Publications

    On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sandy’s massive size, coupled with an unusual combination of meteorological conditions, fueled an especially powerful and destructive storm surge, which caused unprecedented damage in and around New York City, the country’s most populous metropolitan area, as well as on Long Island and along the Jersey Shore. This two-part case study focuses on how New York City prepared for the storm’s arrival and then responded to the cascading series of emergencies – from fires, to flooding, to power failures – that played out as it bore down on the city. Profiling actions taken at the local level by emergency response agencies like the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), the case also explores how the city coordinated with state and federal partners – including both the state National Guard and federal military components – and illustrates both the advantages and complications of using military assets for domestic emergency response operations.

    Part B of the case highlights, among other things, the experience of Staten Island, which experienced the worst of Sandy’s wrath. In the storm’s wake, frustration over the speed of the response triggered withering public criticism from borough officials, leading to concerns that a political crisis was about to overwhelm the still unfolding relief effort.

    On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sandy’s massive size, coupled with an unusual combination of meteorological conditions, fueled an especially powerful and destructive storm surge, which caused unprecedented damage in and around New York City, the country’s most populous metropolitan area, as well as on Long Island and along the Jersey Shore. This two-part case study focuses on how New York City prepared for the storm’s arrival and then responded to the cascading series of emergencies – from fires, to flooding, to power failures – that played out as it bore down on the city. Profiling actions taken at the local level by emergency response agencies like the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), the case also explores how the city coordinated with state and federal partners – including both the state National Guard and federal military components – and illustrates both the advantages and complications of using military assets for domestic emergency response operations.

    On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray, a young African American male, died while in the custody of the Baltimore Police. In response to his death, which occurred less than a year after a similar incident in Ferguson, Missouri, protestors mobilized daily in Baltimore to vocalize their frustrations, including what they saw as law enforcement’s long-standing mistreatment of the African American community. Then, on April 27, following Gray’s funeral, riots and acts of vandalism broke out across the city. Overwhelmed by the unrest, the Baltimore police requested assistance from other police forces. Later that evening, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the Maryland National Guard. At the local level, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a nightly curfew beginning Tuesday evening.

    “Into Local Streets” focuses on the role of the National Guard in the response to the protests and violence following Gray’s death, vividly depicting the actions and decision-making processes of the Guard’s senior-most leaders. In particular, it highlights the experience of the state’s Adjutant General, Linda Singh, who soon found herself navigating a complicated web of officials and agencies from both state and local government – and their different perspectives on how to bring an end to the crisis.

    On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray, a young African American male, died while in the custody of the Baltimore Police. In response to his death, which occurred less than a year after a similar incident in Ferguson, Missouri, protestors mobilized daily in Baltimore to vocalize their frustrations, including what they saw as law enforcement’s long-standing mistreatment of the African American community. Then, on April 27, following Gray’s funeral, riots and acts of vandalism broke out across the city. Overwhelmed by the unrest, the Baltimore police requested assistance from other police forces. Later that evening, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the Maryland National Guard. At the local level, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a nightly curfew beginning Tuesday evening.

    “Into Local Streets” focuses on the role of the National Guard in the response to the protests and violence following Gray’s death, vividly depicting the actions and decision-making processes of the Guard’s senior-most leaders. In particular, it highlights the experience of the state’s Adjutant General, Linda Singh, who soon found herself navigating a complicated web of officials and agencies from both state and local government – and their different perspectives on how to bring an end to the crisis.

    In summer and fall of 2014, thousands of individuals in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea contracted the Ebola virus. This outbreak of the deadly disease, which until then had been highly uncommon in West Africa, prompted a major (albeit delayed) public health response on the part of the international community, including an unprecedented commitment made by the United States, which sent almost 3,000 active military soldiers to Liberia. “Mission in Flux” focuses on the US military’s role in the Ebola response, emphasizing the Michigan National Guard’s eventual involvement. In particular, it provides readers with a first-hand account of the challenges the Michigan Guard faced as it prepared for and then deployed to Liberia, just as the crisis had begun to abate and federal officials in Washington began considering how to redefine the mission and footprint of Ebola-relief in West Africa.  

    Jane Wiseman, August 2017

    This Operational Excellence in Government Project case study describes how the state of Washington implemented two key operational efficiency strategies for government — performance management and employee-driven process improvement. The effort, called Results Washington, sets priorities and then focuses on delivery to achieve results that make a difference in the lives of Washingtonians. Results Washington was launched in 2013 by Governor Jay Inslee. He established five top-priority statewide goals and challenged state government leaders to track their progress against these goals and to apply Lean thinking and tools to improve their processes.

    Jane Wiseman, August 2017

    This Operational Excellence in Government case study describes how Atlanta identified $92 million in one-time savings and $25 million in annual savings by improving the efficiency of its operations. The Atlanta government efficiency report that identified these savings is highlighted by the Operational Excellence in Government Project for its excellence among existing efficiency studies, for the rigor of the process that created it, and for the strength of results achieved. This report stands out among others of this type for its reliance on data as a key component of the process and for its level of implementation detail.

