Gov't Programs Given Awards for Innovation

The Kennedy School of Government and the Ford Foundation have granted 15 local, state and federal government programs $100,000 each to reward their creative and effective problem-solving methods.

The Innovations in American Government Awards program is designed to recognize exemplary initiatives that respond to the country's social and economic issues. It is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by the Kennedy School.

Fifteen runners-up will receive awards of $20,000 each.

Nine of the winners are state and local programs; six are federal agencies.

The only Massachusetts winner, Elder CHOICE, funds low-income housing for elderly people who might otherwise be placed in nursing homes.

Among the other winners were the Civil Enforcement Initiative, a program in New York City which pairs lawyers and police officers to help them target minor crime in city neighborhoods, and a U.S. Air Force program designed to reduce ozone depletion by cleaning and repairing missile guidance and aircraft navigation systems.

This is the first year federal agencies were able to qualify for the Innovations award, which attracted more than 1,450 applicants.

"The demands on American government--at all levels--have never been greater," said Franklin A. Thomas, president of the Ford Foundation, in a written statement, "We are challenged to provide opportunities for all Americans to prosper and to help solve their communities' problems. And, in this time of fiscal constraints, we are challenged to find ways to do more with less."

The National Committee on Innovations in American Government conducted the award selection process. Barbara Roberts, director of the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the Kennedy School, was one of the committee members.

The Ford Foundation--a private, nonprofit institution--has an endowment of $7 billion, which it uses to fund innovative individuals and institutions who undertake projects devoted to democracy, international cooperation and human achievement.

The other state and local programs receiving the award are GENESIS: Healthy Young Families, in Boulder, Colorado.; the Hillsborough County Health Care Plan in Florida; Competition and Costing in Indianapolis, Ind.; City Work in Louisville, Kentucky.; the Hamilton Terrace Learning Center in Shreveport, Louisiana; the Center for Technology in Government in New York; the Civil Enforcement Initiative in New York City; and Project QUEST in San Antonio, Texas.

The other federal programs receiving the award are "National Defense on the Offense," the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency; "Reinvention of the Bureau of Reclamation," the U.S. Department of the Interior; "Operation Jobs," the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service; "Farly Warning Program," the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation; and "Maine Top 200 Experimental Targeting Program," the Occupational Safety and Health Administration