Montgomery County wins 31 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards

by Patrick Herron
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“I want to congratulate all of our NACo Achievement Award recipients,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Our government is committed to being innovative, equitable, transparent and responsive to our residents, businesses and visitors. These awards are a national recognition for the incredible work that is being achieved by our departments and employees. I want to thank all of our employees for their hard work to earn their Achievement Awards.”

“The Montgomery County government strives to have the best services of any local government in the nation,” said Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Richard Madaleno. “I am very appreciative of the ingenuity and persistence to consistently improve our services. Congratulations to all the employees and departments for this notable recognition.”

Montgomery County’s winning programs include:

Civic Education and Public Information Category:

  • Adapting Design to Justice Values: The Montgomery County Government engaged creative residents to deconstruct problems and propose solutions as a part of our Design by People initiative.
  • Creating Comfortable, Affordable, and Happy Homes for Montgomery County Residents: Montgomery Energy Connection and the Montgomery Housing Partnership created two different programs to help residents: the Happy, Healthy Homes initiative hand-delivered 1,700 welcome bags of resources to help residents keep money in their pockets and live happier and healthier lives and the Love Where You Live initiative provided customized “Love Where You Live Home Comfort Kits” to residents along with virtual energy education.
  • Montgomery County, MD’s Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program: This unique and inventive program, eliminates barriers to strengthen the efforts of generators, collectors, and processors to expand and increase food scraps recycling long-term.
  • Notices of Violation and Citations/Court Proceedings – Information Guide: The Department of Permitting Service has created a brochure that provides step-by-step instructions on how to obtain a permit and more importantly provides points of contact if there are additional questions or if clarity is needed. The brochure also explains the civil citation process and instructions for paying fines online when appropriate.

Community and Economic Development Category:

  • Virtual Alcoholic Beverages License Renewal: Montgomery County Alcohol Beverage Services’ Division of Licensure, Regulation, and Education converted the annual license renewal from a primarily in-person process to an entirely virtual process in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by dramatically upgrading its custom-built online renewals portal. Although the portal was created to provide contact-less license renewal in response to COVID-19, it ended up producing a faster and more efficient process that has been adopted permanently.

County Administration and Management Category:

  • Vendor Process Improvements in Purchasing: The Office of Procurement received multiple inquiries from the business community looking to gain information on best practices to improve their chances of doing business with Montgomery County. This information is beneficial in that it helps businesses put forth the best possible response to County contracting opportunities. These initiatives include the introduction of the Solicitation Process Maps, Vendor Innovation Portal, eBidding, Solicitation PROJections, Revised Scope of Services, and How-To Videos. These tools develop a culture of continuous improvement to benefit the County and the community we serve.

County Resiliency Category:

  • Brookville Depot – EV Bus Electrification County: The Montgomery County Department of General Services, Office of Energy and Sustainability is developing a microgrid at the Brookville Maintenance Depot in Silver Spring. Taking an innovative and industry leading approach to supporting this effort by having a microgrid, consisting of solar photovoltaic panels, grid connected battery storage and onsite generation to support the charging of electric buses, with the capability of operating independently from grid supplied electricity during climate events and power outages, ensures the bus transit fleet will continue to service the community.
  • Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Plogging Challenge:  The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Plogging Challenge encourages volunteers to pick up trash anytime and report their litter pick-up activity. MCDEP provides free litter removal equipment to volunteers, and in exchange, volunteers report their litter pick-up activities to MCDEP on their own time. Volunteers learn about litter issues, join a larger group working to better our community, and contribute to litter reduction in our waters. Close to 600 volunteers joined the Plogging Challenge and pledged to make a difference. The program resulted in 12,000 pounds of litter removal in Montgomery County in 2021.
  • Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability:The Montgomery County, Department of General Services has developed and implemented a Monitoring Based Commissioning Program across three large energy-consuming County buildings, the Executive Office Building, Judicial Center, and Judicial Center, collectively referred to as the “Rockville Campus.” This initial three-building pilot has established best practices that are being used to expand the program across the County’s largest energy-consuming buildings.
  • Scotland Recreation Center Resilience Hub: The Montgomery County Department of General Services Office of Energy and Sustainability has developed the existing Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center into a Resiliency Hub. The Scotland Recreation Center will now be a location where residents can take refuge from the heat of summer or the cold of winter when their residences lose power. Moreover, residents will be able to refrigerate critical medicines, charge electronic devices, and safely gather with neighbors. The Scotland Resiliency Hub is the first of several that Montgomery County is aiming to develop in Low-to-Moderate Income communities.
  • Sustainability, Energy, and Mechanical Code Compliance Tools:  The 2018 International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and Energy Conservation Code (IECC) are pivotal elements to aid in the Montgomery County Climate Action Plan Green House Gas reductions goals. These are complex, technical codes that require years of experience to master. The Sustainability, Energy, and Mechanical team has worked tirelessly to create interactive, intuitive guides intended to aid design professionals in complying with both the IgCC and IECC.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety Category:

  • Cannabis Intoxication Impaired Driving Labs: Montgomery County Department of Police’s Cannabis Intoxication Impaired Driving Labs are unique employee training programs that promote community engagement, enhance citizen participation in understanding police activity, and work to enhance traffic safety while aiming to deter impaired driving. Cannabis Intoxication Impaired Driving Labs are the first law enforcement-hosted training programs that address cannabis-impaired driving behavior. They help officers recognize symptoms of cannabis abuse with the help of medically certified cannabis patients. These patients volunteer their time to consume cannabis products so that officers can visually observe how individuals act when not sober.

Financial Management Category:

  • Enhancements to Central Vendor Registration System (CVRS) for Individual Payees: Using a human-centered approach, the Department of Finance and the Property Acquisition Section of the Department of Transportation worked collaboratively to modify the Central Vendor Registration System so that it could be simpler to use and easier to access for individuals entitled to compensation arising out of property acquisitions needed for transportation projects.
  • Streamlined Electronic Invoice Management: The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled the growing need for a digital solution for the storage and processing of invoices for payment from the legacy business process of moving and filing paper invoices. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Division of Parking

Health Category:

  • Active Aging Week: Redefining Active @ Montgomery County, MD: Since 2018, Montgomery County, has been participating in Active Aging Week (AAW), an international weeklong event celebrating the positivity of aging and active living. Committed to empowering its older residents and to reinforcing collaboration among local organizations, Montgomery County customized AAW to the community’s needs. A series of events helps support and promote the benefits of being active.
  • Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar Initiative: The Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar (PNSB) Initiative of the County’s Department of Health and Human Services is a private-public partnership sponsored by the Offices of the County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Gabriel Albornoz, and County Councilmembers Nancy Navarro, along with seven community organizations. PNSB’s model implements an integrated strategic response that is culturally and linguistically appropriate, and science-based to prevent and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the Latino community in Montgomery County. PNSB provides health and human services to the Latino residents affected directly or indirectly by COVID-19.

Human Services Category:

  • Improving Language for Inclusive Hiring: Montgomery County Government (MCG) faces the challenge of 50% of employees being responsible for retirement in the next five years. Montgomery County Government’s Effective and Inclusive Job Ad guide encourages all hiring departments to attract qualified candidates inequitable. The guide enables 37 departments to streamline writing ads, creating a cohesive sourcing language. The job ad guide is constructed with behavioral science methods to encourage users to evaluate the outreach materials they have been developing to fill a given position in their department.

Information Technology Category:

  • BASIS Workforce Budgeting System: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) used its own IT developers to create a new home-grown Position Budgeting System (BASIS -Workforce Module) to replace the onerous Hyperion Workforce budgeting system that has been in existence since 2011. The new system is more user-friendly, integrates better with other Oracle and OMB-developed systems, can pivot quickly to address system and report changes on the fly, and provides a more accurate approach to salary and benefit calculations.
  • Defining the Scope:  The Office of Procurement uses the formal solicitation purchasing method to solicit offers for goods and services from competing businesses via invitation for bids (IFB) or request for proposals (RFP). IFBs and RFPs are documents that make clear the County’s needs and requirements in addition to providing standard language on legal terms and conditions. Because the County procures a variety of complex goods, services, and construction, the details regarding the scope of work, compliance, and other requirements often result in an increase in size of the solicitation package. A solution was needed to address the concerns from the business community on providing a streamlined solicitation package and a more efficient method to review technical requirements.
  • Improving the Customer Service Center: MC311 Address Error Report Form & Tracking: Montgomery County’s Technology & Enterprise Business Solutions – Geographic Information Systems Team has implemented a system to collect information on problematic addresses, update progress, and display the collected information for each report. The process starts with a simple online form and produces a database of mappable data that users can then track on an online application, complete with map and filterable data.
  • PRO Launch:  The Office of Procurement manages over 2,600 contracts and is mandated to maintain a centralized system to track and process contracting actions for internal and external customers. A protocol was needed to eliminate the operational inefficiency of manually processing actions pertaining to contract expiration and options for extensions. PRO Launch provides the Office of Procurement with a web-based tool to expedite the efficient, effective, and professional delivery of specific Procurement functions and services. The PRO Launch application was developed, maintained in-house at no cost, and was fully implemented in six months.
  • Rental Marketplace (Home Page ‐ Marketplace (montgomerycountymd.gov)): A core mission of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) is to preserve and increase the supply of affordable housing. To support the mission, the department undertook to leverage the large amount of housing data at its disposal captured through its Annual Rental Housing Survey, a comprehensive collection of information about tenant services, rents, unit sizes, structure types, and affordability programs. The result of DHCA’s effort is Rental Marketplace, tailored for Montgomery County with data captured directly from multifamily properties. It is a user‐friendly and responsive website that enables the public to query the County’s pool of affordable rental housing for working families, seniors, or other special requirements.
  • Service Request Management Map:  The DOT Service Request Management Map, developed by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation in close collaboration with the Department of Technology and Enterprise Business Solutions, provides a new online tool that makes it easy for MCDOT staff to manage and fulfill service requests reported to MCDOT through the County’s CRM system, MC311 powered by Siebel system, more effectively and efficiently. The online map application extends the capabilities offered by MC311 to better investigate and plan the fulfillment of service requests throughout the County. The online tool also offers both address search as well as geospatial search to immediately focus on a point of interest or surrounding streets.
  • Vendor Innovation Portal: The Office of Procurement is to facilitate the use of public funds in partnership with County departments to effectively procure goods and services in an inclusive, transparent, and equitable manner, that best serves County residents, businesses, and the public interest. Transparency is a critical core value as it encourages the public’s good will and strengthened trust in the County’s procurement process. In keeping with that value, the Vendor Innovation Portal was created as a tool for businesses to connect with the County and introduce their ideas to improve and enhance operations.

Parks and Recreation Category:

  • Play Montgomery Rock N Roll: PlayMONTGOMERY Rock n Roll/Fit and Fun introduces young people, ages 8 -15, to multiple kinds of sports including rock climbing, biking, and skateboarding, while Fit N Fun provided swim lessons, skateboarding lessons, and fitness activities. In addition to promoting mental and physical health, youth sports help kids develop confidence, stay engaged in productive activities, and become more involved with their school and community. Offering engaging programming, in underserved neighborhoods, gives young people opportunities to participate in programs in their own communities and aids in reducing inequities for youth to access sports.
  • Strengthening Pathways for Advancement in Recreation & Camp Careers (SPARCC): Strengthening Pathways for Advancement in Recreation & Camp Careers (SPARCC) is a counselor, in-training styled program developed to increase access to and inclusion in camp staff pathways for young people in Montgomery County. The SPARCC program provides a unique approach to supporting young people who may never have experienced camp realize the opportunities for careers within the field while developing leadership skills. Camp experiences, for both the camper and camp staff, provide rich opportunities for learning and development.

Personnel Management, Employment and Training Category:

  • LEAP4MCG: A New Approach to Hiring People with Disabilities: Montgomery County Government’s Occupational Medical Services Division swiftly mobilized and developed new, critical services to address the challenges of COVID-19, while maintaining business continuity and fast, efficient service delivery. The new services proved vital to ensuring the health and safety of employees, as well as residents visiting County facilities, throughout the pandemic.

Risk and Emergency Management Category:

  • Montgomery County Safety and Health Program: The Montgomery County Safety Team partnered with the County’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, the Department of Technology and Enterprise Business Solutions, and the Department of Finance IT Division. Goals were established and a path was charted for the development of tools to build a new, positive Safety Culture for MCG. A goal is for employees to make workplace safety an integral part of their workday. Technology streamlined communication and brought efficiency to the program. The hope is that it leads to fewer accidents and a safer workplace.

Transportation Category:

  • Free COVID-19 Vaccination/Testing/Mask Pick-up Taxi Program: Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) partnered with Taxicab companies to provide free roundtrip transportation for older adults 65+ and individuals with disabilities to COVID-19 vaccination sites, testing locations and to pick up N95 masks. MCDOT pays the taxicab companies for their services from a Metropolitan Washington Council of Government Enhanced Mobility for Older Adults and Individuals with Disabilities Grants (50 percent) and with County funds (50 percent.) Our goal is to provide a no-cost transportation option to the at-risk communities we serve by proactively offering transportation assistance to ensure that the transportation disadvantaged residents, who are also at a higher risk of complications if they test positive for COVID, have this option available.
  • Stormwater Drain Culvert Resiliency Program for Addressing Climate Change:  Montgomery County successfully implemented a storm drain culvert resiliency program that created an innovative rating system. This rating system enabled the County to objectively categorize hundreds of stormwater culverts based on drainage area flood potential, culvert structural condition, average daily traffic count, and mobility impact to the community. The program provided a basis for the County to more efficiently allocate capital improvement project funding to increase the resiliency of the storm drain culvert system.

Founded in 1935, NACo provides services to the nation’s 3,069 counties. Now in its 52nd Year, the Achievement Awards recognizes programs that offer new services to County residents, fill gaps in the availability of services or new revenue sources, improves the administration of an existing program, and/or promotes better training, more effective policy making, or intergovernmental cooperation. To view the full database of NACo Achievement Award Winners, please click here.

 

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