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.

    2020 State of Digital Transformation
    Eaves, David, and Lauren Lombardo. 2020. “2020 State of Digital Transformation”. Read the full report Abstract

    David Eaves, Lauren Lombardo, February 2021 

    Starting in 2018, every year, the State of Digital Transformation report documents the main lessons from a Digital Services Convening hosted at Harvard Kennedy School. In 2020, Harvard Kennedy School and Public Digital hosted a series of discussions on the coronavirus digital response. These gatherings, which included a wide range of digital service groups, highlighted success stories, lessons learned, and tools that digital teams could leverage or repurpose. 

    This year's report highlights some of the new possibilities discussed at the convening and provides further reflections on crisis response. 

    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.

    The Analytics Playbook for Cities: A Navigational Tool for Understanding Data Analytics in Local Government, Confronting Trade-Offs, and Implementing Effectively

    Amen Ra Mashariki and Nicolas Diaz, August 2020 

    Properly used data can help city government improve the efficiency of its operations, save money, and provide better services. Used haphazardly, however, the use of analytics in cities may increase risks to citizens’ privacy, heighten cybersecurity threats, and even perpetuate inequities.

    Given these complexities and potentials, many cities have begun to install analytics and data units, often head by a chief data officer, a new title for data-driven leaders in government. This report is aimed at practitioners who are thinking about making the choice to name their first CDO, start their first analytics team, or empower an existing group of individuals.

    Elizabeth Patton, Gaylen Moore, and Jorrit de Jong; August 2020 

    Throughout the spring of 2020, the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, held eleven sessions on crisis leadership for city leaders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Over those harrowing weeks, as city leaders scrambled to protect their community members from the disease and provide services to the ill, the bereaved, and the vulnerable, these sessions offered a space for them to share their stories, concerns, hopes, and plans—and to get answers to their most pressing questions about the pandemic and how to mitigate not just the spread of the virus but also the economic and social fallout of measures taken to contain it.

    Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, August 2020 

    Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President of Prevent Epidemics at Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies, provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 in Latin America and Africa. Rawi Abdelal, Harvard Business School Professor and faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Jennifer Musisi, the former executive director of Kampala, Uganda, and City Leader in Residence at the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, facilitated a discussion between Mayors Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr of Freetown, Sierra Leone; Claudio Castro of Renca, Chile; and Bettina Romero of Salta, Argentina, on lessons learned while leading their cities through the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

    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. Cyrus Shahpar, Director of the Prevent Epidemics Team at Resolve to Save Lives, provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 in Latin America and Africa. Herman B. "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, facilitated a discussion on crisis leadership. The session was moderated by Rawi Abdelal, Harvard Business School Professor and faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Jennifer Musisi, the former executive director of Kampala, Uganda, and City Leader in Residence at the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

    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.

    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.

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

    Moore, Mark, Jorrit de Jong, Gaylen Moore, and George Veth. 2020. “Public Value Tool Kit”. Explore the Tool Kit Abstract

    Mark Moore, Jorrit de Jong, Gaylen Moore, and George Veth; July 2020 

    The Public Value Tool Kit is a set of materials designed to help educators and practitioners understand, utilize, and share the core concepts of the public value framework.

    Public value is a central principle in public management. It is the net “good” that public leaders produce that each of us—and all of us together—enjoy. 

    Based on Professor Mark Moore’s seminal Creating Public Value, this tool kit is the result of over four decades of dialogue with leaders and thinkers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. 

    The basic ideas contained in here will be familiar to anyone who has ever tried to solve a public problem or untangle a bureaucratic knot. What the tool kit offers public leaders and change agents is a common vocabulary and a logical framework that can help those who do this work become more focused and effectively leverage what experience has already taught them. 

    The Public Value Tool Kit is for anyone who sees the world with what Moore calls “a restless, value-seeking imagination”—the creative impulse and entrepreneurial spirit that inspires and propels change. This basic drive exists in all sectors, at all levels. This tool kit offers entry points and inspiration for each and every restless imagination.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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