Publications

    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.

    Toward a Smarter Future: Building Back Better with Intelligent Civil Infrastructure -- Smart Sensors and Self-Monitoring Civil Works

    Stephen Goldsmith, Betsy Gardner, and Jill Jamieson; September 2021 

     

    The United States needs to build better infrastructure. The current repairs and replacements are disorganized and patchwork, resulting in unsafe, costly, and inequitable roads, bridges, dams, sidewalks, and water systems. A strategic, smart infrastructure plan that integrates digital technology, sensors, and data not only addresses these issues but can mitigate risks and even improve the conditions and structures that shape our daily lives.

     

    By applying data analysis to intelligent infrastructure, which integrates digital technology and smart sensors, we can identify issues with the country’s roadways, buildings, and bridges before they become acute dangers. First, by identifying infrastructure weaknesses, smart infrastructure systems can address decades of deferred maintenance, a practice that has left many structures in perilous conditions. Sensors in pavement, bridges, vehicles, and sewer systems can target where these problems exist, allowing governments to allocate funding toward the neediest projects.

    From there, these sensors and other smart technologies will alert leaders to changes or issues before they pose a danger—and often before a human inspector can even see them. The many infrastructure emergencies in the U.S. cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year, so identifying and fixing these issues is a pressing security issue. Further, as the changing climate leads to more extreme weather and natural disasters, the safety and resiliency of the country’s infrastructure is an immediate concern. Sensor systems and other intelligent infrastructure technology can identify and mitigate these problems, saving money and lives.

    In addition, intelligent infrastructure can be layered onto existing infrastructure to address public health concerns, like monitoring sewer water for COVID-19 and other pathogens or installing smart sensors along dangerous interstates to automatically lower speed limits and reduce accidents. It can also be used to improve materials, like concrete, to reduce the carbon footprint of a project, ultimately contributing to better health and environmental outcomes.

    Finally, addressing inequities is a major reason to utilize intelligent infrastructure. Research shows that people of color in the U.S. are exposed to more pollutants, toxic chemicals, and physical danger through excess car emissions, aging water pipes, and poor road conditions. The implementation and funding of these intelligent infrastructure projects must consider where—and to whom—harm has traditionally been done and how building back better can measurably improve the quality of life in marginalized and vulnerable communities.

    While there are challenges to implementing a sweeping intelligent infrastructure plan, including upfront costs and security concerns, all levels of government play a role in achieving a safer society. At the federal level, with infrastructure funding bills being debated at this moment, the government must look beyond roads and bridges and consider that intelligent infrastructure is a system: upheld, connected, and integrated by data. Through grants, incentives, and authorized funding, the federal government can effect monumental change that will improve how all residents experience their daily lives. At the state level, budgeting with intelligent infrastructure in mind will encourage innovative approaches to local infrastructure. And on a municipal level, cities and towns can invest in comprehensive asset management systems and training for local workers to best utilize the intelligent infrastructure data.

    Getting Value from Workforce Stimulus Investments: What Works in Youth Workforce Programs and How to Grow the Evidence Base

    Jane Wiseman, November 2020 

    The current economic crisis will likely inspire federal investment in training for unemployed and underemployed Americans. When funds are made available for youth workforce development, transparent reporting and publication of results data should be required. User-friendly reports should be created that enable unemployed and underemployed Americans to see which training providers achieve the best results, much as the current College Scorecard helps youth and their families evaluate colleges. This will benefit program recipients, the taxpayer, and society at large. Evidence about what works for youth workforce development is still in an early stage of maturity, so upcoming investments present an opportunity to advance the state of knowledge. With this data and insight, future investments can continue to fund effective programs and ineffective ones can be discontinued.

    Henson, Eric, Miriam R. Jorgensen, Joseph Kalt, and Megan Hill. 2020. “Federal COVID‐19 Response Funding for Tribal Governments: Lessons from the CARES Act”. Read the full report Abstract

    Eric C. Henson, Megan M. Hill, Miriam R. Jorgensen & Joseph P. Kalt; July 2020 

    The federal response to the COVID‐19 pandemic has played out in varied ways over the past several months.  For Native nations, the CARES Act (i.e., the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) has been the most prominent component of this response to date. Title V of the Act earmarked $8 billion for tribes and was allocated in two rounds, with many disbursements taking place in May and June of this year.

    This federal response has been critical for many tribes because of the lower socio‐economic starting points for their community members as compared to non‐Indians. Even before the pandemic, the average income of a reservation‐resident Native American household was barely half that of the average U.S. household. Low average incomes, chronically high unemployment rates, and dilapidated or non‐existent infrastructure are persistent challenges for tribal communities and tribal leaders. Layering extremely high coronavirus incidence rates (and the effective closure of many tribal nations’ entire economies) on top of these already challenging circumstances presented tribal governments with a host of new concerns. In other words, at the same time tribal governments’ primary resources were decimated (i.e., the earnings of tribal governmental gaming and non‐gaming enterprises dried up), the demands on tribes increased. They needed these resources to fight the pandemic and to continue to meet the needs of tribal citizens.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, July 2020 

    Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 within the United States and guidance on how to safely reopen schools. Juliette Kayyem, the Senior Belfer Lecturer in International Security at the Kennedy School, addressed mayors on strategies for effective communication in the midst of a complex and evolving crisis, contradictory or unreliable information, and a constantly shifting operational environment. The session was moderated by Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, the faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

    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.

