The Council of State Governments
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State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Award



2017 Documents



How to Apply

The CSG Southern Office recognizes that state employees work hard, not only to provide outstanding services to their citizens, but also by striving to develop and adapt new and improved programs to make their states a better place to live.  Such efforts should be recognized and rewarded, and innovative ideas should be shared among colleagues.

The STAR award represents an opportunity to highlight successful programs implemented within your state, especially those that can be replicated across state lines to improve the region as a whole.

Program Liaison

Nick Bowman

Nick Bowman, Research & Publications Associate

Showcase Your State's Success

The Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG) is accepting applications for its 2017 State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) award for innovative state government programs and services. To qualify, programs must be from the Southern Office’s 15-state region. The deadline for submitting your program for consideration is Friday, May 26, 2017.

For nearly 40 years, CSG has identified and promoted exceptional state government programs. Through the STAR award, the Southern Office recognizes impactful, creative, effective and transferable state government solutions. Innovative program submissions are accepted from a wide array of state agencies, departments and institutions operating within the executive, legislative and judicial governmental branches.

Following an initial review process, five finalists will be invited to present their program to the STAR judges panel — comprising state legislators, legislative staff and policy experts — convening on August 1, 2017, at the 71st Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi. There, two exceptional programs will be selected as models of efficiency and effectiveness in state governments in the Southern region.

State programs are evaluated and graded by the following criteria:

Impact – How far-reaching are the benefits and solutions of the program?
Creativity – Does the program represent a new and creative approach to solving common problems or issues?
Effectiveness – To what extent is the program successful at addressing an issue, and how efficiently does it operate?
Transferability – From a logistical and fiscal standpoint, could the program or practice easily be transferred to other states?

Access the Online Application

2016 Winners

VADOC logo

Virginia Department of Corrections, Division of Education | American Council on Education Accreditation Project

In order to reduce recidivism, the Virginia Department of Corrections, Division of Education (VDOC, DOE) offers career and technical education (CTE) courses to inmates.  These courses are designed to provide inmates with the skills required to succeed in today’s workforce.  ln 2014, the VDOC, DOE received college accreditation for five CTE courses through the American Council on Education (ACE).  For more than 30 years, colleges and universities have trusted ACE to provide reliable course equivalency information to facilitate credit award decisions.  Virginia is the only state in the nation to offer college accredited courses to its inmates. Research shows that ex-offenders who have acquired college credit while incarcerated have lower recidivism rates. 

The ACE-accredited courses offered are business software applications, computer aided drafting, computer graphics and design, introduction to computers and print production.  Upon release, ex-offenders may submit an accredited transcript to higher education institutions for potential transfer credit in a degree program.  Based upon the initial success of the program, the VDOC, DOE plans to seek ACE accreditation for additional courses, including welding, HVAC, plumbing and masonry.

Application | Presentation

VDOT logo

DRPT logo

Virginia Department of Transportation and Department of Rail and Public Transportation | Smart Scale Program

In 2014, Virginia became the first state to pass legislation establishing a scored ranking system to evaluate transportation projects based on project outcomes and across modes with their Smart Scale program legislation, which established a statewide prioritization process for transportation projects that improve the efficiency of the commonwealth’s transportation network.

The Smart Scale legislation addressed concerns that the selection of transportation projects was based on politics, not objective data. Projects now are evaluated based on their benefits-relative costs, specifically the ease of congestion, improved accessibility to jobs, improved safety and economic development, transportation-efficient land use and impact on the environment.

In June 2016, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $1.7 billion in funding to build 163 transportation projects that were selected through the Smart Scale process.  These projects are fully funded through all phases of project development and construction.  The Virginia Department of Transportation has been working with other states that wish to replicate their success.

Application | Presentation

Previous Years' Winners

Example Program Categories

Agriculture & Natural Resources

Agricultural Education
Conservation & Land Use
Land Preservation
Parks & Recreation
Natural Resources

Economic Development, Fiscal Affairs & Transportation

Business & Commerce
International Trade
Transportation Infrastructure
Public-Private Partnerships


Training & Development
Workforce Development



Health & Human Services

Children & Families
Health Services
Human Services

Government Operations & Technology

Information Systems
Public Information

Public Safety & Corrections

Criminal Justice
Substance Abuse
Emergency Management
Public Safety