Howard Wins Seven NACo Awards for Innovative Governance

National Association of Counties (NACo) awarded seven 2019 Achievement Awards to Howard County to honor innovative, effective government programs that strengthen services for residents. 

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball yesterday announced that the National Association of Counties (NACo) has selected Howard County for seven 2019 Achievement Awards. The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

According to a press release:

“Howard County will build a reputation as the most innovative and effective government in the region by solving the problems of today with the ideas of tomorrow. These awards reflect the incredible work being done throughout Howard County government,” said Ball. “NACo represents 3,069 county governments across the nation. To receive a record seven awards is historic for Howard County and demonstrates the unparalleled dedication, ingenuity, and innovation of our employees. This is our first year with such profound awards recognition, but it will not be our last. We will continue to be a national leader in good governance and exciting new programs. I am grateful to everyone who works every day to make Howard County the best county in our country.”

“These historic NACo Awards wins for Howard County are cause for celebration,” said Chief Innovation Officer and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Angela Lagdameo Cabellon. “This administration continues to build a culture of innovation in Howard County and the rest of the nation is taking notice. I want to thank every department for their commitment to moving our government forward with improved efficiency and bold new ideas.”

NACo has announced the following awards for Howard County:

Criminal Justice and Public Safety Award: Guilford Transition House
The Guilford Transition House is operated by Bridges to Housing Stability in partnership with Howard County’s Department of Corrections and the Department of Housing and Community Development. The intent is to provide transitional shelter for up to 24 months to returning citizens leaving the county’s detention center. The house fills a critical need for some of the most vulnerable residents in the county. Receiving safe, stable housing first allows residents to focus their time and energy on finding a job, completing their education, making financial decisions and planning for their future.

Transportation Award: Bridge Columbia Survey and Outreach Program
The Downtown Columbia bridge had to close for 3 months of construction. Since the bridge serves such an essential transportation function—enabling residents to access jobs and public transit in downtown Columbia—Howard County implemented a new model for mitigating a closed transportation facility. Five months prior to the closure, the county conducted an intercept survey on the bridge, interviewing trail users to determine how best to mitigate the closure. Based on the results of these interviews, the county provided free bus passes to affected users, a taxi voucher program for those who commute during non-transit hours, and a signed bicycle detour. These mitigations enabled bridge users to access their workplaces and schools and the county to complete the work with minimal disruption. This program of research and outreach on closed transportation facilities can be used as a model for future closures, including that which will be needed for anticipated improvements to the Patuxent Branch Trail.

Information Technology Award: CAREAPP Project 
The Howard County Health Department developed and deployed a web-based platform, called CAREAPP (Community Access to Resources through Enhanced Technology Applications for Providers and Public) to connect residents with needed resources that impact a person’s well-being. This community-wide project, funded by Howard County government, focuses on creating a comprehensive web-based, searchable directory of resources and an online referral system.

Children and Youth Award: School-Based Telemedicine Program
The Howard County Health Department and school system partnered to implement Maryland’s first school-based telemedicine program. The program is an innovative, cost-effective program with measurable success in providing school children prompt access to health care in a cost-effective manner and reducing absenteeism and missed class time. Local pediatric emergency room physicians and clinicians in two pediatric practices diagnosis and treat common childhood illnesses, such as asthma, via a secure video link that transmits real-time images of the body and conveys lung and heart sounds.

Finance Award: UtilliCX Mobile Billing Application
This advanced, user-friendly, technologically savvy, online tool allows customers to view and manage their water & sewer account online. The UtilliCX solution has helped Howard County reduce customer service call volume and provided a way for customers to maintain their own account. The solution provides transaction logs for additional security as well as reporting and reconciliation tools for the Howard County team. It also provides the ability to send out mass notifications to the customers as needed.

Health Award: Roving Radish 
The Roving Radish has a mission to promote healthy eating, support local farms and connect our community. The Roving Radish achieves this mission by selling affordable, healthy, easy to make meal kits comprised of local produce and proteins. The program is offered to everyone in the community with a special focus on low-income families. The program is run by the Howard County Office of Community Sustainability by the Agricultural Coordinator with support from numerous partners.

Civic Education and Public Information Award: PlanHoward Academy
The PlanHoward Academy is a planning course designed by the Department of Planning and Zoning to give citizens a better understanding of how local government works, along with information about current planning efforts. The course also teaches users how to access web-based information, build relationships with county staff and learn about the plans, policies, and procedures that shape our county. This provides a great opportunity for residents to become better informed about the important role they play in shaping the county’s future.

NACo President Greg Cox said, “Counties implement innovative programs that enhance residents’ quality of life every day. This year’s Achievement Award-winning programs demonstrate how counties build healthy, safe and vibrant communities across America.”

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.

NACo will recognize award-winning counties at its 2019 Annual Conference and Exposition on July 12-15 in Clark County, Nevada.

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