Ash Center Director Anthony Saich, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Innovations in Government Director Stephen Goldsmith, and New York City Acquisition Fund Team at 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.. New York City’s Acquisition Fund is a $230 million partnership that finances the purchase of land and buildings for affordable housing. It was one of the winners of the 2008 Innovations in American Government Awards. Image courtesy of Sam Kittner.
Innovation awards play a critical role in highlighting innovative programmes and projects within government. One prominent example is the Innovations in American Government Awards Programme, organised by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Through its prestigious annual awards competition, the programme has served to highlight innovative projects within fields as diverse as youth justice, environmental management, education, public health and e-governance, and acted as a catalyst for continued innovation in dealing with some of society’s most pressing public concerns. “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.” Since 1986, the Innovations in American Government Awards have recognized over 400 public sector initiatives that have led to 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. South Africa set up the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) in 2002 and now runs regular awards. There are similar awards in various countries including Brazil and Denmark.