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about 8 years ago

Important Eligibility Update

Hi Ag Data Hackers & Engineers,

After additional legal review from Microsoft, there has been a change to how prizes will be awarded to winners who are employed by public sector organizations (including but not limited to educational institutions).

In order to adhere to public sector regulations around the ethics of receiving gifts, Microsoft can not award cash prizes directly to an employee of a public sector entity. A cash prize won by an individual participant employed by a public sector entity will be awarded to the individual’s public sector employer. If a team includes public sector employees and individuals not employed in the public sector, the prize will be awarded to a non-public sector employee team member. If a team includes only public sector employees, and team members are from multiple organizations, the prize will be divided and awarded proportionally to each organization represented on the team. 

This does not mean that public sector employees are not eligible to compete for cash prizes. It means that any cash prize must be awarded either to a team member who is not a public sector employee, or to the public sector employee’s organization, and not to the public sector employee directly. If the prize is sent to the public sector employee’s organization, it will be up to the public sector employee's organization (ethics officer, attorney, or designated executive or the office responsible for the organization’s gifts/ethics policy) to determine whether to distribute the cash prize to the employee, in accordance with its policies.

Microsoft defines a public sector organization as:

Government entities" include sovereign states and all governmental entities as well as quasi-Governmental entities, including but not limited to Government corporations, state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, regional transportation authorities, or state owned universities or hospitals. For additional guidance, please consult the State Owned Entity Criteria

“Government Official” refers to all of the following:

  • any employee of a government entity or subdivision, including elected officials;
  • any private person acting on behalf of a government entity, even if just temporarily;
  • officers and employees of companies that are owned or controlled by the government;
  • candidates for political office;
  • political party officials; and
  • officers, employees and representatives of public international organizations, such as the World Bank and United Nations.

Be aware that in certain countries and in certain industries, an individual who seems to work for a private entity may, in fact, be considered a Government Official. 

Please see the Official Rules for a full description of this clarification. If you have any further questions, please let us know on the Discussion Board or by emailing

Thank you!
The Microsoft team