Our E-zine Salutes
the Winners of the
1999 Public Service Excellence Award
So here we
are, an online magazine dedicated to telling the stories of electronic
government. Believe it or not, in the stories below, you wonít find
a word about a web site or a computer or information technology
or telecommunications. We hope you won't mind a momentary diversion
from our theme.
Below are stories
about peopleñgovernment workers whose programs and activities won
the seven 1999 Public Service Excellence Awards given by the Public
Employees Roundtable. These winners are giving good service and
they are giving public service a good name. We are proud to salute
them during Public Service Recognition Week, May 3-9, 1999.
Talkiní Trash Take Top Honors (city program)
Forceís Reinmakers Reach Out to the Community (community service)
Problem Solvers Earn Respect (federal program)
Up Adoption in Los Angeles (intergovernmental)
Invests in Inmate Training and Saves Money (state program)
Offers a Way Out of the Dead End (intergovernmental)
Awareness for Seniors (county program)
the Public Employees Roundtable
Talkiní Trash Take Top Honors
Who would have
guessed you could get a first place national award for "Talkiní
Trash"? Well, thatís exactly what the singing garbage men from
Tacoma, Washington, have done, winning the 1999 Public Service Excellence
Award for cities from the Public Employees Roundtable.
In 1998, The
City of Tacoma, Washington, was facing changing just about everything
in the way its 51,000 residential customers dealt with solid waste.
All residents would have to select what size recycling and trash
container they wanted, 80 percent would switch their pick up day
and all would need to learn to recycle a new way. But how could
the city get the word out?
Community Relations Office rose to the challenge with an answer
that took lots of time, talent and teamwork. They made trash collection
and recycling fun while they were at it.
together an extensive marketing plan, they asked, "Who knows
garbage and recycling better than garbage men?" So, they surveyed
all the solid waste utility workers, from the garbage truck drivers
to the landfill operators to the route supervisor and secretaries,
to see what talents they had. Several said they could sing, and
auditions held in a bowling alley near the landfill resulted in
selection of five to sing about the changes to citizens. The five
garbage men became "The Collectors."
campaign was centered around these real garbage men and their number
one song, "Talkiní Trash." Not only did "Tacomaís
singing garbage men" sing about the service changes in radio
ads and at public appearances, their images appeared in the newspaper
ads, on transit bus signs, on garbage truck signs and in mailers.
The Collectors became a major media sensation.
Trash marketing campaign has won the hearts of the people of Tacoma
ó recycling has increased between 300 to 400 percent, depending
on the neighborhoodó but also three national first place marketing
awards, and raves from communication and marketing experts.
the cityís community relations specialist, said, "Although
weíre proud of the statistical results and measures of effectiveness,
perhaps the most important measures are the ways in which the City
of Tacomaís Talkiní Trash campaign made the city proud, boosted
the morale at the solid waste utility during a very difficult time
of transition, and changed the lives of the five men who became
Reinmakers Reach Out to the Community
First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In all You Do"-
the Air Force core values epitomize the men and women of the 838th
Engineering Installation Squadron (EIS) at Kelly Air Force Base
in San Antonio, Texas. Better known as the Reinmakers, this
remarkable group of individuals won the Public Employees Roundtable
1999 Public Service Excellence Award for community service. Chosen
from nominations from across the nation, this program stood out
as the best.
of the 838th EIS participate in the Southwest Independent
School District Mentorship program to help "at risk" children.
These are students with indications of low self-esteem, academic
deficiencies, poor social development, or an unstable home environment
-- often all of them. The mentors spend an average of one hour each
week increasing a studentís self-esteem and literacy, and being
a positive role model. Reinmakers also give an annual Christmas
party for under-privileged children.
EIS members donít stop there. They also: do a quarterly clean up
of a two-mile stretch as part of the Texas Adopt-A-Highway program;
paint the homes of physically and or financially challenged residents
of San Antonio; help build houses with the Habitat for Humanity;
and deliver meals-on-wheels to the homebound.
are great ambassadors for the US Air Force, for which community
service is an integral part of military service. For San Antonio,
the Reinmakers are always there to lend a helping hand.
Solvers Earn Respect
you for making motherís dream come true! She is so proud and blessed
to be a U.S. citizen," wrote Marganita Ishow to assistant director
Wendt of the Omaha, NE, district office of the U.S. Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) at the end of August last year.
Just months before, the INS relations with the public were so bad
that it launched a special nation-wide effort to improve services
and benefits to the public.
NE, District Office took the mandate seriously, got creative, earned
the publicís respect, and won a national award. The Public Employees
Roundtable awarded them the 1999 Public Service Excellence Award
for a federal program.
