Published February 4, 2020

NACo is closing in on their 2020 Achievement Awards deadline, coming up on March 30th. In celebration of 50 years of county innovation, they are encouraging counties, parishes, and boroughs across the country to submit their most innovative programs to be highlighted at a national level.

What is the Achievement Awards Program?

The Achievement Awards Program is a non-competitive awards program that seeks to recognize innovative county government programs. One outstanding program from each category will be selected as the “Best of Category.”

Eligibility & Criteria

What is Required to Apply?

For each program nominated, general information, program summaries and payments must be must be submitted to the National Association of Counties (NACo) via the online application portal and payments processed via P.O. must be postmarked by the application deadline. For more information, please see the HOW TO APPLY section. Judging and review will not take place for unpaid or incomplete applications.

Who is Eligible to Submit applications?

Only county governments and state associations of counties are eligible to submit applications. There is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by a single entity. Regional partners are welcome to submit applications for a collective project; however submitters must identify a single county or state association to submit the application on the group’s behalf.

What are the Eligibility Standards?
  1. The start date of the program must be explicitly stated; the program must have become operational after January 1, 2015 and must have measurable results.
  2. County officials and/or staff, as part of their official duties, must have played a significant role in developing and implementing the program, with limited assistance from outside technical experts and/or consultants.
  3. All steps in the application process must be completed and all application fees must be paid in full by March 30, 2020 at 11:59 PM EST.
  4. The program must meet the conditions outlined in the next section, PROGRAM CRITERIA.
Program Criteria

In order to be eligible for an Achievement Award, all programs must meet the following criteria:

  1. Programs must accomplish one or more of the following:
    • Offer new services to county residents, fill gaps in the availability of services, fill gaps in or tap new revenue sources
    • Improve the administration of an existing county government program
    • Upgrade the working conditions or level of training for county employees. Enhance the level of citizen participation in, or the understanding of, government programs
    • Provide information that facilitates effective public policy making
    • Promote intergovernmental cooperation and coordination in addressing shared problems
  2. In the case of a program that is in response to a federal or state law, regulation or order, the program must go beyond mere compliance with the statute, regulation or order and must display a creative approach to meeting those requirements.
  3. The program must have measurable results (e.g. cost savings, enhanced employee productivity, improved constituent services, created better intergovernmental cooperation).
  4. The program must be innovative and not rely on techniques or procedures that are common practice in most counties of similar population or size.
  5. All aspects of the program must be consistent with acceptable governmental and financial management practices and must promote general governmental accountability.
Ineligible Programs Include:
  • Programs designed to influence laws or regulations
  • Certification or accreditation programs
  • Events that ONLY take place one time, such as conducting a conference, the formation of a task force or the establishment of a committee
  • Programs that are adopted, whole or in part, from other public or private entities
  • Programs, whole or in part, that have received a previous NACo Achievement Award
  • Programs that the purchase of new technology or equipment, the construction of a building or the privatization/contracting out of a function
  • A newsletter or a publication