Publications

    Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, State of Ohio: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

    Colleen Crispino, January 2022 

    Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), Ohio’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, is responsible for providing employment-related services to eligible individuals in Ohio to help them achieve their employment goals. Their program model, designed to improve employment outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities, addresses some of the barriers that exist for these populations. Since 2013, their Business Relations team has partnered with more than 500 employers statewide to match skilled candidates to available jobs. As part of this service, OOD provides no-cost solutions for employers, including improved worksite accessibility and accommodations and training on disability etiquette and awareness. These strategies have resulted in increased hiring of VR participants by employer partners.3

    As part of their innovative service system, OOD partners with large employers in the Columbus area to embed Ohio State VR staff in each employer’s human resources department to quickly match qualified candidates with disabilities to open positions. OOD first tested this approach with one major employer in 2017, leading to the hiring of 60 individuals with disabilities in the first three years. They later expanded the program to include an additional major employer, in a different industry, with similarly positive results.

    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.

    Pathways to Economic Advancement, Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

    Jeanne Batalova, January 2022 

    Adult English learners (ELs) are as likely to find jobs in the U.S. labor market as those who speak English fluently. There are significant differences, however, when it comes to salary, job quality, and professional opportunities. Today, more than 240,000 working-age adults are in need of English-language services in Greater Boston, with most seeking to improve their English fluency to find a job or get pro- moted. Despite this need, only 11,600 adults receive English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services each year. As a result, adult ELs are often limited in their ability to contribute to local and state economies in terms of taxes and consumer spending.

    Developed by Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) in Boston, the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement (Pathways) program started with a fundamental question: Given the high unmet demand for vocational and workplace English, how do we effectively scale up a proven workforce-oriented model of teaching adults English for employment. Through its four program tracks and an innovating fund- ing model (Pay for Success), Pathways offers a continuum of work-related ESOL services coupled with individualized job coaching and job placement.

    Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, City University of New York: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

    Philip Jordan, January 2022 

    Social and economic mobility are at historic lows in America, while entrenched racial inequality cotinues to erect barriers. Research suggests that education is critically important to enable economic mobility, particularly for the lowest-income populations, which are most frequently served by the patch- work of community colleges across the US.

    While progress in expanding access and enrollment at community colleges over the past 20 years is significant, the rate of degree completion has generally not improved. Systemic barriers, including financial, social, and academic, persist. Three-year completion rates for associate degrees are very low, and there is a significant achievement gap for racial and ethnic minorities. Eliminating barriers to success is not easy and the community colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY) have not been immune to these challenges. However, while many programs attempt to overcome these obstacles, few have demonstrated verifiable success and none more so than CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP).

    Public Narrative and Its Use in the Stand Up with the Teachers Campaign in Jordan (QMM)

    Emilia Aiello, April 2021

    This report presents and discusses the main findings of the case study on the “Stand up with the teachers’ campaign” supported by the organization Ahel in Jordan, carried out in the framework of the Narratives4Change research project.

    This case study is part of the research project Narratives4Change led by Dr. Emilia Aiello, and which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 841355. This is a 36-month research investigation consisting in two main phases: data collection and analysis in an outgoing phase (outside of Europe), and implementation of results in a return phase (in Europe). This way, the first 24 months of the project (outgoing phase) have been carried out at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), and the last 12 months (return phase) will take place in Europe, at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB, Barcelona, Spain).

    Disrupting the Party: A Case Study of Ahora Madrid and Its Participatory Innovations

    Quinton Mayne and Cecilia Nicolini, September 2020 

    In this paper, Quinton Mayne and Cecilia Nicolini examine the rise of Ahora Madrid, a progressive electoral alliance that—to the surprise of onlookers—managed to gain political control, just a few months after being formed, of the Spanish capital following the 2015 municipal elections. Headed by the unassuming figure of Manuela Carmena, a former judge, Ahora Madrid won voters over with a bold agenda that reimagined the relationship between citizens and city hall. Mayne and Nicolini’s analysis is a case study of this innovation agenda. The paper begins by exploring how Ahora Madrid’s agenda emerged as a response to, and built off of, historic levels of political disaffection and mass mobilization spurred by the 2008–2014 Spanish financial crisis. The authors examine how the alliance’s agenda of democratic disruption was realized, first through an unusual bottom-up electoral campaign and then, after taking office, by challenging and rethinking established relations between public officials, civil society, and city residents.  

