2009 Innovations in American Government Award Winners Announced

September 15, 2009
2009 Innovations in American Government Award Winners Announced

Harvard University's Ash Institute Honors Six Government Programs

Cambridge, Mass. – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University today announced the 2009 winners of the Innovations in American Government Awards. Honored at yesterday’s reception at the Decatur House in Washington, D.C., this year’s award winners demonstrate unique solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing issues including economic development, education, mental health, health insurance, government transparency, and water scarcity. Such initiatives represent innovative government programs in two states, two cities, one county, and one school district and will receive grants toward sharing such innovative practices around the country.

Ash Center Director Anthony Saich and Innovations in American Government Awards Director Stephen Goldsmith made opening remarks. The event concluded with the premier of 2009 Visionaries, a PBS-produced documentary highlighting all winners’ innovations.

The Winners
The following government programs are 2009 Innovations in American Government Award winners:

“We congratulate this year’s winners of the Innovations in American Government Awards,” said Anthony Saich, director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School. “Such public sector innovations demonstrate creative approaches to previously intractable civic challenges and prove instrumental in enhancing scholarly research and academic study of government innovation.”

Chosen from an initial pool of nearly 700 applicants, the 2009 Innovations winners underwent several rounds of rigorous review and on site evaluation. The National Selection Committee chaired by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend made the final decision after reviewing 16 government finalists at a spring forum event at Harvard Kennedy School. Made up of a host of academics, practitioners, and former public officials, the National Selection Committee determines winners based on the following criteria:

      • Novelty – Degree to which the program demonstrates a leap of creativity
      • Significance – Degree to which the program successfully addresses an important problem of public concern
      • Effectiveness – Degree to which the program has achieved tangible results
      • Transferability – Degree to which the program, or aspects of it, shows promise of inspiring successful replication by other governmental entities

“Many past winners of the Innovations in American Government Awards have influenced reform and serve as harbingers for today’s national legislation,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard Kennedy School. “Notable past winners include CompStat, New York City’s crime reduction tool, and One Church One Child, Illinois’s minority church and adoption agency collaboration.”

The Winners in Detail
The Higher Education Initiative of Kingsport, Tennessee, has revitalized a formerly depressed rustbelt region by improving the academic outcomes of its residents and adapting curricula to meet the workforce needs of the medical technology, healthcare, and information technology industries now moving to the area.

New Leaders for New Schools of the Chicago Public School District shares Kingsport’s emphasis on academic achievement. The program recruits and trains high caliber principals to lead historically underserved and underperforming urban schools. The program reports improved proficiency scores and higher high school graduation rates of students.

Much like the New Leaders program, Wraparound Milwaukee addresses the gaps in support to underserved youth. As the country’s first government-operated managed care program for emotionally disturbed youth, the program’s individualized treatments allow youth to stay at home with their families instead of in arguably ineffective residential institutions.

While Milwaukee’s program focuses health care efforts on a select population, the Commonwealth Health care Connector Authority of Massachusetts increases access to health insurance for all Massachusetts citizens, a central mandate of the state’s health reform law of 2006. The state’s innovation is a key focus of the national health care debate as the country explores ways to expand access and reduce costs to health care.

Other Innovations winners demonstrate creative uses of technology to encourage government’s effectiveness. Idaho’s Mapping Evapotranspiration program enhances the understanding of agricultural water usage in the state through the development of satellite technology. This information is integral to settling water demand conflicts and preserving wildlife habitats.

Accurate, real time data is also a cornerstone of the District of Columbia’s Data Feeds: Democratization of Government Data. Instead of producing edited, static reports detailing data that is outdated by press time, DC’s program is the first government initiative in the country to make virtually all current city government data available in real time, online, and in its raw form. The program reports increased civic awareness and improved government accountability to citizens.

Academic Impact
Since 1986, the Innovations in American Government Awards has recognized over 400 public sector initiatives that forward innovative practices that benefit citizens. Throughout its history, the program has generated a wealth of research based on award-winning government innovations and the study of how innovation occurs. More than 450 Harvard courses and over 2,250 courses worldwide have incorporated Innovations in American Government case studies including Milano Graduate School, University of West Indies, and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The Ford Foundation is a founding donor of the Innovations in American Government Awards.

For more information, please contact:
Kate Hoagland
Ash Center

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.