Publications

    Best Practices for the Governance of Digital Public Goods
    Eaves, David, Leonie Bolte, Omayra Chuquihuara, and Surabhi Hodigere. 2022. “Best Practices for the Governance of Digital Public Goods”. Read Full Text Abstract

    David Eaves, Leonie Bolte, Omayra Chuquihuara, and Surabhi Hodigere, April 2022

    “Digital government” is becoming simply “government.” As a result, an ever-increasing number of systems and processes critical to the operation of government—the core infrastructure of a state—are being digitized. This necessity creates enormous opportunities—to enhance, scale, and even standardize government services—and challenges—including a risk that building out this new infrastructure will impose costs that will reinforce global inequities.

    In this light, it is no surprise that Digital Public Goods (DPGs)—an institutionalized sharing of “open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content” between government and other actors—are an increasingly discussed model. This presents an opportunity to share the burden of modernizing the core infrastructure of a state.

    Inspired by the open-source movement, not only are DPGs non-rivalrous, but sharing them across jurisdictions could lower costs, speed adoption, and create standards to facilitate cooperation and trade. However, the joint management of any resource by sovereign entities—particularly of key infrastructure for the maintenance of public goods and services offered by the state—carries with it significant questions of governance.

    BenePhilly, City of Philadelphia: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

    Betsy Gardner, January 2022 

    The American social safety net exists to meet needs for: unemployment assistance, supplemental money for food, help with health care costs and medical expenses, and more. However, the process of signing up for these services is often time-consuming, confusing, repetitive, and frustrating.

    To address these challenges, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Benefits Data Trust (BDT) developed BenePhilly, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Departments of Aging and Human Services, to inform people of their eligibility for benefits and assist them in quickly and efficiently enrolling. This paper is a case study of the BenePhilly program and will serve as a guide to replicate its success. By using proven, data-driven methods, the program connects high-need, eligible individuals with up to 19 different benefits, all while reducing overall poverty, providing a better application experience, and increasing trust in local government.

    BenePhilly is a network of government agencies, nonprofits, and community-based organizations connecting Philadelphians to benefits through targeted, data-driven outreach, referrals from a network of organizations, and in-person and telephone application assistance. The trained staff at both BDT and the nonprofit organizations embedded in the communities they serve help individuals easily find and enroll in benefits. According to BDT’s Chief Strategy Officer Pauline Abernathy, BenePhilly has helped more than 125,000 Philadelphia residents secure over $1.6 billion in benefits as of January 2021.

    Designing for Community Engagement: Toward More Equitable Civic Participation in the Federal Regulatory Process

    Archon Fung, Hollie Russon Gilman, and Mark Schmitt; December 2021 

    To understand the advantages of and challenges to a reformed regulatory review process, New America’s Political Reform program and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government convened a group of local community engagement experts, public sector leaders, and on-the-ground organizers to share their expertise in designing processes that support more inclusive engagement, in particular working with historically underserved communities.

    During this discussion with local community engagement experts, we sought to identify the process designs and other innovations that would empower residents to exercise meaningful influence over decisions about the formation, review, and implementation of regulations. Our discussion focused on extending community engagement processes to give grassroots groups and affected parties a voice in the federal regulatory process.

    These experts agreed that when engagement is designed intentionally, policymakers can work with communities more effectively to garner information and insights, implement programs or provide services, and build trusting relationships. Furthermore, while participation in and of itself is important, designing more effective engagement can also ensure that participants identify and harness opportunities to protect their interests and influence decision-making. And, most importantly, transparent and inclusive engagement practices can improve policy outcomes and strengthen equity.

    Democratizing the Federal Regulatory Process: A Blueprint to Strengthen Equity, Dignity, and Civic Engagement through Executive Branch Action

    Archon Fung, Hollie Russon Gilman, and Mark Schmitt; September 2021 

    While legislation tends to get more attention, the regulatory process within the executive branch is at the core of day-to-day democratic governance. Federal regulation and rule-making engages dozens of agencies and affects every American. In writing the rules and regulations to implement laws, revise standards, and exercise the substantial authority granted to the presidency, the agencies of the federal government set directions, priorities, and boundaries for our collective life. At times, the regulatory process has moved the country in the direction of greater justice, equality, and security. At other times, it has pulled us in other directions, often with little public engagement or debate.

