Publications

    Seattle Recycling Program: Seattle, WA – 1990 Innovations Winner


    The closing of two landfill sites creates a municipal crisis in Seattle, forced to find new disposal options for the 2,000 tons of garbage it produces each day. Political concerns over what appears to be the most practical disposal option – construction of a major municipal incinerator – prompts the city’s Solid Waste Utility to undertake an innovative study to examine the extent to which recycling could minimize the city’s trash disposal needs. This case broadly examines the “Recycling Potential and Disposal Options“ study with an eye toward understanding the relationship between the political process and the techniques of public policy analysis. The case is designed to frame questions as to the proper relationship between policy analyst and elected official, and the ways in which analysis is constrained, properly or improperly, by political considerations.

    Low-Income Assisted Mortgage Program: West Virginia – 1993 Innovations Winner

    When a local chapter of the Habitat for Humanity organization learns that a state-chartered development fund might be able to provide it with financial help, the non-profit organization faces a decision. Should it accept funds from a public agency? Would doing so jeopardize its independence and push the organization in directions it might not want to go? So, too, does the Development Fund face decisions as it contemplates aiding the non-profit, which builds small homes for the near-poor, in part through the use of volunteer labor. Should Habitat’s religious affiliation bar the Fund from helping it? Should Habitat be allowed to retain control over who gets to purchase the homes it builds? This case focuses on the intersection of the public and non-profit sectors and raises questions about when they should or shouldn't overlap.

    Info/California: California – 1993 Innovations Winner

    The growth of the kind of new interactive technologies promise to make it more convenient and less expensive for government, like private providers of consumer goods and services, to serve its customers – whether they seek a driver’s license or unemployment compensation. Incorporating such technologies implies change, however, and, as this case makes clear, requires decisions about when and how automated transactions should be the norm. The story of the Info/California decision focuses on competing visions of a new, interactive system which promises to allow Californians to obtain records, licenses and program information of all sorts. For its champion within state government, it makes most sense for a scarce number of interactive terminals to be placed in public areas – supermarkets, malls and the like. He must, however, face a demand by a state agency that a terminal be used to make up for laid-off employees in a place where the public has been accustomed to going for records and licenses. Developed for the Kennedy School’s Program on Strategic Computing, this case allows for discussion of the relationship between mission and technology.

    Wraparound Milwaukee: Milwaukee County, WI – 2009 Innovations Winner

    The Wraparound Milwaukee program was created in 1995 by Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and provides services and treatment to severely emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children and youth. The program utilizes the “wraparound philosophy” to provide the children and youth it serves with a highly individualized, community, and strength-based approach to care. The delivery of services are facilitated by a Care Coordinator who works with the family to choose the right services from Wraparound Milwaukee’s network of individual providers and community based organizations. The program’s funding is pooled from several state and county agencies. Wraparound Milwaukee’s innovative approach to care has brought considerable savings to the county $3,878 per month per child for Wraparound Milwaukee versus $8,000-$10,000 per month per child that the county paid for residential placement. Wraparound Milwaukee has seen positive outcomes in the youth it serves after disenrollment in terms of clinical health indicators as well as other indicators.

    CompStat: New York, NY – 1996 Innovations Winner

    This abridgement is based on the case ”Assertive Policing, Plummeting Crime: The NYPD Takes on Crime in New York City” (1530.0). The abridgement of the case divides the story of the change in the New York Police Department into three, roughly chronological parts – the diagnosis of the crime and organizational problems, the development of a new system of practices and incentives and a description of the variety of impacts which the new ”assertive policing” regime appeared to have. The three parts (1557.3, 1558.3, 1559.3) and Epilogue (1557.1) can be used individually or together. They should not be used along with the full case and sequel (1530.0, 1530.1) but should, instead, be considered a substitute approach.

    By August 2011, one year after the apex of Pakistan’s 2010 flooding crisis, recovery efforts had progressed substantially – but many Pakistanis still needed assistance. This epilogue highlights key accomplishments as well as some of the remaining challenges associated with the recovery, while also exploring actions taken by the national government to address problems experienced during the 2010 response. It closes by exploring how Pakistan and the international humanitarian community dealt with yet another round of severe flooding that occurred in late summer 2011.

