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When it comes to health-care, environmental management, and justice, can the federal government learn from money-saving, efficiency-boosting programs at the city, county, and state levels? Yes, says the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation. The institute, part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, has named 16 would-be role models for Uncle Sam.

The 16 finalists for the Innovations in American Government Awards, given yearly since 1986, offer a glimpse at how new technologies, agency collaboration, and a rethinking of traditional organizations can save money and help citizens on a national level.

A committee will choose as the winners the initiatives with the most original ideas that could realistically speed reform and potentially be adapted at the federal level. The awards will be presented at a ceremony next fall at Harvard. Here, we look at all of the finalists, chosen from more than 600 entries, as a compelling spectrum of case studies in government innovation, such as a county-wide network of clinics for the uninsured (pictured here), some staffed by volunteers.