Publications

    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.

    As the second case in the two-part Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill case study, Case B builds upon Case A’s overview of the disaster and early response of the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in late April 2010, by focusing on the challenges the National Incident Command encountered as it sought to engage with state and local actors – an effort that would grow increasingly complicated as the crisis deepened throughout the spring and summer of 2010.

    Following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in late April 2010, the Obama administration organized a massive response operation to contain the enormous amount of oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico. Attracting intense public attention and, eventually, widespread criticism, the response adhered to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a federal law that the crisis would soon reveal was not well understood – or even accepted – by all relevant parties. This two-part case profiles the efforts of senior officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as they struggled to coordinate the actions of a myriad of actors, ranging from numerous federal partners (including key members of the Obama White House); the political leadership of the affected Gulf States and sub-state jurisdictions; and the private sector. Case A provides an overview of the disaster and early response; discusses the formation of the National Incident Command (NIC), which had responsibility for directing response activities; and explores the NIC’s efforts to coordinate the actions of various federal entities.

    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.

    On January 15, 2009, shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of Canada geese. The geese were then sucked into the plane’s twin engines, causing total engine failure and the loss of power. Case A of this three-part series recounts how over the following four minutes, Flight 1549’s Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles grappled with a variety of extreme challenges. Not only did they have to keep the plane under control, but they also had to quickly decide whether they could make an emergency landing at a nearby airport – or find another alternative to get the plane down safely in one of the most crowded regions in the country. Cases B and C then describe how, after the plane landed in the cold waters of the Hudson River, emergency responders from many agencies and private organizations – converging on the scene without a prior action plan for this type of emergency – scrambled to both rescue passengers and crew and stabilize the aircraft as it began to move downstream.

    This case prompts readers to consider the challenges of responding to a sudden crisis involving intense pressure and significant uncertainty. By highlighting the actions the captain and crew of US Airways Flight 1549 took following the failure of the plane’s two engines. Cases B and C illustrate the complexities of coordinating a multi-organizational response involving actors from a range of public agencies and private sector partners.

    On January 15, 2009, shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of Canada geese. The geese were then sucked into the plane’s twin engines, causing total engine failure and the loss of power. Case A of this three-part series recounts how over the following four minutes, Flight 1549’s Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles grappled with a variety of extreme challenges. Not only did they have to keep the plane under control, but they also had to quickly decide whether they could make an emergency landing at a nearby airport – or find another alternative to get the plane down safely in one of the most crowded regions in the country. Cases B and C then describe how, after the plane landed in the cold waters of the Hudson River, emergency responders from many agencies and private organizations – converging on the scene without a prior action plan for this type of emergency – scrambled to both rescue passengers and crew and stabilize the aircraft as it began to move downstream.

    This case examines the steps political leaders, emergency management professionals, and public health officials in Louisiana and Texas took to improve their capacity to evacuate, shelter, and repatriate individuals with special needs following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, both of which revealed serious shortcomings when it came to the execution of evacuation processes. (In the context of evacuation management, the term “special needs“ generally refers to people requiring assistance to move out of harm’s way, including those with disabilities and medical conditions, the elderly, the institutionalized, the homebound, and people without direct access to their own means of transportation.) The case also looks at how well the states’ revised plans prepared them to manage yet another round of special needs evacuations when, in 2008, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike threatened the New Orleans and Houston metropolitan regions, respectively.

    Parents as Teachers: Missouri – 1987 Innovations Winner 

    In the early 1980s, Missouri’s director of early childhood education launched a novel parent education pilot project designed to increase children’s kindergarten readiness and support family well-being by sending specially trained educators on monthly home visits to help parents foster their babies’ early development. By 1985, when an evaluation touted strong results for the pilot, the Missouri legislature already had made the program – dubbed Parents as Teachers – a mandatory offering of school districts statewide. Soon after, the St. Louis-based Parents as Teachers National Center, formed to oversee the state program and respond to outside inquiries, became an independent nonprofit. From the start, the National Center staff built quality controls into program design and the training of parent educators while simultaneously embracing rapid growth; by 1999 Parents as Teachers programs served more than 500,000 children in the U.S. and six foreign countries. But despite such quality control efforts, the flexibility and adaptability that aided fast replication left the National Center with no effective way to manage or monitor the more than 2,000 sites worldwide. As a result, the National Center was forced to take a hard look at its replication model, its oversight role, and at how the center could better monitor and improve program quality.

    This two-case series allows discussion of key issues facing growing nonprofits, in particular, weighing the tradeoffs inherent in different replication strategies; managing the tension between rapid growth and quality control; and analyzing how political and funding constraints can impact program design. While the (A) case addresses replication, training, organizational structures, and program design, the (B) case focuses on questions around evaluation, program fidelity, and implementation of quality standards.

    Making Government Work: Lessons from America's Mayors and Governors

    Stephen Goldsmith, Contributor, May 2000

    The role of government, particularly at the state and local levels, has evolved dramatically over recent years. In Making Government Work, a bipartisan collection of the nation's most innovative governors and big city mayors describe how they make government more efficient and effective. From welfare to clean water, these original essays discuss a wide variety of issues and propose progressive solutions that will influence the thinking of all Americans interested in politics.

    Read Goldsmith's Chapter 

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