    Mayne and Nicolini show that while Ahora Madrid’s time in power was not without its challenges, it still successfully implemented a set of far-reaching democratic reforms centered on institutional innovation. This included the creation of an internationally recognized online civic engagement platform, the establishment of neighborhood forums, and the implementation of a €100 million participatory budgeting process. Although Ahora Madrid lost the 2019 elections and the city swung back to the right, a number of its reforms, explored by Mayne and Nicolini in the case study’s conclusion, live on in an altered form, serving as a reminder of the alliance’s original bold vision for the city. 

    Husock, Howard, Inessa Lurye, Gaylen Moore, Archon Fung, and Jorrit de Jong. 2020. “Leading Civic Engagement: Three Cases”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Howard Husock, Inessa Lurye, Gaylen Moore, Archon Fung, and Jorrit de Jong; July 2020 

    These three short cases are stories of city officials leading civic engagement and public participation in pursuit of public goals. From a variety of different positions in city government, the protagonists in each case departed from typical bureaucratic processes to reach out directly to the public, using unexpected methods to solicit input, raise awareness, and effect behavioral change in their communities. In the first case, the new director of the Seattle Solid Waste Utility, Diana Gale, implemented sweeping changes to the City’s solid waste collection practices. To secure compliance with new rules and regulations and tolerance for inevitable stumbles along the way, she developed a public relations capacity, became the public face of her agency, and embraced an ethos of humility and accountability. In the second case, Antanas Mockus, the eccentric mayor of Bogotá, sought to improve public safety—focusing particularly on the unregulated and lethal use of fireworks around the Christmas holiday. He tried at first to effect change through persuasion, offering citizens alternatives to fireworks and engaging vendors in the effort to reduce fireworks-related injuries and deaths. When a child suffered severe burns, however, Mockus followed through on a threat to ban firework sales and use in the City. In the third case, David Boesch, city manager of Menlo Park, California, decided to engage residents in setting priorities around cost reduction as a major budget shortfall loomed for the coming fiscal year. He hired a local firm to plan and execute a comprehensive participatory budgeting process. In a city with a sharp divide between haves and have-nots, Boesch and his partners had to take special care to ensure that everyone’s interests were heard and represented in budgetary decision-making.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case(s).

    Sanderijn Cels, Jorrit de Jong, Marijn Groenleer, and Erica Weinberger; July 2020 

    In June 2015, a task force convened in the Netherlands to consider cross-sectoral approaches to fighting organized crime in the south of the country, particularly in the homegrown marijuana industry. From that larger group, five professional managers and officials were tasked with devising an approach to target and break up criminal drug gangs that paid or coerced residents in beleaguered neighborhoods to grow pot in back rooms or attics; activities which put a huge strain on the power supply and greatly increased the risk of fire.

    The five men did not know each other and came from different organizations or professional backgrounds with their own training and ideas: the police, the regional utility company, the national tax bureau, the mayor’s office in nearby Breda, and the public prosecutor’s office. A policeman would not see the problem, or the solution, in the same way as a utility company manager. How would the five manage to work together—not just devise an approach, but return to their organizations and convince their bosses and colleagues this could work? Not all of the team were based in the City of Breda, but Breda, under the auspices of Mayor Paul Depla, would serve as the first trial ground to identify a neighborhood and carry out an operation to see if the new cross-sectoral approach could work.

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    Rivkin, Jan, Susie Ma, and Michael Norris. 2020. “Design Decisions for Cross-Sector Collaboration: Mini-Case Modules”. Abstract

    Jan Rivkin, Susie Ma, and Michael Norris; June 2020

    These five short cases aim to help city leaders explore whether working with sectors outside their own government organizations is the right path forward, and how to be effective if/when they choose to engage in cross-sector collaboration. The cases especially highlight key design decisions that every cross-sector collaboration must make, to help students reflect on design decisions of their own collaborative efforts.

