The mayor in chief.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today announced the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a “competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.”

From the press release:

The Mayors Challenge, which officially kicks off this week, invites the 1,300 mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit their city’s boldest idea. The innovative idea must improve city life by addressing a major social or economic issue, improving the customer service experience for citizens or businesses, increasing government efficiency, and/or enhancing accountability, transparency, and public engagement.

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The prize? A share of the $9 million purse that will be divvied up among five cities: one $5 million grand prize and four additional $1 million runners-up. Additionally, 20 finalists will be invited to a sort of municipal leadership summit, followed by coaching aimed at helping to shape their concepts for the final competition.

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This initiative will come as little surprise to those who read Gabriel Sherman’s look at what Bloomberg plans to do once he leaves office. In short, he aims to leverage his experience as mayor of a large city to provide assistance to leaders in other metropolitan areas.

Bloomberg has been casting about for his next job since about midway through his second term. In a sense, the third term was a stopgap, something to do while he made up his mind. And since the presidency seems frustratingly out of reach, he’s set his sights on a Plan B: He wants to be mayor of the world. “I don’t think there’s much difference in a meaningful sense, whether it’s a city here or a city there — wherever ‘there’ is,” he told the group. “I was in Hanoi and Singapore a few weeks ago, and they have exactly the same problems we do. It really is amazing.”

The Mayors Challenge sounds like precisely the platform for such an effort.