Cutting-edge public-sector programs selected for honors
The finalist pool includes nine state programs, two city programs, two federal programs, one school district and one tribal government. New York City and Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have multiple programs as finalists.
The finalists, which were announced by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, were selected from an initial pool of about 1,000 applicants. The Innovations in American Government Awards program accepts applications from federal, state, local (including cities and counties), tribal and territorial government initiatives.
Finalists underwent seven months of evaluation by a group of policy analysts, government officials and academic experts at both Harvard Kennedy School and institutions around the United States. During the past month, finalists have been visited by an Innovations policy expert.
On June 12, program managers will present their innovations before the National Selection Committee—chaired by David Gergen—which will determine the 2008 winners. This free event is at Harvard Kennedy School and is open to the public. Presentations also will be available via live stream.
Six winners will be chosen from among the finalists; each will receive $100,000 toward the replication and promotion of its innovative program. Winners will be announced at a Sept. 9 ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“The Innovations in American Government Awards program is at the forefront of honoring government at its best,” said Gowher Rizvi, director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation. “We commend their creativity, novelty and munificent dedication to doing the public’s business better and hope their achievements will rebuild confidence in government.”
Established in 1985 at Harvard Kennedy School by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Awards program has honored 181 federal, state and local government agencies over its 20-year history.
Kate Hoagland, a spokeswoman for the Ash Institute, told GovPro.com that in recent years there has been an increase in the “geographic diversity of applications.”
“Instead of applications in one concentrated geographic region, we now receive applications from every state in the country,” Hoagland said. “We think this is reflective of the importance placed on government innovation nationwide.”
The following government programs are finalists for the 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards:
- ACCESS Plus, commonwealth of Pennsylvania—ACCESS Plus delivers health care services to low-income children and families, adapting incentives for prevention and disease management found in managed care to fee-for-service settings.
- Acquisition Fund, city of New York—The Acquisition Fund is a $230 million partnership that finances the purchase of land and buildings for affordable housing. Private finance tools allow smaller developers to compete in a tough market.
- Division of Youth Services, state of Missouri—The Division of Youth Services rehabilitates juvenile delinquents through small, humane treatment centers, characterized by rigorous treatment, education and extensive family and community engagement. The “Missouri Model” has achieved cost effectiveness through transforming young people into law-abiding and productive citizens.
- Fresh Food Financing Initiative, Pennsylvania—The Fresh Food Financing Initiative increases access to fresh, affordable food by providing grants and loans to supermarkets and grocery stores in underserved communities.
- “Getting Ready: Keeping Communities Safe,” state of Arizona—The Department of Corrections’ real-world re-entry effort, Getting Ready, begins the day inmates are admitted and continues throughout their sentence. This systemwide reform transforms prisons and improves long-term results.
- Global Maritime Domain Awareness, U.S. Department of Transportation—Global Maritime Domain Awareness is a low-cost and rapidly deployed global-vessel traffic monitoring system that contributes to the maritime security and safety of the United States and its allies.
- Intelligence Community Civilian Joint Duty Program, Office of the Director of National Intelligence—The Intelligence Community Civilian Joint Duty Program requires intelligence professionals to complete assignments outside their agency to achieve executive rank, with the goal of developing leaders who can break through stovepipes that prevented the intelligence community from “connecting the dots” prior to Sept. 11.
- Knowledge Management, commonwealth of Virginia—Knowledge Management supports the Virginia Department of Transportation by strengthening its ability to share critical knowledge and experiences of its employees to improve ongoing processes and products.
- Learn and Earn, state of North Carolina—The Learn and Earn Initiative allows high school students to gain job skills, jumpstart their college education and earn a four-year degree debt-free.
- MassDocs, commonwealth of Massachusetts—MassDocs makes affordable housing development in Massachusetts easier by creating one set of loan documents that simplifies the closing process, saving time and money.
- Project Zero, city of New York—Project Zero, a juvenile justice reform initiative of the Department of Probation, offers family-focused, community-based programs as alternatives to juvenile incarceration.
- Solid Waste and Energy Management, Yukon River Tribes—Sixty-six indigenous tribes and First Nations have improved the solid waste systems on the Yukon River through their BackHaul program, removing more than 6 million pounds of hazardous materials and recyclables that would otherwise return to the mainland empty.
- Teacher Residency, Boston Public School District—Based on the medical residency model, Boston Teacher Residency employs a hands-on, in-classroom approach to teacher training and preparation, recruiting and retaining teachers to work in the Boston Public School system.
- Welcome Back Center, state of California—The Welcome Back Center assists internationally trained health professionals as they pursue re-entry into the health work force.
- Youth Leadership Advisory Team, state of Maine—The Youth Leadership Advisory Team engages youth in foster care with state and federal policymakers to create significant improvements in child welfare policies, legislation and programs.
For additional information about the Ash Institute, click here.
To apply for the 2009 Innovations in American Government Awards, click here.