    The Biden-Harris administration acknowledged the centrality of the regulatory process with two actions on the President’s first day in office. The first called for modernizing the regulatory review process, particularly the central oversight role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The second was an executive order calling on the federal government to support underserved communities and advance racial equity. To understand the challenges to and advantages of a reformed regulatory review process, New America’s Political Reform Program and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government convened a group of academic experts from across the country to share their findings on the state of regulatory review and to identify alternative measures of not just the cost of regulations, but also the distributional impact of their costs and benefits. These experts specialize in administrative law, economic analysis, public participation, and regulatory review, and their work covers policy areas including patent law, healthcare, and environmental justice.

    Emerging Stronger than Before: Guidelines for the Federal Role in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes’ Recovery from the COVID‐19 Pandemic

    The COVID‐19 pandemic has wrought havoc in Indian Country. While the American people as a whole have borne extreme pain and suffering, and the transition back to “normal” will be drawn out and difficult, the First Peoples of America arguably have suffered the most severe and most negative consequences of all. The highest rates of positive COVID‐19 cases have been found among American Indian tribes, but that is only part of the story.

    Even before the pandemic, the average household income for Native Americans living on Indian reservations was barely half the U.S. average. Then the pandemic effectively shut down the economies of many tribal nations. In the process, tribal governments’ primary sources of the funding – which are needed to fight the pandemic and to meet citizens’ needs – have been decimated.

    As with the rest of the U.S., emergency and interim support from the CARES Act and other federal measures have helped to dampen the social and economic harm of the COVID‐19 crisis in Indian Country. Yet this assistance has come to the country’s 574 federally recognized Indian tribes with litigation‐driven delay and counterproductive strings attached, and against a pre‐ pandemic background characterized by federal government underfunding and neglect – especially as compared to the funding provided and attention paid to state and local governments.

    The 2020 Election Season and Aftermath: Preparation in Higher Education Communities
    Leonard, Herman B. "Dutch", Arnold M. Howitt, and Judith B. McLaughlin. 2020. “The 2020 Election Season and Aftermath: Preparation in Higher Education Communities”. Read the full report Abstract

    Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard, Arnold M. Howitt, and Judith B. McLaughlin; October 2020 

    There is widespread uncertainty and heightened anxiety on higher education campuses and elsewhere about what might happen during the 2020 election season in the United States. At every turn, we see elevated emotions and anxieties generated by the election process and related events, together with the potential for disruption of various kinds in the election process itself – before, during, and/or after the end of voting on November 3. This is compounded by the possibility of uncertainty, perhaps over many days or even weeks, about who has won various contests and about who will take office.

    A wide range of scenarios related to the election process and possible election outcomes have been described in mainstream media, in social media, and in other forums. Given the considerable (and, generally speaking, desirable) involvement and energy invested in these events within higher education communities among faculty, staff, students, and alumni, a number of these scenarios might well result in situations on campuses, in higher education communities, or in the surrounding communities where they reside that would call for institutional response. Many campus leaders and management groups are now thinking through what might be necessary or desirable and figuring out what they might usefully do in advance to prepare to provide the best response possible. Obviously, the difficulties of planning for the many possible circumstances that might confront us are compounded by the fact that all of this is taking place during an ongoing (and, indeed, now intensifying) pandemic accompanied by calls for racial justice and police reform. In this brief note, we suggest some ideas that might be helpful for higher education communities organizing themselves in the face of these uncertainties.

    Leonard, Herman B. "Dutch", Arnold M. Howitt, and David Giles. 2020. “Crisis Communications for COVID-19”. Read the full report Abstract

    Herman "Dutch" Leonard, Arnold Howitt, and David Giles; April 2020

    Communication with employees, customers, investors, constituents, and other stakeholders can contribute decisively to the successful navigation of a crisis.  But how should leaders think about what they are trying to say – and how to say it?

    This policy brief lays out simple frameworks that can be used to formulate the messages that leaders can and should – indeed, must – convey to help their communities and organizations make their way forward as effectively as they reasonably can.

