The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) recently announced the top 50 programs of the 2009 Innovations in American Government Awards competition. The programs, which represent the best in government innovation from local, county, city, tribal, state, and federal levels, were selected from more than 600 applicants, and include 21 cities and towns, seven counties, one school district, 11 states, eight federal agencies, one tribal government, and one regional authority.
Established in 1985 at HKS by the Ford Foundation in response to widespread pessimism and distrust in government’s effectiveness, the awards program acts as a significant force in restoring public trust in government by promoting public sector creativity and excellence. Competing programs demonstrate innovative solutions within a host of policy areas, and since the competition’s inception, over 400 government programs across all jurisdiction levels have been recognized and have collectively received more than $20 million in grants to support dissemination efforts.
In addition to encouraging the adaptation of innovative practices worldwide, award winners provide models of good governance taught in government school curricula. Such programs inform research and academic study around issues of democratic governance at HKS and serve as the basis for case studies for present and future public practitioners. To date, more than 450 Harvard courses and over 2,250 courses worldwide have incorporated Innovations in American Government case studies.
Finalists of the 2009 Innovations Awards will be announced on May 18 and will present before the National Selection Committee, chaired by David Gergen, professor of public service at HKS. This event, which will be held on May 27, is free and open to the public. The 2009 Innovations winners will be announced in September, and applicants for the 2010 awards are encouraged to apply at http://www.innovationsaward.harvard.edu.