    New York Acquisition Fund: New York, NY – 2008 Innovations Winner

    This three-part case study presents the initial problem, the thinking, the politics, and the design negotiations that produced New York City’s “NYC Acquisition Fund” in August 2006. The case concludes with a brief round-up of performance data and commentary from the Fund’s first two and a half years of operation.

    The NYC Acquisition Fund was created to deliver loans to small and nonprofit affordable housing developers, allowing them to compete with market-rate developers to buy property in New York City on the open market at a time of rampant speculation, rapidly rising prices, and fierce competition. It represented a groundbreaking effort to use public sector funds and authority, together with foundation capital, to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in loan capital from private lenders. In September 2008, the Fund was named a winner of the annual Innovations in American Government competition, sponsored by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, which declared it a “national model.”

    The case is divided in three parts in the interest of maximum teaching flexibility. Teachers may want to assign their students to read one, two, or all three parts, depending on the nature of the class. Although the case includes finance concepts and terms, they are presented clearly and simply for the benefit of lay readers. Part One: Birth & Launch of an Idea, pp. 1-16, describes the intellectual and political history of the Fund – how City Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan came up with the idea, and how he and his allies made it a reality. Part Two: Portrait of the New York City Acquisition Fund LLC, pp. 17-26, describes the structure and principles of the Fund and details the six toughest design questions, negotiated among the Fund’s partners over a 14-month period: what kinds of projects would be eligible? how firm a commitment would the City make to funding each project upfront? when and how would loan underwriting be delegated? how, exactly, would risk be allocated among the lenders, foundations, and City? and what loan terms would be available to borrowers? Part Three: Fund Performance, August 2006 to March 2009, pp. 27-29, briefly sketches the Fund’s performance in its first two-and-a-half years. The case includes 11 exhibits, pp. 30-58.

    In 2005, the Parliament of India enacted the Right to Information Act, giving citizens of India a right to access the records of official acts by any public authority. Many individuals and organizations were involved in the lengthy and difficult struggle to get this legislation enacted. This case focuses on one of these individuals, Aruna Roy, regarded by many observers as a key player in empowering citizens to exercise the democratic right to make their government transparent and accountable. It traces the trajectory of her career as she searched for an effective platform for political and social change, to improve the lives of the poor and socially marginalized while adhering firmly to her commitment to lead an ethical life.

    Kentucky Video Courts: Kentucky – 1988 Innovations Winner

    When a shortage of court reporters threatens to delay trials and back up the appeals process, Kentucky's Administrative Office of the Courts considers new technology as a solution to its problem. Video ”transcripts” of court proceedings hold the potential to sidestep the labor problem plaguing the courts. The use of video cameras to record court proceedings raises questions, however. Would a video record truly provide as useful a product as a written transcript? Would judges – and the courts themselves – accept video as a legal record? Director Don Cetrulo of the Administrative Office of the Courts, intrigued by the promise of video, must ponder both its implications – and the fact that no proven automatic camera technology existed in the mid-1980s that could adapt to the multiplicity of speakers and locations. Before he can reach the point of considering the legal impact of video court reporting, Cetrulo must decide whether to go so far as to award state funds to a local manufacturer who believes he can devise such a system.

    Racial Integration Incentives: Cleveland, OH – 1998 Innovations Winner

    Should an Ohio state agency provide low-interest loans to home buyers moving into areas in which they are ”racially under-represented” – even if they are whites in affluent suburbs moving into neighborhoods which might otherwise ”tip” to become all-black? The Ohio Housing Finance Agency confronts the questions of whether racial underrepresentation should be defined in percentage terms – and whether racial integration per se represents progress for black homebuyers. The case explores the history of efforts to manage racial integration in suburban Cleveland and highlights competing philosophies regarding the role of government in influencing residential racial patterns. It allows for discussion of ways in which public values evolve through the policymaking process.

    Move Information, Not Property: U.S. Department of Defense – 1999 Innovations Finalist

    This government re-engineering case focuses on the agency responsible for procuring goods and services (other than weapons) for the Department of Defense. New leadership at the DLA must deal with a sharply changed system. Rather than receiving an annual appropriation, the mammoth agency must bill its multitude of customers – the various military services – for performing procurement tasks. In trying to make itself a customer-focused operation, DLA considers changing both the management structure of its headquarters and the relationship between its headquarters and field offices.

