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Ford-Kennedy Honors 10 for Public Innovation.

The annual Innovations in American Government Awards were presented on October 12, 2000 to 10 outstanding examples of government at its best.

NLC Member, the City of New York, was among these noteworthy for its Partnership for Parks program through which government plays a central role in starting and supporting neighborhood-based groups that will serve as park partners and advocates, especially in struggling neighborhoods.

NLC associate member, Department of Housing and Urban Development was also an award winner for the Hope VI Mixed-Finance Public Housing program.

The awards luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. honored both the 10 winners and the 25 finalists from which they were chosen. Each of the winning programs was awarded a $100,000 grant and national recognition for being a model of how creative thinking can be a powerful tool for meeting the challenges that face government at every level, day in and day out. NLC members Baltimore County, Md., San Francisco County, Calif., and the City of Milwaukee, Wis. were among the 25 finalists, as was the City of New York with a second entry. (See box for a complete list of winners.)

Honorees were lauded by host David Gergen, editor-at-large of U.S. News and World Report, who chairs the award's National Selection Committee of public policy experts and former public officials. More than 1,300 entries were submitted, then narrowed to a field of 100 semi-finalists, before the 25 finalists and the 10 ultimate winners were chosen.

The efforts of this year's winners were cited for a wide array of positive, successful approaches for coping with some of the nation's most vexing problems. The winning programs included initiatives to reclaim blighted urban areas, control sprawl and preserve open spaces, offer alternatives for public schools and establish a new vision of public housing.

Other programs worked to improve conditions in mental hospitals, help to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, increase public support for urban parks, improve the efficiency of government, combine the best of technology and traditional education and work to provide better health care for offenders who later rejoin the general population.

The innovative efforts of these programs also have improved the lives of senior citizens and children, helped to preserve and protect natural resources. All of these programs were commended for keeping faith with taxpayers by making the best possible services available in the most cost-effective ways

"With less than four weeks until we elect local, state and federal leaders, it is appropriate to step back from the heat of the campaign to reflect on just how vital and creative government can be," said Gergen. "Our winners this year suggest that the wave of innovation in government is gaining strong momentum, a promising sign for the future."

The Innovations in American Government Awards program is one of the nation's most prestigious public service awards competition. It is funded by the Ford Foundations and administered by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government.

The Winners

Minnesota Charter School Law State of Minnesota

The Minnesota Legislature authorized sponsors other than school districts to organize the nation's first independent public charter schools.

Metro Commute Partnerships King County, Washington

Succeeds in getting commuters out of cars by working collaboratively with employers; helps employers jump-start subsidy programs for employees' alternative commutes.

Mental Hospital Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Initiative Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Safely and significantly reduces the use of seclusion and restraint in state mental hospitals.

Partnerships for Parks City of New York (NLC MEMBER)

Government plays central role in starting and supporting neighborhood-based groups that will serve as park partners and advocates, especially in struggling neighborhoods.

Performance Based Contracting State of Illinois

Dramatically boosted the number of children moved form temporary care placements through a renewed focus of specific outcomes and financial incentives for providers.

Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation State of Maryland

The nation's first statewide incentive-based effort to discourage sprawl; uses the State's $19 billion budget to help encourage better-planned growth.

Perritech City of Perry, Ohio

Offers students industry recognized technology certification programs, and evidence that American students can compete at world-class standards in the classroom and on the job.

Public Health Model for Corrections Hampden County, Massachusetts

Provides inmates medical care at community standards and assures continuing health care after release from jail.

Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Program U.S. Federal Government (EPA)

Empowers citizens and encourages innovative methods of cleaning and safely reusing blighted properties.

HOPE VI Mixed-Finance Public Housing U.S. Federal Government (HUD)

Transforming the fundamentals of U.S. public housing of the past with attractive new mixed-income communities.
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Title Annotation:Innovations in American Government Award
Author:Fine, Evelyn
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 23, 2000
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