Three federal programs were named finalists Wednesday in one of the most prestigious award programs dedicated to public service. The finalists in the Innovations in American Government Awards, administered by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government, each receive a $20,000 grant funded through a Ford Foundation endowment and are eligible for one of five $100,000 awards given for original and effective government programs. The funds are intended to help the organizations replicate their efforts in other areas. Applicants from federal, state, county and city governments, school districts, tribal governments and government corporations vie for the top honors, widely recognized as among the most prestigious public service awards in the country. The five winning programs will be honored on October 17. The Veterans Affairs Department's National Center for Patient Safety made the cut for its efforts to improve patient safety in its 173 medical centers. VA created the National Center for Patient Safety in 1998 to examine how and why medical mistakes happen and to encourage health care professionals to report errors. Now health care professionals share what were once traditionally unreported errors, so that others can learn from their mistakes. The Child Welfare Outcomes Initiative, a program of the Health and Human Services Department's Children's Bureau, was named an Innovations finalist for helping states deliver services to protect children. The program helps provide stability for children in foster care. Since its inception, foster care adoptions have increased by 64 percent. The General Services Administration's FirstGov Web site was recognized for serving as citizens' official gateway to government. The site is designed to give citizens one-stop access to government services and information and allows users to search the millions of federal government Web pages currently available on the Internet. FirstGov was financed at no cost to taxpayers through a foundation created by Eric Brewer, co-founder of Inktomi, a widely used Web search engine. For more information, see the Innovations in American Government Awards Web site.
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