Cambridge, Mass. – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School today announced the results of the Celebrating 20 Years of Government Innovation: 20th Anniversary Survey Report of the Innovations in American Government Award Winners. This report offers findings and subsequent analysis of the winners of the Innovations in American Government (IAG) Awards honored between 1986 and 2007. The findings were released at the Institute’s “Frontiers of Innovation: Celebrating 20 Years of Innovation in Government” conference held March 31 through April 2, 2008.
Established in 1986 at Harvard Kennedy School by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Awards Program has honored 181 federal, state, and local government agencies over its 20 year history. The Program provides concrete evidence that government can work to improve the quality of life of citizens. Many award-winning programs have been replicated across jurisdictions and policy areas and serve as forerunners for today’s reform strategies and new legislation.
Designed to gather quantitative and qualitative data on program dissemination and replication, the survey was distributed via email in January of 2008. The Celebrating 20 Years of Government Innovation survey report is made up of 91 responses from the total pool of 181 past IAG winners. Key findings include:
• The Innovations Award enhances winning programs’ public profile and is instrumental to continued success: 87 percent of respondents stated winning the Innovations Award had some to substantial impact on program credibility, expansion efforts, and continued success.
• Past Innovations winners are the forerunners for policy and legislation improvements: 55.3 percent of respondents reported driving new legislation initiatives and 63.5 percent have forwarded policy recommendations.
• Innovative government programs are sharing best practices and replicating program successes across the country: 78 percent of past award-winning IAG programs have been replicated in outside jurisdictional sites.
• Leadership and a strong emphasis on outside engagement are key elements to the transferability of innovative programs: 90.1 percent of programs that replicated their innovations did so through a strong commitment from program leadership.
• IAG Award winners continue to receive national brand recognition: 80 percent report national recognition, 70.7 percent report regional recognition, and 69.3 percent report local recognition.
• IAG Award winners continue to receive media and academic coverage: 80 percent of responding programs are covered by the press and 71.8 percent have been the subject of academic journals and research.
The geographic distribution of the pool of winners reflects the distribution of the US population with 20.4 percent from the South; 27.1 percent from the Northeast; 18.2 percent from the Midwest; and 21 percent from the West. 13.3 percent of IAG winners are federal government programs; 26.5 percent are from cities and towns; 14.9 percent are from counties; and 36.5 percent are from states. Programs encompass a wide array of policy areas: 24.9 percent address health care and social services; 23.8 percent support community and economic development areas; and 13.8 percent focus on transportation, infrastructure, and environment issues.
"These findings show that Innovations in American Government Award winners, honored over the Program's 20 year history, are positively driving changes in policy and legislation, which improves the lives of citizens," said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Awards Program, Harvard Kennedy School.
“As we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Innovations in American Government Awards Program, this survey report offers an enormous opportunity for us to reflect back upon how innovations have transformed government for the better,” said Gowher Rizvi, director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School. “In honoring the achievements of past winners, we reaffirm our commitment to furthering such creative ideas on a global scale.”
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About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Roy and Lila 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. The Ford Foundation is a founding donor of the Center. Additional information about the Ash Center is available at www.ash.harvard.edu.