Innovations in American Government Award Finalists Announced

Contact: Doug Gavel
Phone: (617) 495-1115
Date: November 26, 2013

Cambridge, MA –The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School today announced the finalists for the Innovations in American Government Award. These five programs represent innovations at the city, county, state, and federal levels of government and were selected from a pool of more than 600 applicants following rigorous rounds of evaluation. The Innovations Award winner will be announced later this year.
Funded by the Ford Foundation, the Innovations in American Government Award 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 government entities. Past winners offer unique solutions to a range of issues including economic opportunity, public health, education, juvenile justice, and environmental management. Many programs act as harbingers for reform, and often inform research and academic study around key policy areas both at Harvard Kennedy School and academic institutions worldwide.
“These finalists demonstrate the many ways innovative leaders build engaged, healthy, and safe communities through public-sector innovation” said Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government, director of the Innovations in American Government Program, and previous Innovations Award winner. “We are pleased to recognize these innovative initiatives, and encourage other government entities to replicate their effective solutions to public problems.”
This year’s finalists are:
General Services Administration is the federal government’s online portal for running challenge and prize competitions. Challenges allow the government to crowdsource solutions to problems in a contest format, bringing diversity in solutions and contributors. This is a pay-for performance model that saves money on key initiatives and broadly drives innovation within and beyond government.
Healthy Incentives
King County, WA
King County saved $46 million on employee health care by supporting health improvements and encouraging use of higher quality health care. A benefit plan rewards employees with lower out-of-pocket expenses for choosing quality healthcare and participating in wellness activities, while work through a regional collaborative drives healthcare quality improvements.
Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
City of Boston, MA
The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) offers an approach to civic innovation focused on delivering transformative city services to residents. MONUM focuses on a broad range of areas from increasing civic participation and improving city streets, to boosting educational outcomes.
Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative
Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Treasury
The Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) is a federal strategy that aligns and targets efforts of the Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Treasury to revitalize the nation’s most distressed neighborhoods. Through interventions addressing persistent crime, failing schools, crumbling housing, and health disparities, NRI tackles the interconnected causes of neighborhood distress.
Smart Roadside Inspection System
State of New Mexico
The Smart Roadside Inspection System identifies high-risk trucks without interfering with the flow of commerce by integrating specialized roadside imaging systems with multiple back-end data networks that instantaneously synthesize disparate pools of data into valuable information.
The Innovations in American Government Awards was created by the Ford Foundation in 1985 in response to widespread pessimism and distrust in government’s effectiveness. Since its inception, nearly 500 government innovations across all jurisdiction levels have been recognized and have collectively received more than $20 million in grants to support dissemination efforts.
About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education, and public discussion. Three major programs support our mission: the Program on Democratic Governance; the Innovations in Government Program; and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia. For more information, visit


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