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    Fernando Monge, Jorrit de Jong, and Linda Bilmes; June 2020  

    In 2018, Bilbao was presented with the Best European City award, adding the prize to a long list the Spanish city had collected since the mid-2000s. The success was often attributed to the Guggenheim museum, giving name to the "Guggenheim effect." This was based on a fairly shallow assessment of the City's transformation. In fact, the building blocks of Bilbao's transformation are to be found in the collaborative efforts established by government entities during the 1990s, in the context of a deep economic, political, and social crisis.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    de Jong, Jorrit, Carlos Paiva, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Rawi Abdelal. 2020. “Driving Change in São Paulo”. Read full case study Abstract

    Jorrit de Jong, Carlos Paiva, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Rawi Abdelal; May 2020 

    In 2016, after many months of negotiation, the City of São Paulo approved a new ordinance regulating Transportation Network Companies (TNC). The new regulation allowed citizens to take advantage of innovative services and it enabled city leaders to manage the fleet with significant savings as well as unprecedented transparency and data. São Paulo, the first Brazilian city to adopt this model, faced internal responses ranging from vehement opposition to overwhelming support.

    The case chronicles the road to implementation, including lessons learned from the TNC ordinance process and the previous pilots. It examines the efforts of key players—including Administration Secretary Paulo Spencer Uebel—to fulfill Mayor João Doria’s public commitment to fix the transportation model, consider public opinion, and minimize disruption during Doria’s first year in office. The case also explores strategies for implementing innovative practices in government as well as dealing with resistance to change in organizations, especially in the public sector.

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    Lisa Cox and Jorrit de Jong, May 2020 

    In 2011, at the newly formed Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Judith Tumusiime, an impassioned technocrat who prided herself on operating outside of politics, was charged with transforming a “filthy city” to a clean, habitable, and healthy one. Early in her tenure, she was able to vastly improve Kampala’s solid waste management (SWM) system by creating efficiencies, increasing accountability, and bringing her technical know-how to a team that held little expertise. But by 2015, after several years of strong momentum, Tumusiime felt that her progress was stalling, and she faced political challenges around creating a sustainable SWM system.

    More specifically, her team was grossly overextended and needed to assign some of its SWM responsibilities to private contractors through an innovative public-private partnership (PPP). To ensure that the PPP was viable, Tumusiime strongly believed that all residents, no matter their income, needed to pay fees for garbage collection. However, the federal and local elections were approaching in February 2016, and politicians had told their constituents that they would not allow garbage collection fees, leaving Tumusiime with little support for her long-term vision. She was faced with a challenge: she could either dive into a political world that she had never wanted anything to do with to see if she could achieve radical change, or she could continue to make tweaks that might achieve short-term, small improvements at a slow—and even halting—pace.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Norgaard, Stefan, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “In the Green: Negotiating Rail Expansion in Somerville, MA”. Read full the case study Abstract

    Stegan Norgaard, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020

    Successful litigation against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made an original, legal, and moral case for building alternative transportation in Somerville: the Green Line Extension (GLX). Having campaigned on extending the Green Line—first as alderman, then as mayor—Joe Curtatone took office as mayor in 2005. His first victory was creating a MBTA “T” stop for the Orange Line at Assembly Station. Working with the same coalition of nonprofits, he pursued a participatory visioning process (“SomerVision”) that brought together over sixty organizations from different sectors in Somerville, that had a common vision for the GLX. Curtatone overcame hiccups surrounding industrial parcels and successfully kept the project eligible for a federal NewStarts grant; using an economic-development narrative, he acquired the problematic parcels through eminent domain. By 2014-2015, though, the project was running over budget and it was uncertain whether the Commonwealth would support the GLX.

    Curtatone negotiated with the State of Massachusetts and agreed on simplifications to the original GLX, including a shorter route that would no longer directly benefit neighboring regional communities. He also negotiated project funding by the Cities of Cambridge and Somerville and the Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization board (BRMPO). But then, the Commonwealth announced a shortfall of roughly $200 million, that Curtatone resolved through an agreement: Somerville paid $50M, Cambridge $25M, and the BRMPO diverted funding for the rest. The narrower GLX project was approved and construction began in May 2018. This case is designed as the capstone case in a series of negotiation cases developed by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. 

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    Knoop, Carin-Isabel, Carlos Paiva, Jorrit de Jong, and Rawi Abdelal. 2020. “Fortaleza: Keeping An Electoral Promise”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Carin-Isabel Knoop, Carlos Paiva, Jorrit de Jong, and Rawi Abdelal; May 2020 

    During his re-election campaign in 2016, Mayor Roberto Cláudio faced recurring complaints from voters concerning the availability of essential medicines at their health clinics. Limited access to medicine frustrated patients and health care providers, raised the cost of treating chronic conditions, and increased the risk of infectious diseases. It also placed the City in violation of Brazil’s constitution that guaranteed access to essential medicines to patients of the public health system, most of whom were low income. In Cláudio’s first term, Fortaleza’s public health network went through significant advances, renovating the majority of its health clinics and improving access to medical personnel. The team’s considerable progress nonetheless fell short of a comprehensive solution for the lack of access to medicine. This became one of Cláudio’s main campaign promises, and a priority for his second term. The case chronicles how he approached a persistent problem, changed tactics and teams, and pushed for the necessary improvements and innovations to fulfill his promise.