The Omaha District
Office did this with its problem solvers approach in the
section responsible for naturalization -- the process whereby a
foreign national becomes a citizen of the United States. The old
rule, "First in, first out, no exceptions," gave way to
empowering front line employees to make decisions. The results were
In the past,
naturalization often involved a two to four year process, in which
files were lost, fees were lost because of catch 22 time limits,
applicants were confused, and there was little communication from
start to finish. Many just fell by the wayside, and never became
citizens. INS called for improvement and set a national goal of
under twelve months.
The Omaha office
met the goal by re-thinking the way it does things. Office hours
were changed to keep applicants from standing in the cold. Ceremonies
were moved out of court rooms and into the community. Information
sessions were held in convenient locations, and community groups
were informed and came to the officeís assistance. Tasks were prioritized,
so that applications would not expire, and employees took personal
responsibility for hunting down missing files.
As a result,
processing time was reduced and the number of people becoming citizens
increased by 13.6%. Even response time to Congressional inquiries
improved dramatically. Businesses employing the immigrants were
motivated to get involved. They began giving paid time off for the
ceremony and a money reward for achieving citizenship.
The Omaha office
began getting requests from applicants in other offices to help
them, and worked with the other offices to expedite the applications.
complaints and critical media coverage, the Omaha office now gets
thank you notes and laudatory editorials.
are pleased with themselves and proud of their positions as government
employees," said Jerry Heinauer, District Director,"They
have become problem solvers in the true sense, and I am deeply grateful
Adoption in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles
court system, with over 50,000 children in foster care, and a backlog
of 300 children ready for adoption, has found a way to speed up
the adoption process and eliminate the backlog.
The Sara Berman
Adoption Saturdays Program was responsible, and has earned a Public
Service Excellence Award for Intergovernmental programs from the
Public Employees Roundtable. Adoption Saturdays bring together Superior
Court judges, court staff, attorneys, prospective parents, and Los
Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services employees,
all of whom volunteer their Saturday to"finalize" the
adoption of a child who had previously been in foster care.
This last step
in the process, the approval of the adoption by the judge, and is
preceded by "a paperwork day," during which the many documents
are obtained and reviewed. The three Adoption Saturdays that have
been held were highly successful. On April 25, 1998, 130 children
were adopted; on August 15, 1998, 275 children were adopted; and
on December 12,1998, 375 children were adopted.
The three Adoption
Saturdays are believed to be the largest adoption hearings ever
All of the
participants in the Dependency Court system agree that a permanent,
stable family is the greatest gift that can be given a child, and
that delays in achieving permanence can have a lasting and damaging
effect on children.
of legal finalization of an adoption can be fraught with red tape
and bureaucratic delays. Birth certificates must be verified. Considerable
paperwork must be prepared and filed by adoptive parents and attorneys.
Although the ties to the birth Los Angeles Adoption parents may
have been legally severed, children may remain n foster care for
months or years while awaiting the finalization of a permanent home.
Nash, Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Juvenile Courts, had the
idea of requesting private attorneys to volunteer to assist prospective
parents. A partnership evolved between the Dependency Judicial Officers,
the Department of Children and Family Services, Court staff, the
Alliance for Childrenís Rights, the Public Counsel Law Center, the
firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher and scores of volunteer attorneys
Saturdays Program is named in memory of Sara Berman, director of
the Department of Children and Family Services Adoptions Division,
who worked tirelessly to place Los Angeles County at the forefront
of adoption reform and helped create the vision for Adoptions Saturdays.
in Inmate Training and Saves Money
inmates in Oklahomaís Assessment and Reception Center are learning
a trade that will help them avoid criminal activity in the future.
They are also saving the center a lot of construction and repair
money. Those involved in this innovative undertaking won the recognition
of their peers with the 1999 Public Service Excellence Award for
a state program by the Public Employees Roundtable.
The goals of
the Centerís program are twofold. First is for inmates to pass state
examinations for licensing as apprentices, journeymen or contractors
in the electrical, heating and air Conditioning, plumbing and other
trades. An inmate is paired with a member of the Corrections Department
staff, who is licensed in one of these fields, and prepared by the
staff member to take a state licensing examination. They learn the
trade through construction and maintenance work at the center.
goal is to leverage construction and repair funds, to get new buildings
and better maintenance than would be possible without the licensed
staff and apprentice inmates. With their work, the center saved
$45,000 on a new wellness center, $16,000 on a new education building
26,800 on a new canteen building, $20, 000 on a new population management
building, and more.
investment in training has also paid off for the inmates. So far,
two have obtained contractor licenses, two have obtained journeyman
licenses, and six are active apprentices.
