Honors for cutting-edge public-sector programs
Six government initiatives – one city, three state and two federal programs – received awards. The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School announced the winners. Each Innovations winner will receive $100,000 to spend on repeating and duplicating their innovative programs.
The award winners offer solutions to pressing challenges in the United States, and enhance policy research at Harvard and other academic institutions worldwide, according to organizers of the awards program.
One of the selected innovators was the Acquisition Fund of New York City, which makes housing more accessible to disadvantaged residents by providing affordable housing developers and nonprofits with faster access to equity and pre-development capital.
Another winner was North Carolina’s Learn and Earn program, which also seeks to level the playing field for disadvantaged populations. Through an intensive curriculum of project-based learning, Learn and Earn helps underperforming high school students jump-start their college educations and better prepare for the highly competitive work force of today.
‘Creative, novel solutions’
This year’s award winners at the federal level encourage both cross-collaboration and knowledge sharing in their initiatives. The Intelligence Community Civilian Joint Duty Program of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, for instance, requires intelligence officials to complete a period of duty outside their parent agencies. By working in one of the 16 outside intelligence community agencies, the program hopes to develop leaders with a broader sense of the inner workings of American intelligence.
The Global Domain Awareness program of the U.S. Department of Transportation, meanwhile, encourages similar collaboration. Its global vessel traffic monitoring system offers unprecedented levels of visibility into transit and port activity, tracking in real-time the movements of more than 10,000 vessels from 40 nations.
“From juvenile justice to the security of our global waters and prison re-entry, these government programs demonstrate creative, novel solutions to our nation’s most pervasive challenges,” said Anthony Saich, director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation. “Such innovations prove instrumental to our work at the Ash Institute, informing and enhancing scholarly research in our classrooms and driving policy and legislative changes at the state and federal levels.”
Since 1986, the Ash Institute’s Innovations in American Government Awards Program at Harvard Kennedy School has honored 187 federal, state and local government agencies through the support of the Ford Foundation. Many of the award-winning programs honored by the institute have been replicated across jurisdictions and policy areas, and have aided in developing needed state and federal legislation. “Each of the 2008 winners produced a new, bold way of addressing a previously intractable problem,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Awards at Harvard Kennedy School.
Go to this link to watch “Visionaries,” a PBS-produced documentary that features vignettes of all six 2008 Innovations in American Government winners.
Go here to download the 2009 Innovations in American Government Awards application form, or to nominate an organization for the Innovations Award.