Applications must be submitted by Feb. 21 for the 2013 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards recognize programs that modernize county government and increase services to county residents.

The awards program is non-competitive and applications are not judged against one another. Instead, each application is judged on its own merits based on criteria outlined in the application, according to NACo.

Awards are given in 21 categories including children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, environmental protection, information technology and health. Judges may also select some entries for a Best of Category Award.

To be considered, applications must be for programs started after Jan. 1, 2008. County officials or staff must have played a significant role in developing and implementing the program as part of their official duties. NACo provides a Frequently Asked Questions section about the program on its website.

The Achievement Awards program began in 1970. In 2012, counties recognized included Baldwin County, Ala., for its pre-trial and community corrections program; Maricopa County, Ariz., for its CASA website; San Diego County, Calif., for a child support employer webinar; DeKalb County, Ga., for a rebate program for county residents who retrofit inefficient toilets; York County, Va., for its County News Minute information program; and Pierce County, Wash., for an online program to obtain county permits.