    CompStat: New York, NY – 1996 Innovations Winner

    This abridgement is based on the case ”Assertive Policing, Plummeting Crime: The NYPD Takes on Crime in New York City” (1530.0). The abridgement of the case divides the story of the change in the New York Police Department into three, roughly chronological parts – the diagnosis of the crime and organizational problems, the development of a new system of practices and incentives and a description of the variety of impacts which the new ”assertive policing” regime appeared to have. The three parts (1557.3, 1558.3, 1559.3) and Epilogue (1557.1) can be used individually or together. They should not be used along with the full case and sequel (1530.0, 1530.1) but should, instead, be considered a substitute approach.

    Maine Top 200 Experimental Targeting Program: U.S. Department of Labor – 1995 Innovations Winner

    The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, created by Congress in 1970 to curtail what was viewed as a still-alarming level of industrial accidents, had, 20 years later, become a lightning rod for controversy. Its advocates viewed it as a bulwark of the defense of sale working conditions but opponents portrayed it as abusively intrusive, creating bureaucratic nightmares for employers. With that backdrop – and with dwindling manpower and other resources – OSHA officials in Maine, in 1991, try a radically different approach to their task, targeting 200 businesses which data has told them are the state’s most important to bring into compliance. OSHA hopes both to avoid diluting the inspection capacity it has – and to find ways to persuade, rather than to coerce through the law, business to make improvements. The apparent success of the Maine 200 program comes at a time when the new Clinton Administration is eager to find such government ”reinvention” programs it can widely replicate. This case allows, first, for analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Maine 200 effort as an example of gaining compliance through a new form of enforcement, and, second, for discussion of the complications, and advisability, of taking a small program ”to scale.”

    Maine Top 200 Experimental Targeting Program: U.S. Department of Labor – 1995 Innovations Winner

    The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, created by Congress in 1970 to curtail what was viewed as a still-alarming level of industrial accidents, had, 20 years later, become a lightning rod for controversy. Its advocates viewed it as a bulwark of the defense of sale working conditions but opponents portrayed it as abusively intrusive, creating bureaucratic nightmares for employers. With that backdrop – and with dwindling manpower and other resources – OSHA officials in Maine, in 1991, try a radically different approach to their task, targeting 200 businesses which data has told them are the state’s most important to bring into compliance. OSHA hopes both to avoid diluting the inspection capacity it has – and to find ways to persuade, rather than to coerce through the law, business to make improvements. The apparent success of the Maine 200 program comes at a time when the new Clinton Administration is eager to find such government ”reinvention” programs it can widely replicate. This case allows, first, for analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Maine 200 effort as an example of gaining compliance through a new form of enforcement, and, second, for discussion of the complications, and advisability, of taking a small program ”to scale.”

    Competition and Costing: Indianapolis, IN – 1995 Innovations Winner

    During his successful 1991 bid for the indianapolis mayoralty, Stephen Goldsmith is clear about his preference for privatizing city services. Once in office, however, Goldsmith decides on a different, more complex approach. The inefficiency of publicly-provided services, he reflects, may not be the result of their being public but rather a reflection of the lack of competition over who will provide them. In that light, Goldsmith undertakes a bold experiment: to force city departments to bid against private providers. This case focuses on the first stages of the Goldsmith experiment, a time in which city public works crews must, for the first time, compete against private firms for a pothole repair contract. The case raises core questions as to how to structure public-private competitions to ensure that valid comparison will be possible, as well as how to determine the exact nature of public costs. In addition, it allows for discussion of more theoretical questions as to whether some functions must always be public, while others should be private and still others privately-provided but publicly-financed.

