Congratulations to Rich Bowlen of Northwoods, Winner of the 23rd Annual Better Government Competition

Pioneer Institute Hosts 23rd Annual Better Government Competition

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh Delivered Keynote at Awards Ceremony 

Pioneer Institute recognized the winner and runners-up of its annual Better Government Competition at an awards dinner on Thursday, featuring a Keynote Address by Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston 

Mayor Walsh







“Compass® CoPilot,” a proposal to integrate data collection and reporting at state and county human services agencies, is the winning entry in the 23rd annual Better Government Competition. This year’s contest sought ideas that leverage technology to improve the public sector.

“Here in Massachusetts, we are all too familiar with the tragic consequences of communication failures within the state Department of Children and Families,” said Jim Stergios, Executive Director of Pioneer Institute. “While technology is not a cure-all, we know that increased information sharing can help protective services agencies focus on serving the needs of victims of neglect and abuse.”

The winning entry recommends integrating mobile technology with electronic document management systems at human services agencies to improve caseload management, increase productivity, reduce overtime and staff turnover, lower travel costs, and most importantly protect children and families from abuse and neglect. It was submitted by Rich Bowlen, Director of Protective Services at Northwoods, an Ohio-based technology firm with over 100 human service agency clients across the country. Bowlen delivered a moving acceptance speech at the awards ceremony.

Rich Bowlen of Northwoods

Watch a video clip of Rich Bowlen explaining how Compass® Pilot and CoPilot applications are helping human services agencies in four states integrate data collection and reporting through mobile technology. Participating agencies experience daily net savings of 1.5 – 2 hours per social worker, improving caseload management and productivity. As a result, they are better able to protect the children in their charge.

The Better Government Competition winner and four runners-up were selected by a distinguished panel of judges from the business, legal, non-profit and municipal government communities:

  • Andrew O. Davis, Managing Partner, Overall Capital Partners
  • Keith N. Hylton, William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
  • Patrick Larkin, Director, The Innovation Institute, MassTech Collaborative
  • David O’Connor, Senior Vice President for Energy and Clean Technology, ML Strategies, LLC
  • Kevin Stokes, Chief Information Officer, Town of Brookline

The four runners-up to the 2014 Better Government Competition are:

  •, a start-up company that is placing vacant public land available for purchase into an online, searchable database designed to reduce government maintenance costs, and increase economic development. Submitted by Alexander Kapur, Co-Founder.
  • Handicap Parking Permit Application and Management System, a three-part, web-based system to streamline the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles’ parking permitting process for disabled residents, significantly reducing customer wait periods and staff time. Submitted by Betty Johnson, Nebraska DMV Vehicle Services Administrator.
  • Independent Risk Manager model, a third-party entity with the IT infrastructure and expertise to manage care services for costly patient populations, relieving physicians of the administrative burdens that jeopardize their independence. Submitted by Caitlin Reiche, Stephanie Zaremba, senior managers, athenahealth, Inc.
  • City Hall to Go, a Boston-based, mobile delivery program that gives residents access to dozens of municipal services within their own neighborhood. Submitted by Danielle Valle Fitzgerald, Director, City Hall to Go, City of Boston.

Watch this video of the runners up, and read their winning entries:

To learn more about this year’s winning entry, runners-up, and special recognition recipients, please visit

The 23rd annual Better Government Competition Awards Ceremony recognized award winners before an expected audience of nearly 200 elected officials, policy leaders, and members of the business community.

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