History

Nominations for the 2019 Innovations in American Government Award are now closed. Please email innovations@harvard.edu with any questions.

The Innovations in American Government Awards program is a significant force in recognizing and promoting excellence and creativity in the public sector. Through its awards competition, the program provides concrete evidence that government can work to improve the quality of life for citizens and that it deserves greater public trust.

Many award-winning programs have been replicated across jurisdictions and policy areas, and some have served as harbingers of today's reform strategies or as forerunners to state and federal legislation. By highlighting exemplary models of government's innovative performance, the Innovations Award program serves as a catalyst for continued progress in addressing the nation's most pressing public concerns.

Innovations Award winners receive national press attention, serve as examples of model programs worthy of replication, and spark research and teaching cases at Harvard University and other schools across the country.

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 levels. In 1995, the Innovations Awards were expanded to incorporate innovations in the federal government.

In the spring of 2001, the Ford Foundation presented Harvard Kennedy School with a grant that endows Innovations in American Government Awards in perpetuity and houses it within the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

In January 2010, the Innovations Program launched the Bright Ideas initiative.

In 2018, our most recent Award cycle, Rhode Island's Works Wonders took home the top prize. To learn more about past winners of the award, please visit our Government Innovators Network.