Publications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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?

    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.

    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.

    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. “You Get What You Pay for: Reforming Procurement in Naperville, Illinois”. Read the full case study Abstract

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

    Naperville, Illinois is a suburb of approximately 150,000 people in the Chicago metropolitan area. Traditionally, the City focused on price for all procurement negotiations, but it often had few vendors applying for key contracts and struggled to negotiate on both price and quality.

    Naperville’s original procurement process was called Quality-Adjusted Cost (QAC). This process sought to simplify a myriad of concerns and variables (including price, quality, timeline, and scope, among others) into a single metric, so that the City could easily and objectively evaluate bids. Although QAC attempted to incorporate quality into the evaluation, there were instances when it seemed the best vendor was not selected.

    In an effort to improve the quality of City services, Naperville adopted a new procurement approach called “Cost as a Component.” This revamped process allowed the City to negotiate with vendors on more than just price for technology upgrades and aimed to ensure long-term partnerships with relevant firms, creating value for both vendors and the City. This case illustrates the trade-offs between QAC and “Cost as a Component” for Naperville and prompts participants to apply negotiation concepts to the broader process of city procurement.

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

    David Dapice, February 2017, revised April 2017

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

    Dealing with Dysfunction: Innovative Problem Solving in the Public Sector

    Jorrit de Jong, Brookings Institution Press, 2016

    How can we intervene in the systemic bureaucratic dysfunction that beleaguers the public sector? De Jong examines the roots of this dysfunction and presents a novel approach  to solving it. Drawing from academic literature on bureaucracy and problem solving in the public sector, and the clinical work of the Kafka Brigade — a social enterprise based in the Netherlands dedicated to diagnosing and remedying bureaucratic dysfunction in practice, this study reveals the shortcomings of conventional approaches to bureaucratic reform. The usual methods have failed to diagnose problems, distinguish symptoms, or identify root causes in a comprehensive or satisfactory way. They have also failed to engage clients, professionals, and midlevel managers in understanding and addressing the dysfunction that plagues them. This book offers conceptual frameworks, theoretical insights, and practical lessons for dealing with the problem. It sets a course for rigorous public problem solving to create governments that can be more effective, efficient, equitable, and responsive to social concerns.

    Recognizing Public Value
    Moore, Mark H. 2013. Recognizing Public Value. Harvard University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Mark H. Moore, Harvard University Press, 2013

    Mark H. Moore's now classic Creating Public Value offered advice to public managers about how to create public value. But that book left a key question unresolved: how could one recognize (in an accounting sense) when public value had been created? Here, Moore closes the gap by setting forth a philosophy of performance measurement that will help public managers name, observe, and sometimes count the value they produce, whether in education, public health, safety, crime prevention, housing, or other areas. Blending case studies with theory, he argues that private sector models built on customer satisfaction and the bottom line cannot be transferred to government agencies.

    When Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe learned of the emergence of H1N1 (commonly referred to as “Swine Flu”) in late April 2009, she had to quickly figure out how to coordinate an effective response within her state’s highly balkanized public health system, in which more than 90 local health departments wielded considerable autonomy. Over the next several months, she would come to rely heavily on relationships she had worked hard to establish with local health officials upon becoming commissioner – but she and her senior advisors would also have to scramble to find new ways to communicate and coordinate with their local partners, who represented jurisdictions that varied considerably in terms of size, population demographics, resources, and public health capacity.