As part of its tenth anniversary series examining challenges to American democracy, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School is pleased to announce the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government, a special $100,000 award in public engagement and participation.

The Award for Public Engagement in Government will be administered as part of the Ash Center’s existing Innovations in American Government Awards Program, the nation's premier awards program for good government. Since 1985, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University has sponsored the Innovations Program, which has recognized nearly 500 government initiatives and given over $20 million in grants. The award is being offered in conjunction with the Challenges to Democracy initiative, a public dialogue series that commemorates the center’s tenth anniversary by hosting nationally recognized scholars, policymakers, journalists, and artists in a public dialogue examining the challenges and potential solutions to American democracy.

“Understanding how best to improve and promote interactions between government and its citizens has always been one of the primary goals of the Ash Center,” said Professor Tony Saich, director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. “By launching this special public engagement award, the Ash Center hopes to more robustly contribute to the body of knowledge, which in essence underpins democratic governance in the 21st century,” added Saich.

The Award for Public Engagement in Government will highlight government programs, policies, and initiatives aimed at encouraging public participation in a range of budgetary, regulatory, and policy decisions. The center also intends to recognize those efforts that successfully employ digital technology and crowdsourcing techniques to broaden public involvement in government decision-making and drive problem-solving.

“Digital platforms are revolutionizing the manner in which citizens interact with and engage government,” observes Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Awards Program. “By leveraging the prominence of the Innovations Awards, we are able to promote the issue of public engagement in government in a way we never have before,” said Goldsmith.

The Ash Center invites nominations and applications for the Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government from all levels of government in the United States — federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial — and their partners. Applicants will be judged on the standard Innovations in American Government Awards criteria of novelty, effectiveness, significance, and transferability. The center’s experts will also take into consideration such factors as the number of people reached, the diversity of people engaged, the extent of public input on public policy and on quality of governance, and the level of citizen engagement in finding solutions to public problems.

Applications for the new award and for the Innovations in American Government Awards are available online now and are due June 20, 2014.

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education and public discussion. Three major programs support our mission: the Program on Democratic Governance; the Innovations in Government Program; and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia. For more information, visit

Challenges to Democracy

This special award is part of the Ash Center’s ongoing Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series hosted in commemoration of the center’s 10th anniversary. The goal of the two-year series is not simply to name the greatest threats facing democracy in the United States today, but to put forward and give due attention to the promising solutions we need. Please visit to find more information and sign up for updates and invitation to future events, read notable ideas from past events, dig deeper into the greatest threats to democracy and the most promising solutions, and offer your own comments and contributions.

For more information, contact: Daniel Harsha, Ash Center, 617-495-4347,