Innovation award semifinalists chosen

Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard

Fifty semifinalists, including several technology- or Internet-based federal programs, were picked for this year's Innovations in American Government Awards, referred to as the Oscars of good government honors.

Sponsored by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, this year's field also included public-sector programs from 15 separate states, 21 localities, three charter schools and one from an American Indian nation.

They include innovators in education, electronic government, environmental quality, management and human services. Criteria used to evaluate each application, included novelty, effectiveness in addressing important problems, significance and potential for replication.

Selected from nearly 1,000 applicants, a panel will further whittle the 50 semifinalists down to a field of 15 by March. Five winning programs will be announced July 28 in Washington, D.C., each receiving $100,000 grants to promote and replicate their efforts. The award is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government.

Notable among the 10 nominated federal programs are:

* ClinicalTrials.gov, developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, is a site that provides patients, their relatives, health professionals and the public information on federally and privately supported clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions. (http://clinicaltrials.gov)

* HHS also developed the Contractor Performance System, which is an interactive program that collects and shares data on federal contractors' performance. (http://cps.od.nih.gov/)

* FedBizOpps, developed by the General Services Administration, advertises governmentwide business opportunities online and provides instant access to solicitation information. (www.fedbizopps.gov)

* The Justice Department's Performance-based Standards for Juvenile Correction Facilities is a self-improvement and accountability system used by 115 volunteer sites in 27 states to better the quality of life for youths in custody. (www.performancebasedstandards.org and www.cjca.net)

* The Agriculture Department's PLANTS Web Site, which provides diverse, taxonomically standardized information about land plants to promote sound land management and ecologically healthy landscapes. It provides an electronic national standard for exchanging natural resource information about plants. (http://plants.usda.gov)

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