    Leonard, Herman B. "Dutch", Arnold M. Howitt, and David W. Giles. 2020. “Crisis Management for Leaders Coping with COVID-19”. Read the full report Abstract

    Herman "Dutch" Leonard, Arnold Howitt, and David Giles; April 2020

    In the face of the rapidly evolving coronavirus crisis that demands many urgent decisions but provides few clear-cut cues and requires tradeoffs among many critically important values, how can leaders and their advisers make effective decisions about literally life-and-death matters?  This policy brief contrasts the current “crisis” environment with the more familiar realm of “routine emergencies.” It argues that for crises, leaders need to adopt a more agile, highly adaptive, yet deliberate decision-making method that can move expeditiously to action, while retaining the capacity to iteratively re-examine tactics in light of decision impacts. This method can help the team take account of the multiple dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis and cope as well as possible with swiftly changing conditions.

    Steve Kelman, August 2017

    In this paper Kelman discusses the role and importance of government in our society today. Debates over the role of government — often phrased as “big government” vs. “limited government” — are at the center of our political life. We debate the government’s role in health care and in regulating the environment. We debate levels of taxation. Yet there are crucial benefits of government that should be appreciated whether you are a person who thinks of yourself as liking government or not. These benefits come about because government has created an environment where we can in our everyday lives normally take the reliability and trustworthiness of others for granted. We flag down a taxi on the street, get into the driver’s car, and don’t worry this stranger might kidnap us. We walk on a sidewalk, and do not worry it will buckle beneath us. We drive a car, and do not worry the brakes won’t work. These are the unnoticed benefits of government, which we notice no more than a fish notices it is swimming in water.

    David Dapice, May 2017 

    The paper provides an updated assessment of the danger that the Rakhine state conflict poses to all of Myanmar in terms of cost in lives, international reputation, depressed FDI, ongoing violence and sectarian conflict. The author makes the case that settling the issue will require a strategy that extends beyond restoring security, one that offers a real possibility of success at a political and economic level. He offers that the path forward lies in enabling moderate local and central leaders to bring about a new idea of citizenship, enhancing local socio-economic prospects by investing in roads, power and irrigation, as well as by restricting illegal foreign fishing off the cost of Rakhine, and by extending health and education services throughout the province to all residents.

    David Dapice, February 2017, revised April 2017

    In this paper, David Dapice, considers the factors that are at the heart of the instability in Rakhine state and suggests options for approaching citizenship and mobility issues and for overcoming the constraints on implementing development in the state.

    Jane Wiseman, March 2017

    This paper describes findings and recommendations from 30 existing studies of government efficiency. The reports catalog a staggering number of recommendations, 2,021 in total, to improve the operations of government. Of the 30 studies, 23 include specific dollar-savings amounts that could be achieved as a result of implementing the recommendations. Annual dollar savings identified in the reports range from $18 million in Albany County, New York, to $7.3 billion in California. The total amount of savings identified in these 23 studies is nearly $17 billion in yearly value to the taxpayers of those cities and states. We estimate that if recommendations such as these were implemented across state and local government, a total of $30 billion in value could be returned to taxpayers each year.

    In this report, Innovations in American Government Fellow Charles Chieppo outlines a number of reforms intended to put the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) fiscal house in order.  Specifically, Chieppo notes that the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board found that the T is looking at a $170 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, which is projected to grow to $427 million by fiscal year 2020. With increases in expenses far outpacing revenue growth, absent reform, the T’s financial problems will continue to compound in future years leading to deteriorating infrastructure and faltering service levels. 
    From time to time, the attention of the media in the United States and around world turns to China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), typically around the time the NPC meets in March.  This paper is intended to provide an overview of the NPC's role in China's governmental hierarchy, its functions, and its membership.
    Anh, Vu Thanh Tu, Laura Chirot, David Dapice, Huynh The Du, Pham Duy Nghia, Dwight Perkins, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh. 2015. “Institutional Reform: From Vision to Reality”. Read full paper Abstract
    This paper is intended to provide context for the policy discussions that will take place during the fifth Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP). Over the course of the week-long VELP 2015, it is hoped that the arguments and ideas presented in this paper will be discussed, debated, and challenged, and that the paper will contribute constructively to the debate around critical questions facing the Vietnamese leadership and Vietnamese society more broadly today.
    Anh, Vu Thanh Tu, Laura Chirot, David Dapice, Huynh The Du, Pham Duy Nghia, Dwight Perkins, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh. 2015. “Institutional Reform: From Vision to Reality”. Read full paper Abstract
    This paper is intended to provide context for the policy discussions that will take place during the fifth Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP). Over the course of the week-long VELP 2015, it is hoped that the arguments and ideas presented in this paper will be discussed, debated, and challenged, and that the paper will contribute constructively to the debate around critical questions facing the Vietnamese leadership and Vietnamese society more broadly today.