and upper administrationís commitment in allowing the inmates to
be tested, and the hiring of staff, who hold contractor licenses,
have been paramount to the success of the program. Currently, the
center is working on a plan that would increase inmate access to
state testing by allowing the offenders to be tested at the center.
value hard work, and believe that being able to work in the construction
industry will help the inmates avoid returning to prison.
a Way Out of the Dead End
teach you how to work as a team, that youíre not the only person,"
said Ronald White , 18 year old ChalleNGe cadet, "Youíve got
to watch out for other people, too, and respect people too."
is the staff of Virginiaís Commonwealth ChalleNGe program ( the
capital NG is for the National Guard, which runs the program). Twice
a year, 100 high school drop-outs enter this military style training
at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. They must be drug free, unemployed,
16 to 18 years old, healthy and not charged with or convicted of
is largely funded by the federal government, and has been selected
to receive the 1999 Public Service Excellence Award for an intergovernmental
program by the Public Employees Roundtable.
The 42 members
of the staff are former military personnel, and, since 1994, they
have run a physical fitness and education program for the resident
teenagers. The cadets wear uniforms, live in barracks, eat in a
military style dining hall, and receive a $5.00 per week living
allowance. The program, from 5:30 am reveille to 10:00 p.m. lights
out, is the same for males (who are 80% of the cadets)and females
is a retired Colonel in the Virginia National Guard, holds a doctorate
in education and over 30 years of public education experience. Cadets
also undergo a rigorous academic program to prepare them for passing
the GED test. The morning is spent in academic studies, while afternoons
are devoted to physical or health classes, and in leadership training
or teamwork activities.
percent of the graduates have earned the GED diploma, contrasted
with the 58% rate for the stateís adult education programs. Upon
their graduation in five months, the cadets return to their homes,
are assigned mentors, who to follow their progress and guide them
for another 12 months, and the students receive a $400 stipend for
The state considers
the program a success, and has continued to contribute its share
of the cost. The $10,996 annual cost per enrolled cadet is far less
than the cost of alternative programs or incarceration.
it wasnít for your program, I would still be living a dead-end life,"
wrote graduate Adam Barter, summing up the reaction of students
and parents alike.
I go out walking and stop in a neighborhood store, I always engage
the proprietor in a conversation thatís beyond a mere business transaction,"
says Cuyahoga county senior Frances Mckinnon. Ms. Mckinnon, who
travels with her guide dog, Khaki, is legally blind. " I make
Sure that people
in my neighborhood know me, as well as where I travel.
So, in case
something happens, God forbid, someone will say, ëI know her!í"
Like many other
seniors, both sighted and non-sighted, Ms. Mckinnion has picked
up some valuable personal safety information from Cuyahoga Countyís
Safety and Crime Awareness (SCAT) program, winner of the
Excellence Awards in the County category from the Public Employees
Roundtable. The SCAT program was developed by the countyí Department
of Senior and Adult Services.
with the Cuyahoga County Witness Victim Services, KeyCorp Bank,
area police departments, and other senior services providers, the
Department conducts at least twenty SCAT workshops annually to help
seniors learn how to protect themselves against criminal activities
targeted toward the elderly.
The SCAT program
is an interactive, multi-media training program designed to enhance
the safety of older persons. It combines the expertise of law enforcement,
adult protective services, and medical, business and community leaders
to produce a 2-hour education program. The program demonstrates
simple, practical skill seniors develop and use to prevent their
becoming victims of assaults, financial crimes and abuse.
To date, more
than 2000 northeast Ohio seniors have participated in the Safety
and Crime Awareness Program, which since its inception in 1996,
has utilized talented senior volunteers as well as professionals
in its presentations. Subjects touched upon are personal safety,
banking and home repair scams, even Y2K scams in which the criminal
tries to convince the victim to withdraw money from the bank because
impending computer glitches will wipe out personal accounts.
the SCAT program, 2000 seniors know how to protect themselves. Prior
to SCAT training, 60% of seniors surveyed had an unrealistic attitude
about their personal safety. After SCAT, there was a 24% increase
in the level of safety awareness demonstrated by this group. Improvement
was shown in both perception of safety, and the understanding of
seniors with a meager $17,182 annual budget, because of the senior
volunteers and the wide range of experts who donate their time.
At under $9 per person, it is a remarkable value, and effectively
delivers the message that helps seniors in real life situations.
About the Public
Employees Roundtable is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of
organizations representing more than one million public employees.
The coalition works together to educate the public about the quality
of government employees and the value of the services they provide.
For more information
about PER, Public Service Recognition Week, or Public Service Excellence
Awards, contact Adam Bratton or Grace Williams at (202) 401-4352
or fax (202) 401-4433. Graceís e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.