Gladfelter Awards recognize government innovation

April 28, 2009 By Dennis Chaptman

Improvements in the state’s capital finance program, Madison’s switch from manual to automated refuse collection and an informational blitz on a city of Princeton referendum have won Lloyd D. Gladfelter Awards for government innovation.

The competition, administered by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Political Science, annually recognizes problem-solving and resourceful ideas generated by government employees.

“These are the kinds of creative ideas and money-saving efficiencies that people expect from government at all levels,” says Dennis Dresang, political science professor and chair of the awards committee. “The Gladfelter Awards honor that inventive spirit.”

A $3,000 award went to Frank Hoadley, the state’s capital finance director, for several financial innovations he implemented in recent years.

Hoadley developed and implemented borrowing programs that included variable rates of interest, including a 1999 innovation in the municipal bond market called “extendable municipal commercial paper.” These programs have saved the state more than $50 million on debt service payments.

He also implemented electronic, Web-based financial disclosures that saved the state printing and distribution costs and increased the state’s exposure to financial markets resulting in more favorable interest rates for state debt.

George Dreckmann won a $1,000 award for his innovative work in leading a team of individuals who planned and implemented the city of Madison’s transition from manual to automated trash and recycling pickup.

The change increased efficiency, reduced injuries and worker’s compensation claims by nearly $75,000, and allowed the city to absorb an increase in its customer base. It also allowed the city to expand the types of materials it accepts for recycling. Recycling collection costs declined by more than $1.3 million.

Another $1,000 award went to Joshua Schoemann, city administrator in Princeton, who discovered a $300,000 budget deficit resulting from a previous administration. He tracked down the cause and worked tirelessly to inform city residents about the city’s finances in advance of a spring 2008 referendum aimed at correcting the situation.

After Schoemann spent six months speaking to civic groups and the media and presenting the city’s case online and in other forums, 80 percent of Princeton voters turned out at the polls and supported the referendum by a 60-40 percent margin.

Established with a generous gift from Lloyd D. Gladfelter through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the UW Foundation, the Gladfelter Awards are given annually. Gladfelter spent his career as a government reporter for the Milwaukee Journal. He created this award to honor the public employee or employees (excluding elected officials) whose innovations led significantly to the improvement of federal, state, county, or municipal public services in the state of Wisconsin. Nominations are judged on their creativity, feasibility, and potential impact.

Along with Dresang, the Gladfelter Award Committee included Jim Haney, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce; Bill McCoshen, senior vice president of Capitol Consultants; and Joel Skornicka, former Madison mayor.