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

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, June 2020 

    In the first session of the Leading Social and Economic Recovery series convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 within the United States. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, discussed racism and protests in the context of COVID-19, offering mayors recommendations on measures to consider when protesting to reduce exposure of COVID-19. Professor Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, addressed the mayors on how the global pandemic, economic recession, and renewed focus on racial justice provide city leaders with an opportunity to reinvent public governance. The session was moderated by Harvard Kennedy School Professor Jorrit de Jong, and Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, the faculty co-chairs of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, May 2020 

    In the eleventh session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Juliette Kayyem, the Belfer Senior Lecturer in International Security at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Dutch Leonard, the George F. Baker Jr. Professor of Public Management at the Kennedy School and Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration and Cochair of the Social Enterprise Initiative at Harvard Business School, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at the Kennedy School, review the crisis leadership tools to help mayors and city leaders navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 within the United States.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, May 2020 

    In the tenth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Rebecca Henderson, the John and Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard University, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, discussed scenario planning in a pandemic and offered tools for imagining and working through the implications of various plausible futures. Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 within the United States. Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director, offered guidance and answered mayors’ questions on responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, May 2020 

    In the ninth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Amy Edmondson, the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, discussed leading diverse and dispersed teams in times of crisis. Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Dr. Caitlin Rivers, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provide critical public health updates and general guidance for what organizations, businesses, and other settings need to do when they reopen, with information on how mayors can both help as well as support these efforts.

    Vice President Joe Biden highlighted the ongoing role mayors have in leading the response to the crisis.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, May 2020 

    In the eighth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and a leading expert on budgetary and public financial issues, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, discuss budgeting during a COVID-19. Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provide critical public health updates and examine metrics mayors need to have in order to reopen their communities. Chef Jose Andres offered words of inspiration in his welcoming remarks to the mayors.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the seventh session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Mitchell Weiss, Professor of Management Practice in the Entrepreneurial Management unit and the Richard L. Menschel Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Business School, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, lead a discussion on public entrepreneurship and how mayors can generate, try out and scale up new ideas while managing risk. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Dr. Lisa Cooper, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provide critical public health updates, examine racial disparities we are seeing during COVID-19, and offer actions mayors can take to address these disparities in their cities. Governor Hogan offered advice on convening a coronavirus response team to address the crisis in his welcoming remarks to the mayors.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the sixth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Nancy Koehn, James E. Robison chair of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, explored principles of leadership to effectively guide teams and communities during an unprecedented, multi-stage crisis. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering and the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provided critical public health updates and guidance on preventing the spread of the virus in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi advised the mayors to rely on science in her welcoming remarks.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the fifth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Howard Koh, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Kennedy School; Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School; Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Tom Frieden, former director of CDC, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, explored collaboration—across sectors, departments, and levels of government—and the challenges, conflicts, and opportunities for effective leadership and a resilient recovery that come with this work. Bill Gates stressed the importance of relying on science to guide reopening the economy in his welcoming remarks to mayors.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the fourth session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, moderated a discussion with Kimberlyn Leary, Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, on stress and mental health during the COVID-19 crisis. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided critical public health information, and Tom Frieden, former director of CDC, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, presented the latest thinking on the conditions necessary to lift restrictions, reopen the economy, and resume city life. President Barack Obama offered advice to mayors on speaking truthfully in his opening remarks.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, April 2020 

    In the third session of the COVID-19 Local Response Initiative convened by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided critical public health information. Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, moderated the discussion on learning as fast as you can and creating a basis for hope with Dutch Leonard, the George F. Baker, Jr. Professor of Public Management, at HKS and Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at HBS and Juliette Kayyem, the Belfer Senior Lecturer in International Security at HKS. President George W. Bush offered support for mayors and frontline health care workers in his opening remarks.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, June 2020 

    In the first session, Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 within the United States. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, discussed racism and protests in the context of COVID-19, offering mayors recommendations on measures to consider when protesting to reduce exposure of COVID-19. Professor Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, addressed the mayors on how the global pandemic, economic recession, and renewed focus on racial justice provide city leaders with an opportunity to reinvent public governance. The session was moderated by Harvard Kennedy School Professor Jorrit de Jong, and Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, the faculty co-chairs of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

    Fiscal Strategies to Help Cities Recover—And Prosper
    Goldsmith, Stephen, and Charles “Skip” Stitt. 2020. “Fiscal Strategies to Help Cities Recover—And Prosper.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Read the full report Abstract

    Stephen Goldsmith and Charles "Skip" Stitt, May 2020 

    Despite robust economies, many local officials entered 2020 already worried about budget balances that looked fragile in the short term and problematic in the long term due to enormous pension and health-care issues. Today, in the wake of COVID-19, clearly federal support is necessary, but it is also apparent that it cannot alleviate all the pressures on communities as responsibilities related to the pandemic skyrocket while revenues plummet.

    While many public managers will rightly deploy a host of tactical cost-cutting measures, the most creative among them will explore deeper and more strategic changes, such as those presented herein, which will help address the current crisis while preparing their cities for the future. This paper suggests a transition to a culture deeply focused on data, incentives for city workers to produce internal reforms, public-private partnerships that monetize operational excellence, and rapid adoption of both new technologies and good ideas borrowed from other jurisdictions. These more deliberate and strategic approaches may be harder to implement but those offered here need not harm incumbent public employees nor negatively impact cities’ efforts to ensure access and equity. Rather, the strategies we outline should strengthen the efficiency and mandates of existing government offices while helping make cities more resilient and better prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.

    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. 

    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.

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