HUD, EPA programs win top public service awards

klunney@govexec.com

Federal programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency walked away with top honors Thursday at the Innovations in American Government Awards in Washington.

A public housing program creating mixed-income communities and an economic redevelopment initiative that cleans up abandoned properties were among the ten winners of $100,000 awards from the Ford Foundation for original and effective government programs.

This year, more than 1,300 applicants from federal, state, county and city governments, school districts, tribal governments and government corporations vied for the top honors. Applicants were narrowed down to twenty-five finalists-including five federal programs-which competed for $100,000 prizes.

Since 1986, the Innovations in American Government Awards, which are funded by the Ford Foundation and administered by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Council for Excellence in Government, have honored creative government programs that help solve economic and social problems. Winning programs must be original, effective and capable of being replicated nationwide.

HUD's award-winning HOPE IV program revitalizes bleak inner city housing projects and replaces them with attractive townhouses and garden-style apartments in an effort to create mixed-income communities. The program also provides job training for residents.

EPA's Brownfields Economic Redevelopment program cleans up and redevelops abandoned industrial and manufacturing sites, spurring economic and environmental revitalization in depressed communities.

Both programs were recognized for fostering strong public-private partnerships and for being creative in their approaches to tackling social and economic problems. The Brownfields initiative provides funding to local communities to come up with creative ways to clean up contaminated properties. HOPE VI promotes self-sufficiency among housing residents, making sure they have the education, job training and other skills necessary to succeed in life.

Other federal programs among the 25 finalists included:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for its innovative use of technology to apply safety and health regulations to specific workplaces.
  • The Office of Personnel Management, for its work in privatizing its Office of Investigations into the U.S. Investigations Service, the first federal agency privatized as an employee-owned firm.
  • The Veterans Health Administration's National Center for Patient Safety, for its systemic approach to preventing medical errors and developing a culture of safety at VHA's 172 medical centers.
Last year, five HUD programs-including HOPE VI-and three EPA programs were among the finalists.

For a complete list of the 2000 Innovations in American Government award-winners go to www.innovations.harvard.edu/2000-Winners.

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