The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) recently announced the Top 50 programs of the 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards competition. Selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 applicants, these programs represent the best in government innovation from local, county, city, tribal, state, and federal levels. The winning program will receive an award of $100,000.
Established in 1985 at HKS by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Awards Program is designed to improve government practice by honoring effective government initiatives and encouraging the dissemination of such best practices across the country. Over its 20-year history, the program has honored 181 federal, state, and local government agencies. Many award-winning programs are now replicated across policy areas and jurisdictions, serving as forerunners for reform strategies and new legislation. Such programs also inform research and academic study at HKS and other academic institutions around the world.
Each of the Top 50 programs underwent several rounds of evaluation from a committee of practitioners and policy experts from HKS and institutions nationwide. Selected programs address a number of important policy areas including health and social services; management and governance; community and economic development; education and training; criminal justice; transportation and infrastructure; and the environment.
Representing a range of jurisdictions from across the country, the Top 50 programs include 17 cities/towns, four counties, six federal agencies, three school districts, 19 states, and one tribal government. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maine have multiple programs represented in the Top 50.
“The 50 best innovations for the 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards demonstrate effective solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing issues,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the program.
“We commend the innovative initiatives of these Top 50 Programs,” said Gowher Rizvi, director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation. “In their path to finding new ways for doing the public’s business better, these programs are paving the way for nationwide — and even global — reform strategies.”
Finalists will be announced June 3. On June 12, finalist programs will present their initiatives before the National Selection Committee, chaired by David Gergen, Public Service Professor at HKS. The event is free and open to the public. The winners of the 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards will be announced and honored at a gala and reception in September.