    The case raises questions around how to deliver on a campaign promise when your organization seems to have hit a ceiling in performance improvement: When do you push harder for better execution and advancement of current systems? When do you invest in something new to achieve optimal performance? What is the role of mayoral leadership in ensuring that goals are achieved?

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Roberts, Brady, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “The Queen City’s Collective and Compassionate Approach: Fighting Opioids and Homelessness in the Granite State”. Read full the case study Abstract

    Brady Roberts, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

    Elected at the height of the opioid epidemic, Mayor Joyce Craig came to represent the City of Manchester, New Hampshire as it grappled with the dual tragedies of substance abuse and chronic homelessness. An idealist in a state that valued personal responsibility and financial restraint, Craig had successfully expanded her City’s services to those seeking treatment for opioid use disorder and shelter. But these were hard-fought victories at every stage, and there was still work to be done. With just a few months remaining in her first two-year term, the mayor found herself on the eve of another difficult negotiation. She had recently established a diverse Task Force on Homelessness and set her sights on permanently solving Manchester’s homelessness and opioid crises. Next, Craig had to convince her counterparts at the state and local level to dedicate equitable funding to solving these intractable, moral challenges. (See Teaching Case Appendix 1 for a timeline of events in the case.)

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Jorrit de Jong and Eric Weinberger, May 2020 

    Jennifer Musisi, a career civil servant most recently with the Uganda Revenue Authority, was appointed by President Museveni as executive director (equivalent to city manager) of a new governing body for Uganda’s capital, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). Previously, power in Kampala had been held by an elected body, the Kampala City Council (KCC), dominated by opposition politicians and notorious for corruption, poor service delivery, and inadequate tax and revenue collections.

    As head of the new KCCA, a quasi-corporate authority now under central government, Musisi’s job was to change all that, and quickly, by fighting corruption and modernizing (thereby increasing) tax and revenue collections. She had to decide which municipal fees or taxes would recoup the greatest revenues for maximum impact on her city-improvement agenda of better roads, clean streets and markets, modern drainage and lighting, and more.

    Musisi also needed to find ways to remove longtime private tax agents who took, supposedly, a 10 percent commission from the City but in fact withheld most of their receipts, sometimes extorting additional, unofficial sums. Property tax—as it is throughout the world—was potentially Kampala’s most lucrative revenue source, but here Musisi’s effectiveness was limited without national legislative reform and government support. Thus, her most difficult challenges were transit and trading, on which thousands of poor people depended for their living while being vulnerable to private revenue collectors, middlemen, local bosses, and law enforcement.

    The case describes an extremely difficult, often dangerous situation in a fast-growing African capital, and an individual determined to make Kampala the model city she believed it could be. How did Musisi even begin? What was the best strategy for raising own-source revenue (OSR), and how did she navigate the politics—both ways, that is, with opposition city politicians who cultivate the poor, but also with President Museveni and his governing NRM (National Resistance Movement)? In recent history African capitals have depended on central government transfers for their budgets and that is still the case in Kampala. But with little expectation that she would get more support from central government, Musisi had to collect enormous sums for the improvements needed for Kampala’s infrastructure, health services, schools, and general business environment.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Moore, Gaylen, Chistopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess. 2020. “Making a Statement: Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Sanctuary City of Oakland, CA”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Gaylen Moore, Christopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess; May 2020 

    In February 2018, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf learned through unofficial sources that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was planning to arrest a large number of undocumented immigrants in her City. Oakland had been a “sanctuary city” since 1986, and more than one in ten residents were undocumented. Mayor Schaaf believed that the ICE action was the Trump administration’s political retaliation against California’s sanctuary cities. She feared that law-abiding immigrants in her community—who she saw as scapegoats for a broken federal immigration system—would be swept up in the raid and subject to deportation. Faced with very little time and potentially significant legal implications, Mayor Schaaf had to decide whether and how to alert the community to a threat she took to be highly credible.

