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Alameda County government wins top honors at national conference

U.S. counties' organization cites programs, technology in making achievement awards

Alameda County received four Achievement Awards and some high-profile recognition at the recent National Association of Counties (NACO) conference.

The awards went to:

• The Alameda County Library for its "Start with a Story'' program, which uses trained volunteers and library staff to read stories to children who are waiting to visit incarcerated family members at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and the Glenn Dyer Jail in Oakland. Acknowledging the high rate of illiteracy in U.S. jails, the program seeks to break an intergenerational cycle of illiteracy to reaching out to young people through literacy related games and activities, and by giving a free book to each child to take home and enjoy on their own.

• Alameda County and its county administrator's office for the annual Youth Leadership Academy, which engages 35 high school students in five interactive sessions about county programs and services. The academy provides an ideal forum for youth to express concerns about their communities and to develop leadership skills. The program is also based on a belief that county government needs to engage in broader outreach to foster better understanding of its role in the community and to strengthen support for its programs and services.

• The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office, which won two Achievement Awards for its innovative use of technology to make elections more efficient and secure. The first award recognized the ROV for its unprecedented use of Radio Frequency Identification technology to improve the "chain of custody'' of vital voting equipment during an election. The office also won a second award for its new Roster Index Book Imaging and Recognition Procedure, which has significantly reduced the number of staff hours required in the post-election audit of signatures provided by voters at each polling place.

Alameda County also won special recognition from NACO for embracing new technologies to increase citizen involvement and enhance government transparency. The annual Digital Counties Survey conducted by NACO and the Center for Digital Government found that Alameda County ranked fifth among counties nationally for digital offerings to its citizens.

The county also was cited for offerings including its highly interactive and user-friendly website, ACGOV.ORG, as well as the way it has embraced social media such as Facebook and Twitter to engage its residents.

Susan S. Muranishi, county administrator, attended the conference with supervisors Scott Haggerty, who chairs NACO's Transportation Committee, and Keith Carson, a member of the NACO board of directors.

"We are extremely proud of the recognition Alameda County received at the NACO conference," Muranishi said. "To me it shows that despite these very challenging economic times, Alameda County continues to find ways to better serve our residents."

Added Carson: "The awards we received at the NACO conference reinforce the pride I feel about the Alameda County organization, and the employees who continually strive to improve service to the community."

alameda county,scott haggerty

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