December 6, 2018

NYS Secretary of State Rosado Announces Local Government Innovation Award Winners

NYS Secretary of State Rosado Announces Local Government Innovation Award Winners
Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Capital Region BOCES, Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board, Montgomery County and its 21 local government partners all recognized for efficient, data-driven and innovative practices
Awards part of the 4th annual Local Government Innovation Conference

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado today announced award winners of the Department of State’s fourth annual Local Government Innovation Conference, including the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse; Capital Region BOCES; the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board; and Montgomery County and its 21 local government partners.

The annual conference, held in Albany, recognizes the great work that is being done by local government leaders, as well as the creativity and resilience of local governments from around the state.

“I applaud these local governments for taking the extra step to marry technology and data to best serve their constituents,” said Secretary of State Rosado. “The Local Government Innovation Conference highlights the best our counties, cities, towns and villages have to offer, and we are proud to host the annual event where we share ideas and work together to make a more responsive government for all.”

The Trail Blazer Award recognizes local government pioneers of innovative practices, leading the way and serving as models for other municipalities. The 2018 recipients are the cities of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse for their efforts to use data to make better decisions for their communities. The three cities partnered with each other, with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative, and a nationwide network of local government visionaries to build teams that are rethinking how they deliver public services.

  • Over the past two years, Buffalo developed an open data policy informed by public comment and established a data governance committee to manage citywide participation. This year, the city launched Open Data Buffalo, the City’s official open data portal, and held its first Civic Innovation Challenge to encourage the public to help with problem-solving, receiving submissions from across Western New York.
  • Rochester launched its Police Open Data Portal in 2017. The portal offers extensive visualization and analytics tools that residents can use to understand how the city is confronting crime across neighborhoods, over time, and in comparison, to other municipalities.  The portal helps the public understand the policies and procedures driving the department’s activities.
  • Syracuse launched its DataCuse Open Data Portal in July 2017, which drives Mayor Walsh’s recently launched public performance dashboard and enables citizens to understand the city’s progress towards measurable goals defined by its elected leadership. The city has held two hackathons so far, building off the data they publish online.

“My Administration is proud to be recognized by Secretary of State Rosado as a Trail Blazer Award recipient for our commitment to informing and engaging the residents of the City of Buffalo through our Open Data Buffalo portal,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. “Since launching Open Data Buffalo in February, we held our inaugural Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge, which saw Buffalo’s tech community develop apps using City data. Next week, a group of Buffalo neighborhood leaders and civic activists, will start our inaugural Data 101 course, which will empower our residents with the skills they need to gather and use data from our portal for community projects that will make our City stronger. Our goal is to make Buffalo a data-smart City of Opportunity.”

“The City of Rochester is proud of its Police Open Data Portal, believing it helps build trust with the community and improves public safety,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “To be recognized for this innovation with the Trail Blazer Award makes us even more proud of the progress we are making toward greater transparency because we believe the trust of our residents is vital to good government.”

“Increasing our use of data has helped us to identify opportunities to improve effectiveness and efficiency of city operations and service delivery,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “Data-driven decision making is a 21st century process that city governments can use as a tool for improvement, but also for transparency and accountability to their staff and their constituents. We thank the NYS Department of State for recognizing innovation and progress at the local level.”

The Regional Impact Award recognizes local government partners that continually develop projects having significant regional impact within their region of the State. The 2018 recipient is the Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) for their work to enhance shared services among the 24 component school districts (representing 80,000 students) in the Albany, Schoharie, Schenectady and Southern Saratoga county service area. To date, this organization has been the sponsor of five successful grant applications through the Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency Program. These grants have provided over $828,000 for projects that have produced significant savings and increased the efficiency of services, including:

  • The establishment of a Municipal Prescription Drug Purchasing Coalition for school districts and municipalities across New York State to purchase pharmacy benefits for less
  • Partnering with school districts to achieve cost savings through the coordination and sharing of busing for students to out-of-district locations, a service that can consume up to 5 percent of a district’s budget
  • Planning for shared bus maintenance among multiple school districts. 

These projects have saved at least $35 million to date.