    Early Warning Program: U.S. Department of the Treasury – 1995 Innovations Winner

    In this case, the federal entity responsible for both safeguarding and insuring the private pension systems of the United States (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation) must deal with one of the nation’s largest and arguably most troubled corporate pension systems – that of the General Motors Corporation. When GM proposes to sell off its Electronic Data Systems subsidiary, regulators at PBGC face a decision. Should they permit the deal to go forward if GM does not address an estimated $20 billion unfunded pension liability? In considering the question, PBGC must decide the extent, and potential justification, for demonstrating regulatory flexibility. Insisting on the letter of the law might scotch a deal which could lead to a significant contribution to GM’s pension liability. Too great a leniency, however – for instance, by allowing the value of GM’s own stock to be applied against pension liability – might jeopardize the interests of thousands of retired auto workers. The case is meant both to raise the issue of public sector negotiations flexibility and to facilitate discussion of the dynamics of public-private negotiations.

    Info/California: California – 1993 Innovations Winner

    The growth of the kind of new interactive technologies promise to make it more convenient and less expensive for government, like private providers of consumer goods and services, to serve its customers – whether they seek a driver’s license or unemployment compensation. Incorporating such technologies implies change, however, and, as this case makes clear, requires decisions about when and how automated transactions should be the norm. The story of the Info/California decision focuses on competing visions of a new, interactive system which promises to allow Californians to obtain records, licenses and program information of all sorts. For its champion within state government, it makes most sense for a scarce number of interactive terminals to be placed in public areas – supermarkets, malls and the like. He must, however, face a demand by a state agency that a terminal be used to make up for laid-off employees in a place where the public has been accustomed to going for records and licenses. Developed for the Kennedy School’s Program on Strategic Computing, this case allows for discussion of the relationship between mission and technology.

    Community Voice Mail: Seattle, WA – 1993 Innovations Winner

    The staff of a Seattle non-profit employment and training agency come to a sudden realization in late 1990: the homeless with whom they deal are handicapped not only by a lack of a permanent residence but their lack of a phone. They lack the means to receive calls, schedule interviews and, ultimately, obtain employment. The insight leads the Seattle Worker Center to seek state and, over time, private funds which permit it to set up a successful “community voice mail“ system, through which the “phoneless“ can store and send messages. The case is designed for students of social policy and allows for examination of those factors which led outside funders and, ultimately, the community at large, to embrace the voice mail idea. Additional description of an attempt to replicate the program in Minnesota portrays a less immediately hospitable situation which a non-profit leader must negotiate.

    Environmental Cleanup Program: Wichita, KS – 1992 Innovations Winner

    Long-undetected groundwater contamination, discovered in 1990, by the Kansas Department of Health and Environmental Protection, has a potentially catastrophic economic impact on downtown Wichita, Kansas. The four-mile long, one-and-a-half-mile wide site centered at the corners of Gilbert and Mosley Streets lies in the heart of Wichita’s central business district. Although it did not provoke health concerns, the newly discovered contamination prompted lenders to cease making any financial commitments in the district. This case focuses on the strategic approach to this crisis taken by Wichita's city manager. Initially faced with two bad alternatives – forcing hundreds of businesses to share in the clean-up cost, or face designation of the area as a federal Superfund site, portending perhaps a decade of legal wrangling – Wichita creates a more palatable way out of the crisis. The case can be useful both for discussions of constituency-building and political strategy, and for discussions of U.S. federalism.

    Washington State Workers’ Compensation: Washington – 1992 Innovations Winner

    Like many such systems, the Washington State Workers’ Compensation Administration was, in the mid 1980s, in deep financial distress. Worse still, its fiscal problems were matched by deep problems of efficiency and morale, particularly in its crucial Claims Administration Unit, which called into question the agency’s ability to put its house in order. Under intense public and political pressure, a new team of administrators buys time through stopgap financial steps, before turning to the daunting task of internal structural reform, focused on the claims unit. The case provides rich detail of both the political and production operation issues which administrators confronted, including its strategy of breaking a claims log-jam by terminating a long-established ”assembly-line” claims process. Adopted in its place is a new structure which encouraged employees to take holistic responsibility for compensation claims and worker rehabilitation. The case raises the complications of worker morale, union relations and political and business pressures with which administrators coped, knowing that the possibility of privatization was a real alternative. They struggled both to put the department on its feet and to demonstrate a raison d’etre for a public system. Ultimately, their efforts were recognized by an Innovations in American Government program award.

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