Yesterday, the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government -- in cooperation with the Council for Excellence in Government -- announced its picks for the Top 50 Government Innovations for 2006.

The successful programs range from a U.S. Military Academy video game to a pollution prevention program in Hawaii . . . from an online job matching service in Texas to a vehicle-sharing program in Philadelphia . . . and from an economic development strategy for Native American tribes to a special reading program for juvenile offenders in Wisconsin.

These public-sector programs are now semifinalists for the Innovations in American Government Awards and are eligible to win one of seven $100,000 grants.

The selection committee chose the Top 50 programs, representing governments at the federal, tribal, state, county and city levels, for their: novelty and creativity, effectiveness at addressing significant issues and problems and ability to be replicated by other jurisdictions. The programs represent governments' best efforts in the areas of education and training, criminal justice and public safety, economic and community development, housing, health and social services, management, transportation, public works and environment.

Of the Top 50 programs named, 21 are state-run efforts, 13 are federal initiatives (including three from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and one run by a tribal government. Seven county programs, seven city programs and two school districts are also among those chosen. There are five from or within Pennsylvania, and three programs from or within both Washington State and Wisconsin. Other states with multiple honors include: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts and New York (all with two each).

Eighteen finalists, chosen from among the 50, will be announced on May 4 during Public Service Recognition Week. The National Selection Committee on Innovation in American Government will then select five winners in addition to two special awards: the Annie E. Casey Foundation Innovations Award for Children and Family Services, and the Fannie Mae Foundation Award for Innovation in Affordable Housing. These seven recipients of $100,000 awards will be announced on July 10 at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

PDF Download of the Top 50 Programs