During its 115th annual conference, the N.C. Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) presented New Hanover County with an Excellence in Innovation Award, according to a news release.
The award recognized the county’s efforts to streamline the local payment process for the Crisis Intervention Program, which is administered by New Hanover County Health and Human Services’ Social Services Department, the release stated.
The program provides county residents with energy bill assistance in times of need. Previously, applicants who were approved for assistance would receive a check, which could potentially take several weeks to issue. Now, funds are administered directly to a procurement card within days of approval, helping eliminate lag time and ensure faster payments.
“We pride ourselves on being the model of good governance with business principles that guide our interactions with the citizens we serve, including being effective and efficient in all that we do, easy to do business with and consistent in how we do it, and responsive and professional in our service,” said New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet in the release. “So when our Health and Human Services, Strategy and Finance teams recognized this was a program that could be improved, they developed and implemented a plan that would bring greater efficiencies, speed in service delivery, and ensure an easier process for those being served. This recognition from NCACC is a reflection on the business principles that guide us and the dedication of our team to serve the community.”
Since the Crisis Intervention Program went digital in February 2022, more than 1,900 procurement card payments have been made, helping New Hanover County residents keep their electricity on during a crisis, the release stated.
New Hanover's recognition was one of 10 Excellence in Innovation Awards given this year by NCACC to county governments in North Carolina for programs that help improve services to residents. Since 2016, New Hanover County has earned seven Excellence in Innovation Awards.
The process improvement for the Crisis Intervention Program was also recognized in July by the National Association of Counties with an Achievement Award in the category of Financial Management.