    Steve Kelman, August 2017

    In this paper Kelman discusses the role and importance of government in our society today. Debates over the role of government — often phrased as “big government” vs. “limited government” — are at the center of our political life. We debate the government’s role in health care and in regulating the environment. We debate levels of taxation. Yet there are crucial benefits of government that should be appreciated whether you are a person who thinks of yourself as liking government or not. These benefits come about because government has created an environment where we can in our everyday lives normally take the reliability and trustworthiness of others for granted. We flag down a taxi on the street, get into the driver’s car, and don’t worry this stranger might kidnap us. We walk on a sidewalk, and do not worry it will buckle beneath us. We drive a car, and do not worry the brakes won’t work. These are the unnoticed benefits of government, which we notice no more than a fish notices it is swimming in water.

    Jane Wiseman, August 2017

    This Operational Excellence in Government case study describes, for the first time, efforts by New York City's deputy mayor for operations and his team to optimize the city’s real estate portfolio. New York City government employees occupy 300 million square feet of offices, schools, police and fire stations, warehouses, and the like. There had never before been an effort to view the entirety of the space as an asset that could be allocated more efficiently. Rather, over case study: New York City Office Space Optimization 4 time, individual departments had independently acquired or leased the space they needed, predominantly with their own usage standards.

    de Jong, Jorrit, Lisa Cox, and Alex Green. 2017. “A Task Force with Teeth? Driving City Performance in Lawrence, Mass.”. Abstract

    Jorrit de Jong, Lisa Cox, and Alex Green; June 2017 

     

    After taking office, Mayor Daniel Rivera creates a new task force to combat blight in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Although blight was not on Rivera’s campaign agenda, he soon realizes that the issue is worth his attention. The issue of blight and distressed properties is complex and far-reaching, having to do with his city’s public health and safety, inequality, and real estate prices. Although Rivera feels he has little flexibility to change staffing levels on a short-term basis, he endeavors to motivate the team members he has. But creating a task force from entrenched groups poses challenges. Effecting change is slow, and Rivera often feels the task force is not making a dent in the problem. The case describes a data tracker for collecting information on distressed properties from disparate sources, and the tracker includes over 40 input fields.

    This case allows participants to understand how such a tool is developed, but pushes them even further to understand how to use data to address pressing problems once the data is collected. An accompanying teaching note includes theory and conceptual frameworks to lead classroom discussion on the case.

     

    On April 15, 2013, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev placed and detonated two homemade bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three bystanders and injuring more than two hundred others. This case profiles the role the Massachusetts National Guard played in the complex, multi-agency response that unfolded in the minutes, hours, and days following the bombings, exploring how its soldiers and airmen helped support efforts on multiple fronts – from performing life-saving actions in the immediate aftermath of the attack to providing security on the region’s mass transit system and participating in the search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev several days later. It also depicts how the Guard’s senior officers helped manage the overall response in partnership with their local, state, and federal counterparts. The case reveals both the emergent and centralized elements of the Guard’s efforts, explores the debate over whether or not Guard members should have been armed in the aftermath of the bombings, and highlights an array of unique assets and capabilities that the Guard was able to provide in support of the response.

    Jane Wiseman, March 2017

    This paper describes findings and recommendations from 30 existing studies of government efficiency. The reports catalog a staggering number of recommendations, 2,021 in total, to improve the operations of government. Of the 30 studies, 23 include specific dollar-savings amounts that could be achieved as a result of implementing the recommendations. Annual dollar savings identified in the reports range from $18 million in Albany County, New York, to $7.3 billion in California. The total amount of savings identified in these 23 studies is nearly $17 billion in yearly value to the taxpayers of those cities and states. We estimate that if recommendations such as these were implemented across state and local government, a total of $30 billion in value could be returned to taxpayers each year.

