Want a Reward? Win an Award


Does your department do amazing work, yet you feel like there’s rarely any acknowledgement of your accomplishments? What about your team? Your boss? Or you?

Winning an external award is an excellent way to draw attention to great work being done in government. Often underutilized, awards programs are run by any number of organizations, from the local to the international. The small amount of extra work it takes to submit a nomination can be well worth the payoff if your submission is the one that wins.

While not all awards given to government agencies or programs come with cash prizes, many are worth it for other reasons:

  • As justification for further allocations when budget time comes around
  • To add to team members’ resumes or curriculum vitae
  • For internal performance reviews or cases for promotion
  • For the shared joy and camaraderie gained by having your team recognized
  • Heightened visibility and credibility of having your work recognized as exceptional by an outside entity

Often, the only thing that keeps people from applying for awards is not knowing what possibilities are out there. So here are three places to look.

Broad-based industry associations. A number of organizations are intended to recognize technology achievements, which almost any department or agency can be eligible for. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), for example, has an annual awards program with a substantial history. Honors can be awarded to a program or individual, depending on the specific award applied for. You don’t have to work for a CIO’s office to be eligible, either—you just have to work with them to submit your nomination. For 2016, just one of the many awards available was designed to recognize excellence in far-ranging categories such as:

  • Cross-Boundary Collaboration & Partnerships
  • Cybersecurity
  • Digital Government: Government to Business
  • Digital Government: Government to Citizen
  • Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity
  • Improving State Operations

Similarly, the CompTIA organization recognizes “people who have worked tirelessly to promote technology and the digital economy” with its CompTIA Tech Champion Awards.

Industry-specific associations. For child support, the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) announces the recipients of several awards at its annual Leadership Symposium, ranging from honorary lifetime memberships for those with decades of experience to conference scholarships for emerging leaders. In human services, The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) gives out annual honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Outstanding State Member Award, and Academic Excellence Award. Check with the leading association in your industry for similar opportunities.

Third-party organizations that cover government. Publications such as StateScoop and FedScoop present annual awards for their respective areas of interest, and results are put to an open, national online vote—in fact, FedScoop’s is going on right now, through September 16. Know an “Inspiring Up and Comer”? “Disruptor of the Year?” Get out the vote for this year’s nominees or mark your calendars for next year’s nominations.

And new awards programs are always starting up, like this year’s Route Fifty Navigator Awards. In this case, they’re “recognizing 50 finalists for their demonstrated abilities to implement a great idea that improves public sector services and the communities they serve.” Often, newer programs receive fewer nominations than longstanding ones, which can offer an increased chance of recognition.

But sometimes the best advice for awards programs is a slogan used by state lotteries: “You can’t win if you don’t play.” Awards only go to those who submit nominations, so why not try it?

(Or, as my personal favorite, the New York State Lottery, puts it: “Hey. You never know.”)

Jael Maack is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply