Per Montgomery County (5.31.23): County Executive Marc Elrich today announced that Montgomery County Government won 13 awards for its operations and innovation in the 2023 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards. NACo is a nonprofit organization that provides services to the nation’s 3,069 counties and represents county governments across the United States. The NACo Achievement Awards recognize a county’s outstanding commitment to public service in various categories such as civic education and public information; community and economic development; children and youth; and arts and entertainment.
Since the beginning of the Elrich Administration in 2019, Montgomery County has won 176 NACo Achievement Awards, including four Best in Category awards. In the 2023 awards, Montgomery County won the Best in Category Award in the Parks and Recreation category. The County was recognized for its outdoor fitness equipment program at the Holiday Park Senior Center in Silver Spring. The center features the first outdoor fitness space in the region expressly geared toward the needs of adults 55 and older.
“I’m proud of our accomplishments here in Montgomery County and congratulate all of our fellow NACo Achievement Award recipients,” said Montgomery County Executive Elrich. “These awards serve as national recognition for the commitment our government has toward providing innovative services to the hard-working people of Montgomery County. Our achievements would not be possible without all the hard work put forth by our County employees. I want to thank our County employees for their commitment to our residents, businesses and visitors, which led to 13 Achievement Awards.”
County Chief Administrative Officer Richard Madaleno said the variety of awards presented to Montgomery show the efforts to help residents through the County.
“These Achievement Awards once again prove that Montgomery County is a great place to live, work and do business,” said Chief Administrative Officer Madaleno. “All of us in Montgomery County Government work toward providing the highest level of service not only in Maryland, but in the nation. We remain dedicated to innovation, equity and transparency in providing and improving our County services for our constituents. Congratulations to all the employees and departments for earning this notable recognition that we share with the people of Montgomery County.”
NACo was founded in 1935. Its Achievement Awards recognize 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, click here.
NACo Achievement Awards presented to Montgomery County for 2023:
Parks and Recreation Category
- Holiday Park Senior Center Outdoor Fitness Equipment (Best in Category): Montgomery County Recreation’s Holiday Park Senior Center Outdoor Fitness Area features the first outdoor fitness space in the region expressly geared toward the needs of adults 55 and older. The outside workout area made it possible to exercise and social distance at a time when many seniors were apprehensive to return to an indoor setting during the pandemic.
Children and Youth
- Making a Difference: 2022 Summer Reading Challenge! at Montgomery County Public Libraries: The Summer Reading Challenge! is Montgomery County Public Libraries’ (MCPL) annual signature systemwide event for children, teens and families. Inspired by the theme “Oceans of Possibilities,” children and teens worked toward the goal of making a tangible difference in local conservation efforts by reading books, doing activities and attending library programs. As readers completed missions, the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, made contributions to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. In turn, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation planted 500 trees along the watershed, planted 250,000 oysters in the Bay and restored healthy wildlife habitats throughout the Watershed.
- Truck Day featuring the “Paint the Plow” Contest: The “Paint the Plow” contest allowed students from 14 middle schools across the County to put their creative talents to use by naming and painting a snowplow. The painted plows were displayed at Truck Day, where attendees got to vote for their favorite design, with prizes going toward the winning school’s art program. The program raised climate change awareness and educated students on the environment friendly efforts of the County Department of Transportation’s Division of Highway Services.
Civic Education and Public Information
- Department of Permitting Services Special Events Permit: The DPS Special Events Permit serves as a planning tool for event planners to ensure their event is in compliance with local laws, ordinances and executive regulations. The Special Events Permit requires event planners to consider and prepare for the safe installation of equipment, as well as secure licenses. Event planners are educated on all required fees and inspections. The process allows event planners to experience shorter planning timelines in conjunction with the five DPS divisions: Police, Fire and Rescue, Alcohol Beverage Services, Environmental Protection, Health and Human Services, along with the Office of the County Executive.
Community and Economic Development
- Customer Engagement Analysis: The hospitality industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 health crisis and continues to struggle with supply chain disruptions, a labor shortage, inflation and changing customer habits. Montgomery County’s Alcohol Beverage Services undertook a customer engagement analysis and outreach program based on one-on-one conversations with 125 license holders and facility managers in their own establishments. ABS met with stakeholders, both physically and conceptually, to assess evolving trends and needs. ABS interviewers used a conversational approach to extract meaningful data that ordinarily would not be possible through online surveys or public focus groups. The in-person visits helped identify and update alcohol policy, trainings and resources for licensees and their staff. They also confirmed many of ABS’s health, safety and compliance programs are effective.
- Residential Deck Detail: The County Department of Permitting Services issues more than 500 residential deck permits every year. Most permit applicants are homeowners with little to no construction and plan drafting experience. The County Residential Deck Detail guidelines allow homeowners to submit only a site-location plan to obtain permits for rectangular one-level decks. Once the permit is issued, the homeowners will only need to follow the detailed deck guidelines for construction.
County Administration and Management
- County Telework Program: With an increasingly competitive labor market for employers, Montgomery County Government (MCG) overhauled its telework program to empower departments and employees to work in the way that best advanced MCG goals. The new program offers a range of telework options from situational telework to full-time telework, provides opportunities to maximize telework schedules based on the on-site operational needs of a department and in-person services with residents. The program enabled MCG to improve employee experience and retention; maintain, and in some cases increase, service delivery to residents; build a more resilient organization; and advance its environmental goals.
- Digitization of County Contracting: Government procurement agencies practicing traditional, paper-based procurement processes face many challenges, including the potential for duplication, human error, high costs and reduced productivity. Eliminating the County’s Office of Procurement’s reliance on paper-based processes in favor of digitization resulted in greater accessibility and increased efficiency. The efforts were fully developed and maintained with existing staff at no cost and implemented within one year.
Criminal Justice and Public Safety
- Holiday Coaster Campaign: During the 2022 holiday season Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) partnered with local businesses to help deter patrons from drunk driving. ABS distributed beverage coasters featuring a QR code directing patrons to an online list of alternative rides to get home safely when drinking. Imprinted with the phrase “Had one too many? Scan for a Safe Ride Home,” the coasters were distributed free of charge to bars and restaurants.
- Violent Crimes Information Center: Montgomery County established a Violent Crime Information Center (VCIC) to provide real-time crime analysis. It provides law enforcement with real-time information about crime scenes, crime victims and suspects. The VCIC uses data, technologies and analysis to provide information to help direct law enforcement responses.
- Latino Health Initiative Asthma Management Program: The Latino Health Initiative’s (LHI) Asthma Management program seeks to reduce asthma-related emergency room visits and hospitalization rates of Latino children. The program increases awareness, provides education and empowers Latino families to properly self-manage their child’s asthma by providing free asthma management interventions for parents and caregivers in Spanish. An end-of-program evaluation assessed the effectiveness of the interventions, reporting an increase in asthma knowledge from 65 percent to 89 percent; self-efficacy from 44 to 94 percent; having an action plan from 29 to 88 percent; reduction in overall asthma morbidity measured by a decrease in emergency department visits from 31 to 19 percent; hospitalizations from 17 to 3 percent, school days missed from 76 to 24 percent; and restriction of physical activity from 72 to 46 percent.
Personnel Management, Employment and Training
- MCG Delivers Mentorship Experience: The Mentoring Experience is a group mentoring program created by and for County employees. The program aims to increase knowledge sharing and interdepartmental networking, foster career and leadership skills, enhance employee engagement and well-being, and grow a mentoring culture. Resources for participants include discussion guides for topics such as career development and improving hard and soft skills. Surveys show that 90 percent of the mentees believe the mentoring relationship positively impacted their career development, and 90 percent of the mentors said the relationship improved their leadership and coaching skills.
Risk and Emergency Management
- A Human Services Response to Emergencies: Culturally Competent and Trauma Informed Care: Montgomery is Maryland’s only county integrating a wraparound model within its disaster response to fire, floods and structural disasters. Under the direction of the County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Office of Emergency Preparedness, “Response and Mass Care, the Community Action Agency” (CAA) has joined with DHHS service areas, other departments and partners to assure that people displaced by disasters have equitable access to services. This collaboration ensures that residents affected by disasters have a single access point to available services such as rehousing assistance, privately raised donations, insurance assistance, shelter and more. It prevents victims who have suffered significant losses from recurring trauma every time they seek services. The team’s multilingual members speak Spanish and Amharic.