    This case explores the experiences of three Manhattan-based hospitals during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Beginning with an overview of how the hospitals prepared in the months and days leading up to the storm, it focuses primarily on decisions made by each institution, as Sandy approached, about whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate hundreds of medically fragile patients -- the former strategy running the risk of exposing individuals to dangerous and life-threatening conditions, the latter being an especially complex and difficult process, not without its own dangers. Ultimately, each of the three hospitals profiled in the case took a different approach, informed by their differing perceptions of risk and other unique circumstances. The case illustrates the very difficult trade-offs hospital administrators and local and state public health authorities grappled with as Sandy bore down on New York and vividly depicts the ramifications of these decisions, with the storm ultimately inflicting serious damage on Manhattan and across much of the surrounding region.
    This epilogue accompanies case number 2055.0. In September 2014, as several West African countries continued to battle a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus, Dallas, Texas, emerged as ground zero for the disease in the U.S. This case recounts how, over the course of three days, Thomas Eric Duncan, who had recently arrived in the city from Liberia, reported twice to Dallas Presbyterian Hospital exhibiting signs of illness. Having sent him home after his first visit, the hospital admitted him after his second; and with his symptoms worsening rapidly, tests soon revealed everyone’s worst fear: he had Ebola. “Fears and Realities” describes how local, state, and federal public health authorities, along with elected officials and hospital administrators, responded to the alarming news – a hugely difficult task made all the more challenging by confusion over Duncan’s background and travel history, and, eventually, by the intense focus and considerable concern on the part of the media and public at large. Efforts to curtail the spread of the disease were further complicated when two nurses who had cared for Duncan also tested positive for Ebola, even though they apparently had followed CDC protocols when interacting with him. With three confirmed cases of the disease in Dallas – each patient with their own network of contacts – authorities scrambled to understand what was happening and to figure out a way to bring the crisis to an end before more people were exposed to the highly virulent disease.
    In September 2014, as several West African countries continued to battle a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus, Dallas, Texas, emerged as ground zero for the disease in the U.S. This case recounts how, over the course of three days, Thomas Eric Duncan, who had recently arrived in the city from Liberia, reported twice to Dallas Presbyterian Hospital exhibiting signs of illness. Having sent him home after his first visit, the hospital admitted him after his second; and with his symptoms worsening rapidly, tests soon revealed everyone’s worst fear: he had Ebola. “Fears and Realities” describes how local, state, and federal public health authorities, along with elected officials and hospital administrators, responded to the alarming news – a hugely difficult task made all the more challenging by confusion over Duncan’s background and travel history, and, eventually, by the intense focus and considerable concern on the part of the media and public at large. Efforts to curtail the spread of the disease were further complicated when two nurses who had cared for Duncan also tested positive for Ebola, even though they apparently had followed CDC protocols when interacting with him. With three confirmed cases of the disease in Dallas – each patient with their own network of contacts – authorities scrambled to understand what was happening and to figure out a way to bring the crisis to an end before more people were exposed to the highly virulent disease.
    “Ready in Advance” prompts students to consider what pre-event preparedness measures allowed officials in Tuscaloosa, AL to respond to a major tornado in 2011. Among other things, it illustrates the usefulness of group training initiatives, dedicated political leadership, and organizational frameworks that enable coordination across functions and sectors. The case demonstrates how taking advance action can lead to effective in-the-moment response, ultimately minimizing disaster risk and damage.
    In this report, Innovations in American Government Fellow Charles Chieppo outlines a number of reforms intended to put the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) fiscal house in order.  Specifically, Chieppo notes that the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board found that the T is looking at a $170 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, which is projected to grow to $427 million by fiscal year 2020. With increases in expenses far outpacing revenue growth, absent reform, the T’s financial problems will continue to compound in future years leading to deteriorating infrastructure and faltering service levels. 
    In spring 2009, North Dakota experienced some of the worst flooding in state history. This case describes how the state's National Guard responded by mobilizing thousands of its troops and working in concert with personnel and equipment from six other states as well as an array of federal, state, and local stakeholders. Specifically, after providing background on the North Dakota National Guard and the state's susceptibility to flooding, the case captures how Guard officials developed and practiced a plan ("Operation Rollback Water") to respond to the floods and how they then had to adapt that plan as the crisis escalated and conditions changed. In particular, the Guard had to work with a large amount of federal resources that arrived amid the crisis, it had to respond to demands for extensive and rapid assistance from a range of municipalities, and it had to endure a prolonged event that taxed Guard members in the field and the operations and management team that supported them. The case concludes with an epilogue that describes how the Guard applied the lessons it learned from the 2009 floods in response to a similar disaster in 2011.
    In spring 2009, North Dakota experienced some of the worst flooding in state history. This case describes how the state's National Guard responded by mobilizing thousands of its troops and working in concert with personnel and equipment from six other states as well as an array of federal, state, and local stakeholders. Specifically, after providing background on the North Dakota National Guard and the state's susceptibility to flooding, the case captures how Guard officials developed and practiced a plan ("Operation Rollback Water") to respond to the floods and how they then had to adapt that plan as the crisis escalated and conditions changed. In particular, the Guard had to work with a large amount of federal resources that arrived amid the crisis, it had to respond to demands for extensive and rapid assistance from a range of municipalities, and it had to endure a prolonged event that taxed Guard members in the field and the operations and management team that supported them. The case concludes with an epilogue that describes how the Guard applied the lessons it learned from the 2009 floods in response to a similar disaster in 2011.

    In spring 2009, North Dakota experienced some of the worst flooding in state history. This case describes how the state's National Guard responded by mobilizing thousands of its troops and working in concert with personnel and equipment from six other states as well as an array of federal, state, and local stakeholders. Specifically, after providing background on the North Dakota National Guard and the state's susceptibility to flooding, the case captures how Guard officials developed and practiced a plan ("Operation Rollback Water") to respond to the floods and how they then had to adapt that plan as the crisis escalated and conditions changed. In particular, the Guard had to work with a large amount of federal resources that arrived amid the crisis, it had to respond to demands for extensive and rapid assistance from a range of municipalities, and it had to endure a prolonged event that taxed Guard members in the field and the operations and management team that supported them. The case concludes with an epilogue that describes how the Guard applied the lessons it learned from the 2009 floods in response to a similar disaster in 2011.

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