The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government (HKS) has announced the finalists for the 2009 Innovations in American Government Awards. These 16 programs represent innovations at the city, county, state, and federal levels of government and were selected from a pool of more than 600 initial applicants after rigorous rounds of evaluation. Winners will be announced in the fall.
The finalists include programs from six cities, three counties, one school district, four states, and two federal agencies. Representatives from each finalist program will present before the National Selection Committee at the JFK Jr. Forum on May 27.
Funded by the Ford Foundation, the program identifies and promotes excellence in the public sector. Winners are chosen based on novelty, effectiveness, significance, and the degree to which their innovations can inspire replication in other agencies worldwide. Past winners offer unique solutions to a range of issues including juvenile justice, environmental management, education, public health, and e-governance. Many programs act as harbingers for reform and new legislation, and often serve as the basis for case studies and curricula at Harvard and institutions worldwide.
“These difficult financial times serve as a reminder of the centrality and necessity of public-sector innovation,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the program. “The 2009 Innovations finalists epitomize governance at its best, wherein public officials engage in creative risk-taking and devise programs that better serve their constituents.”
Several of the 2009 finalists improve access and efficiencies within the social services sector. In addition to supporting underserved populations, other finalists provide solutions to revitalize their local economies, or expand overall transparency in government practice to refine decision making and cut costs.
“In honoring these novel government initiatives, we hope to encourage other agencies around the country to adopt similar best practices,” said Anthony Saich, director of the Ash Institute. “These innovations are instrumental to informing our studies of democratic governance and educating the next generation of practitioners.”
The following programs are finalists for the 2009 Innovations in American Government Awards:
Those programs with an * are also finalists for the 2009 Annie E. Casey Innovations Award in Children and Family System Reform
CHILD WELFARE REFORM*
STATE OF MAINE
Has achieved sustained, systemwide child welfare reform through family-centered and permanency-focused practice and data-driven case management. This effort has resulted in improved child safety and increased permanency.
NEW LEADERS FOR NEW SCHOOLS
CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT
Ensures high academic achievement for every Chicago Public School student by attracting and preparing outstanding leaders and supporting the performance of the urban public schools they lead.
AUTO INSURANCE FRAUD TASK FORCE
CITY OF LAWRENCE, MASS.
A collaborative effort that has dramatically reduced vehicular insurance fraud and has saved city residents more than $15.5 million in annual insurance premiums.
CENTER FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
CITY OF NEW YORK
Implements and evaluates innovative anti-poverty initiatives, rigorously analyzes their outcomes, and makes funding decisions based on program performance.
COMMONWEALTH HEALTH INSURANCE CONNECTOR AUTHORITY
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
An independent Massachusetts agency that implements many of the provisions of the state’s landmark 2006 health care reform law.
CRISIS AND ACCESS LINE
STATE OF GEORGIA
A 24/7 line that provides callers with crisis intervention and access to behavioral health services. The service employs flexible software to triage calls, identify treatment options, and make real-time linkage to providers. This effort removes key barriers to service access and achieves significant cost-savings.
DATA FEEDS: DEMOCRATIZATION OF GOVERNMENT DATA
Improves the utility and transparency of the District of Columbia government data by providing a centralized access point with a focus on delivering real-time operational information from multiple agencies.
EMERGING CONTAMINANTS PROGRAM
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Promotes proactive, integrated risk management of chemicals used by the Department of Defense to facilitate informed risk-based decisions that better protect the environment and serve the department’s operational capacities.
HIGHER EDUCATION INITIATIVE
CITY OF KINGSPORT, TENN.
Revitalized an ailing economy in the northeastern Tennessee city of Kingsport by improving the overall education level of its labor force.
MAPPING EVAPOTRANSPIRATION FROM SATELLITES
STATE OF IDAHO
Produces detailed images of evapotranspiration, enhancing the understanding of local and regional water-demand issues.
CITY OF LOUISVILLE, KY.
A partnership of public sector agencies that have come together to create a network of community-based “one-stop” service centers. The purpose is to provide blended and accessible health, education, employment, and human services that support Louisville’s children and families in their progress toward self-sufficiency.
ONLINE INMATE INFORMATION AND JAIL VISIT RESERVATION
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.
An application that allows approved users to look up inmate information and schedule inmate visits via the Santa Clara County’s Web site.
PRIMARY CARE ACCESS NETWORK
ORANGE COUNTY, FLA.
A creative governance and implementation model composed of community health care provider agencies that have joined together to expand and enhance health care services to uninsured residents throughout Orange County.
RESIDENTIAL ABANDONED PROPERTY PROGRAM
CITY OF CHULA VISTA, CALIF.
Addresses the adverse conditions and blight caused by vacant, abandoned, and financially distressed residential properties, by affirmatively placing responsibility for security and maintenance on mortgage holders.
VIDEO SERVICE DELIVERY
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Offers a widespread video service delivery network that drastically enhances service to American Indian nations and rural area residents.
MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WIS.
Community-based system of care, which provides comprehensive, highly individualized, family-directed services to youth having serious emotional and mental health needs and to their families.