I absolutely appreciate the concept of running contests to foster better visibility, innovative thinking, creativity, and incentives for community involvement… and I’ve seen some very cool applications come out of these contests.
That said, I think it would be a stretch to expect these contests to be an ongoing source of production-quality, supportable applications. Contests are great catalysts and marketing exercises (both for the contest holders and the participants)… but it takes deep, committed engagement to get solutions that will solve real government problems. That means the right incentives and compensation for hard developer work.
Developers may be happy to contribute to open source projects… but it’s a mistake to think that we work for free 🙂 … everyone has at least one mouth to feed.