Since its inception in 1985, the Innovations in American Government Awards has identified and celebrated outstanding examples of creative problem solving at the state, city, town, county, tribal, and territorial government level. In 1995, the Innovations Awards were expanded to incorporate innovations in the federal government. For the 2017–2018 award cycle, programs, policies, and initiatives related to expanding employment opportunities, skills training and development, job placement and retention, wage advancement, entrepreneurialism, equitable economic development, poverty alleviation, wealth building, and financial literacy and empowerment are eligible to apply.
All units of government—federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial—within the United States of America are eligible for consideration for the Awards under the following guidelines:
- Programs or initiatives must be administered under the authority of one or more governmental entities
- Programs or initiatives must have been implemented at least 12 months prior to the date of submission, i.e., for the 2017–2018 competition, the program must have been launched prior to December 1, 2016
- Programs or initiatives must be currently in operation
- Applications must be submitted by the governmental entity responsible for the innovation; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible only with significant governmental involvement and oversight
While the Innovations in American Government Awards encompasses all levels of American government, it focuses primarily on domestic programs. Innovations that arise within defense and international agencies are eligible if they have significant domestic policy content (such as job training, base conversion, procurement reform, energy conservation, or environmental protection). Weapons systems will not be considered.