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Center for Government honors innovative state agencies

by User Not Found | Nov 20, 2013

The AUM Center for Government and Public Affairs has announced the winners of the 2013 Innovative Alabama Governments Awards. The Alabama Departments of Mental Health and Rehabilitation Services and the City of Vestavia Hills were both recognized for increasing efficiency and responsiveness at the state and local level.

The Alabama Departments of Mental Health and Rehabilitation Services received the State/Regional award for Project SEARCH, which trains young people with disabilities for employment. Only 5 percent of Alabamians with developmental and intellectual disabilities are participating in integrated employment. For those who choose sheltered employment as a means of developing job skills for competitive employment, only about 3.5 percent ever exit the sheltered workshop to work in mainstream jobs. These statistics place Alabama at the bottom of the 50 states.

Teaming up with the Alabama Council for Developmental Disabilities, an internship program was created to give high school students with disabilities the opportunity to train for mainstream employment. More than 70 percent of students who participated in the program are working today.

The City of Vestavia Hills received the Local/County award for E-911 Procurement, a project in which the city contracted Shelby County 911 to cover its emergency communication services. Vestavia Hills operated a 911 Communications Center that faced several challenges: high operating costs, impending capital needs, and the quality of service. Although the city received approximately $500,000 each year in special funds from 911 charges on telephone service, the system’s operation equipment costs exceeded $1 million.

Shelby County 911, a proven provider of service in the region with a long track record in the industry, served multiple public safety agencies at the time, and was willing to contract service with other agencies in the region. Vestavia Hills transitioned to Shelby County 911, halving the monthly cost of 911 service for the city while raising its call handling capability to the point that property insurance rates are expected to be lowered for homeowners.

Since 2006, the Auburn Montgomery Center for Government has recognized innovative programs that increase efficiency and/or the responsiveness of government and nonprofit agencies.

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