City's Internet innovation honored
- By William Matthews
- Sep 03, 2001
A program that brings free Internet access to a city's residents, the FirstGov
Web portal and a child welfare program are technology projects selected
as finalists for the Innovations in American Government Awards.
State and local government finalists include the Internet TV Initiative
in LaGrange, Ga., in which the city offers broadband Internet and e-mail
capabilities to every household free of charge via cable television. Another
winner is Oklahoma's OK-FIRST project, which enables local public-safety
officials to make informed decisions in bad weather through a decision-support
system with real-time weather data.
The awards presented annually by the Institute for Government Innovation
at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in partnership
with the Council for Excellence in Government recognize programs that
demonstrate excellence and creativity in government. A dozen state and local
government projects were also selected as finalists. Not all of the award
finalists are technology-related.
The FirstGov portal was cited because it creates a single entry point
for gaining access to multiple government Web sites that provide information
The portal provides instant access to 47 million federal and state Web
pages that permit functions as varied as applying for student loans, searching
for jobs, renewing driver's licenses and filing taxes.
According to award officials, the portal is changing the way government
leaders think about online services.
Programs selected as finalists are awarded $20,000 each. Five winning
programs will be selected Oct. 17 and will receive $100,000 each.
Another federal finalist is the Child Welfare Outcomes Initiative run
by the Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau. The HHS
initiative is credited with helping increase adoptions by 64 percent since
1996 and working with federal officials to uncover strengths and shortcomings
of child welfare programs.
The third federal finalist was the Department of Veterans Affairs' National
Center for Patient Safety. The 4-year-old center encourages health care
workers to report errors and close calls so that medical centers can study
them and learn from the mistakes.