“Our goal with all of our services is to help schools achieve a level of quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness that wouldn’t be possible alone,” said Capital Region BOCES’ Senior Executive Officer Joseph P. Dragone, Ph.D. “These services are a few shining examples of how collaborating and sharing improve quality, cost-efficiency and return on investment for the districts we serve. I am proud of our Management and Administrative Services team and honored that we’ve received this recognition.”

The Best Partner Award is presented to a local government or municipal support organization that provides significant support for training, technical assistance, local government re-design and innovation. The 2018 recipient is the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board (STC) and new Executive Director Chelsea Robertson. STC represents over 70 local governments and other community development organizations in Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler Counties in New York’s Southern Tier. This organization has been a strong partner with the Department of State and these local governments for almost 50 years, providing support for the implementation of the Appalachian Regional Commission programs, and significant direct assistance and training. The training and technical services offered to local officials by STC are expansive, and include hosting an Annual Regional Leadership Conference, which is going on its 23rd year. This event, which is staffed by our Division of Local Government as well, annually gathers hundreds of local officials for training and information exchange. In addition, STC has been extensively involved with local officials, helping them to understand the value of long-term planning. 

“The Board is proud of the work that the staff performs in furthering the partnerships with the towns and municipalities in the Southern Tier,” said Board Chair Joe Hauryski.  “They are very dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout the area.”

“STC is honored to receive the award for Best Partner.  STC’s board and staff has long been proud of the technical assistance and training we have provided to our municipalities,” said Executive Director Chelsea Robertson.  “This work has successfully built leaders and grown capacity within the local governments of our STC region.  It is wonderful to be recognized for work we truly believe in.”

The Secretary’s Choice Award recognizes the local government that has done the most to reimagine the structures of government and reinvent mechanisms for delivering services. The 2018 recipient is Montgomery County and its 21 local government partners. In 2017, the County was a finalist in the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition, and completed a progressive plan for municipal reorganization, identifying 12 projects for implementation. The competition highlighted their drive for change, as they have continued to pursue other available resources to implement identified projects. To date they have been successful in securing funding from the Municipal Restructuring Fund (MRF) to develop project plans for the following initiatives: 

  • The creation of a regional consolidated court facility with the Towns of Glen, Minden, Canajoharie, Saint Johnsville, Palatine, Charleston, and the Village of Canajoharie;
  • The development of an electronic content management system in partnership with the City and Town of Amsterdam and the Town of Florida;
  • The dissolution of the Village of Fort Plain into the Town of Minden; and,
  • The consolidation of the police forces for the Villages of Fort Plain and Canajoharie with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.

Through these and other efforts, Montgomery County and these partner local governments are recognized by the Department of State as leaders for their work to leverage opportunities for shared services and partnership.

“This is an amazing honor,” said Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort. “Our team has worked cooperatively and diligently on our shared services initiatives and we are so proud to be considered a leader and model for others working towards municipal innovation.”

The fourth annual LGIC featured a plenary on data-driven government and three workshop tracks that will include a host of compelling afternoon sessions: Utilizing Local Government Efficiency Funding, Put Data to Use Strategically, and Practitioner Initiatives & Project Development will equip and energize officials to take advantage of best practices and move their municipalities to the next level.

Video of sessions from the 2018 LGIC may be found online at the Department of State’s YouTube page, including:

  • Welcome remarks from Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Services Mark Pattison and Director of the Division of Local Government Services Ann Thane
  • Remarks from Don Horan, NYS Lean Program
  • Plenary Session: A Conversation with Leading Lights in Data-Driven Government with Sam Edelstein (Syracuse), Kirk McLean (Buffalo), Adria Finch (Syracuse)
  • Remarks from Mike Perrin, Chief of Staff, NY ITS

Previous years’ award winners include:

  • Schenectady County Unified Communication Center
  • Marbletown
  • Rosendale
  • Erie County Water Authority
  • Chesterfield
  • Ausable
  • Fishkill
  • Development Authority of the North Country
  • Chautauqua County
  • Tompkins County

The New York State’s Division of Local Government Services is NY’s premier source of training and technical assistance to local governments. The State of New York is committed to strengthening state and local partnerships and works fervently to foster collaborative solutions to local challenges through the Local Government Efficiency, Training, and Community Development and Sustainability program initiatives. Learn more about the Division’s work here.