    Tony Saich, December 2014 

    A recent survey asks citizens from 30 countries for their views on 10 influential national leaders who have a global impact (see Appendix). There are many rich findings among the data. However, two general trends stand out. The first is that the responses are influenced by geopolitics. Differences between nations and national leaders are clearly reflected in the attitudes of their own citizens. Thus, it is plain that the tensions between China and Japan result in very poor evaluations of China and its leader by Japanese citizens and vice versa. Second, there is a correlation in responses between the nature of the political system and citizen opinions of their own nation’s leader. On the whole, in multiparty systems or genuine two-party systems such as in Europe and the U.S., citizens are more critical of their national leaders and policies than is the case in those nations where politics is less contested.

    Dapice, David, and Thomas Vallely. 2013. “Against the Odds: Building a Coalition”. Read the full report Abstract

    Using a New Federalism for Unity and Progress in Myanmar
    David Dapice and Thomas Vallely, March 2013

    When in 2010, the President of the Union of Myanmar, the Speaker of the Lower House and several ministers decided to push for a rapid political opening, they engineered what could be called a critical juncture. This critical juncture now provides the country with an opportunity to move forward, not only with faster economic growth, but also with better quality growth and political change that will unify the nation and create broad progress. In exploring a possible approach toward unity and progress, this paper uses the framework developed in Why Nations Fail, a recent book on economic and political development and also refers to the idea of “illiberal democracy“ articulated by Fareed Zakaria. The basic idea is that a broad coalition of the incumbent party, the democratic opposition, ethnic groups and the military is needed to fundamentally change Myanmar’s past failed orientation. This broad coalition should work for a new federalism in which states (at a minimum) have fairly elected governors and meaningful revenue sources so they can run many of their own affairs. Recognizing that central to real progress is a transition from a repressive, extractive and exclusive political system with crony businesses to a broadly inclusive political system that spreads economic opportunity, the paper argues that broad political and economic change need to go hand in hand.

    David Dapice, May 2012 

    There is an immense challenge facing the leadership in Myanmar. They have to negotiate a nation and to reform the basic assumptions and processes that have ruled for the past decades. They need to make the new system more representative, more inclusive, less favorable to a narrow group of businessmen and government or army officials, and more broadly successful. The new system has to give minority groups a reason to want to be part of the new nation. That means not only creating new sources of growth and wealth, but also making rules that ensure the benefits go to many more than the relatively narrow groups who have largely benefitted in the past. The technical adjustments needed in the exchange rate, the financial system, taxing and spending, infrastructure investments, and competition policy will all ultimately be judged on the ability of the policy package to create the conditions for national unity and progress. The government needs to have a vision of this goal and how the pieces fit together. Getting it to work in a shaky world economy with new and still evolving institutions is a huge challenge. But for those who have seen the past clearly for what it was, there can be no doubt that moving forward together is better than going back or staying put.

    Herman B. ”Dutch” Leonard and Arnold M. Howitt – August 2012 

    Emergency response organizations must deal with both ”routine emergencies” (dangerous events, perhaps extremely severe, that are routine because they can be anticipated and prepared for) and ”true crises” (which, because of significant novelty, cannot be dealt with exclusively by pre-determined emergency plans and capabilities). These types of emergencies therefore require emergency response organizations to adopt very different leadership strategies, if they are effectively to cope with the differential demands of these events. This paper develops ideas about leadership under crisis conditions, concentrating on the political leadership and decision making functions that are thrust to the center of concern during such crisis events.

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