucrats pick winners and losers. What would be even better is if government at all levels adopted this principle more often.