21 Coveted Government Leadership Awards

Awards do so much more than inflate your professional ego. Receiving formal recognition for your leadership in or contributions to public service can boost your professional reputation with supervisors and colleagues, earn you credibility, and open doors to new opportunities. The award trophies make snazzy office decor, too.

Below you’ll find awards for which you or your agency might qualify. Or, perhaps there’s an award that would shine a much-deserved spotlight on one of your colleagues or partners in public service.

The emphasis is on awards for agencies at the federal, state, and local levels in the U.S., though a few are open worldwide. And, these awards are not limited to members of any particular organization.

Center for Digital Government’s Government Experience Awards

Next nomination period: April 6–June 6, 2017
Starting in 2017 the Center for Digital Government has replaced its Best of the Web awards with the Government Experience Awards. These awards will celebrate the achievements and learn best practices from states, cities, and counties that have gone beyond the web to radically improve upon the experience of government, and push the boundaries of how services are delivered. Top jurisdictions will be honored at a celebratory awards event in the fall.  The competition is open to all U.S. and North American government agencies at the state and local levels (some language restrictions apply). All projects, initiatives, apps, and websites must be in production and fully operational by the nomination deadline.

American Bar Association’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division Awards

Next nomination deadline: April 10, 2017
The American Bar Association‘s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division (GPSLD)’s awards program recognizes the extraordinary achievements of public lawyers and informs the public about the positive impact made by the U.S.’s public lawyers. Awards are given to outstanding public defenders or legal aid lawyers, as well as government or public sector law offices.

NextGen Public Service Awards

Next nomination deadline: May 26, 2017
Superior public service gets the attention it deserves through the annual NextGen Public Service Awards. The awards recognize individuals in the public service community for their intelligence, exuberance, and dedication to improving and invigorating government. Hosted by Young Government Leaders (YGL) and GovLoop, the awards are presented at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit, held July 27–28, 2017 in D.C.

Web Marketing Association’s WebAward Competition

Next nomination deadline: May 31, 2017
Web Marketing Association‘s WebAwards Competition includes a categories for best government, military, arts, education, and transportation websites. Judges evaluate websites based on seven criteria: design, ease of use, copywriting, interactivity, use of technology, innovation, and content. The WebAward Competition is open to all organizations and individuals involved in the process of developing web sites for organizations, companies, and the government. Web Marketing Association also hosts the MobileWebAward Competition (nominations open August 10, 2017) for sites and applications built or optimized for mobile devices, and the Internet Advertising Competition (IAC) Awards recognizing excellence in online advertising (next nomination deadline January 2018, expected).

Exemplary Systems in Government

Next nomination deadline: June 1, 2017
URISA‘s Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) Awards recognize extraordinary achievements in the use of geospatial information technology that have improved the delivery and quality of government services. The award competition is open to all public agencies at the federal, state/provincial, regional and local levels.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award Program

Nominations accepted on a rolling basis
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) runs the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality. The awards are open to any type of government (general-purpose or special-purpose) at either the state or local level. Submissions must be received within 90 days of when the budget was proposed/adopted. GFOA runs several other awards including for Best Practices in School Budgeting, for Small Government Cash Basis Reports, and for Excellence in Government Finance.


Next nomination period: April–May 2017 (expected)
The GCN DIG IT Awards (formerly the GCN Awards) celebrate leading-edge technologies and the pioneering IT professionals who are driving them forward. Awards are given in six tech categories: Big Data, Analytics & Visualization; Cloud & Infrastructure; Cybersecurity; Mobile; Robotics & Unmanned Systems; and Editor’s Choice.

Service to America Medals (SAMMIES)

Next nomination period: early fall 2017 through mid-January 2018 (expected)
Affectionately known as the SAMMIES, the Partnership for Public Service’s Service to America Medals are awarded to federal employees who demonstrates innovation, strong leadership and a passion for public service in their work. Winners represent the many federal employees whose work makes our country better, healthier and stronger.

Federal 100 Awards

Next nomination period: October–December 2017 (expected)
The Federal 100 Awards recognize government and industry leaders who have played pivotal roles in the federal government IT community—individuals who have gone above and beyond their daily responsibilities and have made a difference in the way technology has transformed their agency or accelerated their agency’s mission.

NASCIO Technology Champion Award

Next nomination period: opens December 2017
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Technology Champion Award honors outstanding contributions in the field of information technology in the public sector. Award recipients understand the fundamental role IT can play in efficient and effective government operations and advocate for sound IT solutions, policies, and practices. NASCIO hosts other awards, including State IT Recognition Awards (nominations accepted through May 4, 2017), the State Technology Innovator Award (nominations accepted April 17June 1, 2017), and the Meritorious Service Award (nominations accepted April 17June 1, 2017).

ACT-IAC’s Igniting Innovation Awards

Next nomination period: opens December 2017 (expected)
The ACT-IAC‘s Igniting Innovation Awards recognize the best ideas and solutions to solve important problems and showcase those ideas and successes. The awards help spread best practices to other professionals across government at the federal, state, and local level. Any individual or organization can submit a nomination. Innovations must have been conceived, developed, deployed, or upgraded in the last two years to be eligible. Finalists and winners are showcased at the Igniting Innovation event.

NAGC Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards

Next nomination period: opens December 2017 (expected)
The National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) hosts the Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition, an international awards program recognizing superior government communication products and those who produce them. The categories reflect the changing face of communication in and out of government. Federal, tribal, military, state, regional, county, municipal, or other government entities may enter.

Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards

Next nomination period: November–December 2017 (expected)
City governments across the country are collaborating with nonprofits and private sector partners to help bridge the digital divide and get more Americans online. In order to celebrate outstanding leadership and encourage innovative approaches to bridging the digital divide, National League of CitiesNext Century Cities, and Google Fiber host the Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards Program. The awards are given in two categories: Leader in Digital Inclusion Best Practices and Most Promising New Plan. Winners are chosen based on a program’s ability to provide training, access, and hardware to a diverse range of residents, at low cost, with proven results. Any city or county government in the U.S. is welcome to apply, however the application must be submitted by a city employee.

Arthur S. Flemming Awards

Next nomination period: November 2017–January 2018 (expected)
Hosted by the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration at The George Washington University, the Arthur S. Flemming Awards recognize outstanding men and women in the federal government, in honor of Arthur Flemming’s commitment to public service. Recognized by the President of the United States, agency heads, and the private sector, the winners are selected from all areas of the federal service. There are 12 awards in five categories: Leadership and/or Management; Legal Achievement; Social Science, Clinical Trials and Translational Research; Applied Science and Engineering; and Basic Science. Qualified nominees have between 3 and 15 years of service.

The Shorty Awards

Next nomination period: January–February 2018 (expected)
The Shorty Awards celebrate innovative and creative content on social media—including the best in government and politics. Dubbed the “Oscars of social media,” the Shorty Awards recognize winners in categories that change from year to year as social media trends come and go. There’s a Best in Government and Politics category specifically for city, state or country governments, political parties, politicians, and government advocacy groups. There are also other categories that change each year that government social media might qualify for, like the best Data Visualization, GIF, Real-Time Response, Cultural Institution, and Multicultural Community Engagement, and the best use of specific social channels.

Local Government Excellence Awards

Next nomination period: January–March 2018 (expected)
Hosted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the Local Government Excellence Awards celebrate the value of professional management and creative contributions to professional local government leadership, and its impact on the quality of life in communities.

StateScoop 50 Awards

Next nomination deadline: January–March 2018 (expected)
The StateScoop 50 Awards annually honor the best and the brightest who make state and local government more efficient and effective. These awards allow us to celebrate the outstanding achievements of our peers and acknowledge their tireless efforts to make a positive impact in the government IT community and in public service. The categories for the 2017 awards are: GoldenGov: State Executive of the Year, State Leadership of the Year, State IT Innovation of the Year, State Up & Comer, State Cybersecurity Leader, and Industry Leadership of the Year.

Golden Post Awards

Next nomination period: opens February 2018  (expected)
The Golden Post Awards honor social media worth remembering. Eligible agencies include any government or quasi-government entity or program from a city, town, township, village, borough, county, state, regional, or tribal government or territory of the U.S. Finalists are announced online and first and second place winners are revealed at the Government Social Media Conference & Expo (GSMCON).

U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Awards (GISLAs)

Next nomination deadline: February–March 2018 (expected)
The GISLA‘s recognize the ongoing commitment of individuals and teams whose initiatives, processes, and projects that have led to significant improvements in the security posture of a department, agency or the entire federal government. Categories have included individual awards for Up and Coming Information Security Professional, Workforce Improvement, Technology Improvement, and Process/Policy Improvement and team awards for Most Valuable Industry Partner and Community Awareness.

NACo Achievement Awards

Next nomination deadline: March 2018 (expected)
The National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards Program recognizes innovative county government programs. One outstanding program is selected as the “Best of Category,” and categories include Arts and Historic Preservation, Civic Education and Public Information, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Libraries, and Volunteers. The “Counties Matter Challenge” celebrates 100 examples of visionary county leadership that result in improving residents’ quality of life. Winners are recognized at the NACo Annual Conference and Exposition. County governments and state associations of counties are eligible.

Innovations in American Government Awards

Next nomination deadline not yet announced
The Innovations in American Government Awards recognizes and promotes excellence and creativity in the public sector. Hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the awards serve as a catalyst for bringing creative and effective solutions to some of government’s most urgent and seemingly intractable challenges. The winners receive grant funding and significant press coverage, and the awards program vigorously disseminates the valuable lessons offered by the initiatives. The awards are offered every other year.

Other Government Awards?

You’ve likely received or coveted other awards for government agencies and public service. What awards do you think should be included on this list? Add your suggestions in a comment at the end of this post.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in March 2016. It has been updated with the latest information on government leadership awards.

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, freelance writer, and speaker based in San Francisco. She helps organizations and do-gooders engage their communities and tell their stories. Her website is laurengirardin.com and you can connect with her on Twitter at @girardinl.

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Lillian Yvonne Johnson

Do these awards apply to principals, content delivered teachers and assistance principals who provide services within public school settings?

Lauren Girardin

Each award will have its own criteria, determined by the hosting organization, which might change from year to year. The awards in this post are available to government agencies and employees in general. You’ll need to visit the websites to learn more details about each award’s particular criteria.

Lauren Girardin

Each award will have its own criteria, determined by the hosting organization, which might change from year to year. Some are only for government, while others are broader (such as the Shorty Awards). You’ll need to visit the websites to learn more details about each award’s particular criteria.

Lauren Girardin

I’m not familiar with organizations that support and celebrate Brazil’s civil service employees, Barbara. I also don’t speak Portuguese, so I won’t be able to find any answers for you. Best of luck.

Caroline Staples

The Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award and the Malcolm Baldrige Award are both highly coveted in the realm of local government.

Lam-Anh Le

Hi, hope I’m not too late! I want to add the Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership to this list.


Since 1978, the Roger W. Jones Award has annually recognized two federal career executives of the Senior Executive Service who have demonstrated superior leadership in achieving their agency’s mission and developing future managers.