Publications

    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.

    2020 Public Narrative Impact Survey Overview Report

    Emilia Aiello and Marshall Ganz, July 2021

    This report describes the results of the 2020 Public Narrative Impact Survey administered to individuals who learned public narrative in classrooms and in workshops between 2006 and 2020. Individual responses to the survey items provide data that will inform efforts to learn how public narrative is being used in different domains of usage (workplace, constituency groups, and campaigns; and within the private sphere, in interpersonal relationships such as family and friends), areas of societal action (e.g., advocacy/organizing in education, health, politics), and cultural and geographical contexts as well.

    The 2020 Public Narrative Impact Survey is part of the research project Narratives4Change led by Dr. Emilia Aiello, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 841355. As part of this larger project, two research questions guided the survey. First, how is public narrative being used by individuals as a leadership practice within different domains of usage (e.g., workplace, constituency groups, campaigns, and within the private domain including family and friends)? Second, what impact does use public narrative have as reported by “users” at the individual, community, societal, and institutional level?

    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).

    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.

    Playing by the Informal Rules
    Li, Yao. 2018. Playing by the Informal Rules. Cambridge University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Yao Li, Cambridge University Press, November 2018  

    Growing protests in non-democratic countries are often seen as signals of regime decline. China, however, has remained stable amid surging protests. Playing by the Informal Rules highlights the importance of informal norms in structuring state-protester interactions, mitigating conflict, and explaining regime resilience. Drawing on a nationwide dataset of protest and multi-sited ethnographic research, this book presents a bird's-eye view of Chinese contentious politics and illustrates the uneven application of informal norms across regions, social groups, and time. Through examinations of protests and their distinct implications for regime stability, Li offers a novel theoretical framework suitable for monitoring the trajectory of political contention in China and beyond. Overall, this study sheds new light on political mobilization and authoritarian resilience and provides fresh perspectives on power, rules, legitimacy, and resistance in modern societies.

     

    The topic of moral competence is generally neglected in the study of public management and policy, yet it is critical to any hope we might have for strengthening the quality of governance and professional practice. What does moral competence consist of? How is it developed and sustained? These questions are addressed in this book through close examination of selected practitioners in Asian countries making life-defining decisions in their work. The protagonists include a doctor in Singapore, a political activist in India, a mid-level bureaucrat in central Asia, a religious missionary in China, and a journalist in Cambodia – each struggling with ethical challenges that shed light on what it takes to act effectively and well in public life. Together they bear witness to the ideal of public service, exercising their personal gifts for the well-being of others and demonstrating that, even in difficult circumstances, the reflective practitioner can be a force for good.
    Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability
    Khagram, Sanjeev, Archon Fung, and Paolo de Renzio. 2013. Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability. Brookings Institution Press/Ash Center,. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung, and Paolo Renzio, Brookings Institution Press, 2013  

    Decisions about “who gets what, when, and how” are perhaps the most important that any government must make. So it should not be remarkable that around the world, public officials responsible for public budgeting are facing demands – from their own citizenry, other government officials, economic actors, and increasingly from international sources – to make their patterns of spending more transparent and their processes more participatory. Surprisingly, rigorous analysis of the causes and consequences of fiscal transparency is thin at best. Open Budgets seeks to fill this gap in existing knowledge.

    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.

    in Program, Innovations Government. 2008. “Celebrating 20 Years of Government Innovation ”. Read the full report Abstract

    Innovations in Government Program, March 2008 

    This report offers findings and subsequent analysis of the winners of the Innovations in American Government (IAG) Awards honored between 1986 and 2007. The findings were released at the Institute’s “Frontiers of Innovation: Celebrating 20 Years of Innovation in Government” conference held March 31 through April 2, 2008.

    Gilberto Garcia, July 2005 

    After analyzing 271 government programs qualified as innovative through having won a national government and local management award in Mexico, and submitting a questionnaire to the 79 persons responsible for some of the best practices in the municipal government in the years 2001, 2002, and 2003, this paper identifies and analyzes variables that have a bearing on the emergence and sustainability of the innovation process in Mexico’s local governments. The results show paradoxes in the process of innovation of organizations needing to accomplish increasingly complex objectives through a lack of mechanisms to accrue intermediate and long-term technical expertise, as well as organizational learning. This paper also describes the differences in the process of innovation according to three contextual variables: organization capability, institutional development, and political and electoral competition.