ICMA Recognizes City of Oak Ridge for Program Excellence


The City of Oak Ridge has been recognized by ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, as a recipient of the organization’s Community Partnership Award for 2019. The award recognizes innovative programs or processes between and/or among a local government and other governmental entities, private sector businesses, individuals, or nonprofit agencies to improve the quality of life for residents or provide more efficient and effective services.

The City of Oak Ridge was formally honored during a Celebration of Service to the Profession as part of ICMA’s Annual Conference on Wednesday, October 23. Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, Government Affairs and Information Services Director Amy Fitzgerald, and Administrative Services Director Bruce Applegate accepted the award in Nashville.

The award highlighted the successful intergovernmental partnership that led to the American Museum of Science and Energy opening in a new centrally located space in Main Street Oak Ridge. The museum, operated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), faced an uncertain future in 2016. The museum’s building was oversized, energy inefficient, and was located on 18 acres of tax-exempt land in the heart of town. City staff engaged the DOE’s federal management team, as well as museum leadership, elected officials, and other stakeholders to find a solution.

As part of the collaborative project to save the museum, a private developer remodeled an existing facility and the City offered it rent-free to DOE. In turn, DOE transferred the museum property to the City at no cost. The City then turned the property over for mixed-use redevelopment that would generate tax revenues for city services. With Oak Ridge as the first all-grade STEM certified school system in Tennessee, the new museum is an opportunity to expose students to STEM-focused activities in a stimulating, state-of-the-art environment.

“Redeveloping underutilized property and closing an inefficient facility that drained limited public resources made this project a ‘win-win’ for everyone,” City Manager Mark Watson explained. “This creative solution, developed by local and federal government officials with a private sector partner, demonstrates the effectiveness of professional public managers working toward a common community goal.”

The ICMA Local Government Excellence Awards highlight creative contributions to professional local government management while demonstrating the difference that this type of management makes to the quality of life in our communities. ICMA’s Program Excellence Awards are presented to local governments and their chief administrators in recognition of their innovative and successful programs. Nominations are evaluated by an independent, 17-person panel of ICMA members.

“We congratulate the recipients of our 2019 Program Excellence Awards and the administrators and managers who lead them,” ICMA Executive Director Marc Ott said. “The communities and people recognized this year set the standard for innovation, effectiveness, and creativity. We thank them for their commitment to improving the lives of the constituents they serve every day.”

In addition to recognition at the Celebration of Service to the Profession in conjunction with the ICMA Annual Conference, the 2019 ICMA Annual Award recipients were highlighted in a commemorative booklet that was posted on icma.org in October and published in the October 2019 issue of PM magazine.