The Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has announced that 15 groundbreaking initiatives have been named finalists for the Innovations in American Government Award. Each of the 15 finalists, eligible to win $100,000, will receive a $10,000 grant to support replication activities.
“This year’s finalists reflect enormous breadth of impact and tremendous diversity in their innovations,” said Gowher Rizvi, director of the institute. “From imaginative new uses of public space to high-tech new applications of public data, these programs have delivered major benefits to citizens, coast to coast.”
This year’s finalists are as follows:
- Bid-to-Goal procurement program, created by San Diego Public Contract Operations. Melding the best of public and private enterprise, Bid-to-Goal offers a cost-effective way for cities to choose the best service providers to operate critical public infrastructure facilities. The program has saved the city of San Diego $53 million.
- Care 7-Crisis Response Services, a partnership among citizens, mental health professionals, police, and fire personnel in Tempe, Ariz. Providing immediate, comprehensive services to victims of trauma and violence around the clock, Care 7 has assisted more than 11,000 adults and children while saving the city nearly $400,000.
- Center for Higher Education, a consortium of 10 Ohio colleges and universities. Helping to break the cycle of poverty and unemployment in Appalachian Ohio, the center helps more than 14,000 citizens obtain higher education.
- Citywide Geographic Information Systems Utility, managed by New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. This digital mapping program provided critical information to responders during Sept. 11, the West Nile virus outbreak, and the anthrax threat. It integrates a myriad of data to chart every important physical feature of the city, saving precious time in emergencies.
- Consortium for Court Interpreter Certification, founded by four states and the National Center for State Courts. By creating an economical, rigorous system for training and certifying skilled court interpreters, the consortium – now 29 states and growing – is helping to ensure equal justice for non-English speakers.
- Efficiency Vermont, run by the state’s Energy Investment Corp. Since replacing an ineffective patchwork of 22 programs, the nation’s first independent, ratepayer-funded energy efficiency utility has saved 58,000 megawatt hours of electricity – more than what three hydroelectric dams in Vermont generate per year.
- Families Together for Therapeutic Visitation, a partnership between Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families, and the Providence Children’s Museum. This program has pioneered a fresh approach to therapeutic visitation for families separated by court order due to abuse and neglect.
- FirstGov.gov, administered by the U.S. General Services Administration, is the federal government’s official comprehensive Web portal to government services and information. The portal links to more than 180 million pages of information from federal, state, and local governments, providing secure access to the government for more than 1.4 million visitors per week.
- La Bodega de la Familia is an effort of the New York State Division of Parole. This partnership within Manhattan’s multicultural Loisaida community has significantly decreased drug use, improved treatment outcomes, and reduced arrests among drug offenders on parole and probation.
- Multi-State Clean Diesel Initiative, created by two national associations of air quality officials. This regulatory alliance is helping states reduce pollution by adopting California’s tough emission controls for diesel trucks. It could lead to environmental and health benefits equal to removing 30 million cars from the roads.
- Oso de Oro Lake Park, created by the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District. A pioneering advance in accessible, multiuse recreational space, this 10-acre park combines environmental benefits with recreation, wildlife education, and a California history theme.
- Public Safety Collaborative, a partnership among the Knoxville police department, and correctional and social service organizations. Through timely information sharing and well-coordinated, multidisciplinary case management, this effort in Tennessee has dramatically reduced recidivism by helping high-risk offenders overcome substance abuse and poverty to successfully transition from prison to the community.
- Structured Decision-Making, created by Michigan’s Family Independence Agency. This widely replicated case management program helps child services workers more accurately and consistently determine risks, prioritize responses, and target resources to families most at risk.
- 311 System, the gateway to a vast array of programs and services offered by the city of Chicago. Since the program’s inception in 1999, 311 has become a comprehensive, high-tech, customer-focused online and telephone information and response service, boosting efficiency across city government.
- University-Community Information Initiatives, created by the University of California, Los Angeles. This unprecedented use of public university resources has spawned two information-rich Web sites that are helping to transform lives and communities throughout Los Angeles. They are models for a range of university-community technology projects and have sparked the first community information system to serve users statewide.”These finalists vividly demonstrate that there is an energetic ferment in America today to continuously and creatively improve our public life – an ongoing research and development collaboration between citizens and their governments at every level,” said Patricia McGinnis, president and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government.These outstanding programs were among nearly 1,000 applicants for the 16th annual awards. A national selection committee, chaired by David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard, will select five winning programs in May.