    The case is designed to help mayors, city leaders, and other public executives think through adaptive leadership challenges with highly sensitive moral dimensions.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.
     

    Vo, Hung, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “Beyond the Table: Infrastructure Development in Kampala, Uganda”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Hung Vo, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

    Uganda’s development relied heavily on the economic growth and management of its capital city, Kampala. The World Bank had been active in Uganda’s urban sector since the 1980s and, in 2007, awarded Kampala a $33 million loan for institutional reforms and infrastructure development. Yet by the project’s 2010 deadline, only 30 percent of the project had been completed. Given the delays and its skepticism of a new, inexperienced administration, the World Bank threatened to withdraw funding. Nonetheless, Judith Tumusiime—first as a technical consultant and then as deputy executive director of the newly established Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)—managed to turn the project around within two years, an almost miraculous transformation. Beyond revitalizing and completing the project’s first phase, could Tumusiime convince the World Bank to invest even more in the second phase?

    The case explores Tumusiime’s work to regain trust with the World Bank and persuade it to not only fund a second phase of the project, but to also significantly increase its funding commitment to the City. It examines how Tumusiime navigated her team, the World Bank, other local officials, and national level government actors. Moreover, it unpacks the misguided notion that a negotiation is a solely interpersonal activity that occurs at the table; a broader understanding of process—specifically scope and sequence—can impact the outcome (1). Drawing from David Lax and James Sebenius’ 3-D negotiation framework, the case demonstrates how Tumusiime built a strategy to effectively sequence actions in her negotiation with the World Bank. Her strategic vision and interpersonal strengths enabled her to make dynamic setup moves, improving her ability to negotiate at the table and craft a better deal with the World Bank.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Vo, Hung, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “Many Ways to Get There: Securing Public Investments in Richmond, VA”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Hung Vo, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020 

    The City of Richmond elected Levar Stoney as its youngest mayor in 2016. Mayor Stoney campaigned for better-funded public schools, government accountability, and crime prevention. One of the mayor’s main responsibilities was to propose biannual budgets to a nine-member city council, which could approve the budget as proposed or pass it with amendments. This case illustrates Stoney’s efforts to increase Richmond’s real estate tax from $1.20 to $1.29 per $100 of assessed value. This tax increase was quickly rejected by a majority of city council members. Disagreements climaxed when the mayor’s administration walked out of a city council budget hearing, prompting council members to respond by voting to pursue legal action against Stoney.

    This case focuses on how positional bargaining prevents creative deal-making when negotiators fail to understand the interests of other parties. By exploring Stoney’s relationship with city council, the case emphasizes the downsides of positional bargaining and the opportunities for better outcomes with an interest-based approach to negotiation. This case also introduces the four negotiation concepts of interests, options, criteria, and alternatives, and examines their relevance to city-level negotiations.

    Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

    Norgaard, Stefan, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian. 2020. “In the Weeds: Securing a Grass-Mowing Contract in Stockton, CA”. Read the full case study Abstract

    Stegan Norgaard, Elizabeth Patton, Monica Giannone, Brian Mandell, Jorrit de Jong, and Guhan Subramanian; May 2020

    Kurt Wilson, the City Manager of Stockton, CA, joined the city government ten months after the City declared bankruptcy. After successfully steering Stockton out of bankruptcy, Wilson committed to implementing a set of permanent financial control measures to ensure that the City remained fiscally solvent well into the future. He had an extensive background in both the private and nonprofit sectors and had served as city manager in four other California cities.

    Stockton’s Long-Range Financial Plan (L-RFP) indicated that the City could spend, at most, approximately $1.3M in 2019 fiscal year (FY19) on a contract to mow grass on city medians. The City had spent $1.2M the previous year. Wilson believed shortages of tradespeople in the Bay Area—caused in part by demand for construction after California wildfires—would affect price points. At worst, he thought he could justify spending $1.6M on the contract. Wilson cared about the fiscal health of Stockton, but he also wanted to ensure high-quality public services.

    When the City issued its RFP, bids started at $2.26M, well above what Stockton could afford. After considering his options, Wilson issued a new RFP that included a lower “base” scope of services with modular components that the City could accept or decline depending on cost. Stockton ended up spending $1.91M for a year of service, but even as costs increased, tall grasses remained on city medians. Wilson wondered whether there might have been a better way for the City to have anticipated the higher prices.

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