Publications

    Competition and Costing: Indianapolis, IN – 1995 Innovations Winner

    When the city of Indianapolis adopts a policy leading to head-to-head competition for contracts between public and private sector bidders, public departments such as the city’s motor vehicle maintenance facility find themselves in a brave new world. This case examines the point-by-point construction of the Indiana policy Fleet Services bid for the right to perform both routine and non-routine maintenance on the city’s motor vehicles and equipment, ranging from police cars to garbage trucks. It is designed to familiarize students with the process of understanding a public sector Request for Proposals (RFP) and developing a bid in response. It calls on students to understand the city's budget, its contractual relationship with organized labor, the potential use of employee merit pay and the variety of incentives, both for good or ill, that can arise by virtue of the way a contract is drafted. Thus the case is useful both for those interested in the public-private bidding process and for those interested in the drafting of public contracts.

    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.

    CityWork: Louisville KY – 1995 Innovations Winner

    This is a public sector total quality management (TQM) case. Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Jerry Abramson, early in his second term, finds himself dissatisfied with what is ostensibly a significant string of accomplishments – among them economic development, housing and urban beautification projects. He finds himself wanting to do more than cut ribbons on new initiatives, though, and seeks, in addition, to change the way the ongoing, core departments of city government serve the public. In an effort to bring a customer orientation to such agencies as Louisville’s public works department, Abramson recruits a major local private employer – General Electric – to design a training program to bring its ”total quality” approach to the public sector. The case tells the story of the origins and effects of the GE/Louisville partnership.

    Wraparound Milwaukee: Milwaukee County, WI – 2009 Innovations Winner

    This video is a companion piece to the “Bringing Kids Home: The Wraparound Milwaukee Model“ case study (case number 1927.0). 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 is 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.

    Info/California: California – 1993 Innovations Winner

    New, computer-based technologies offer the prospect of new ways for government to provide services for citizens. That was the hope of the director of the data center of California’s Health and Welfare Agency when, in 1991, he developed a new interactive ”kiosk” that would allow citizens to transact business with the state government without going to a government office. Licenses, permits and answers to questions could be obtained through a service which director Russell Bohart believed should ”go where the people are, as opposed to making everybody come to government.” In introducing the new system, however, Bohart found himself under pressure from state agencies which wanted to interactive technology to be located not at shopping malls and strip centers but in their own offices, as a means of replacing or supplementing employees. Bohart would have to decide which vision of his interactive kiosk was the right one and, if he stuck to his original concept, how to cope with the demands in conflict with it.

    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.

    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.

    Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network: Philadelphia, PA – 1991 Innovations Winner

    When Wilson Goode becomes the first African-American mayor of Philadelphia, he must find ways to fulfill a particularly visible campaign pledge: elimination of the graffiti which mar public buildings throughout poorer sections of the city and particularly in the North Philadelphia black wards crucial to Goode’s victory. This tells the story of a series of quite different compliance strategies pursued by a new city agency specifically created to curtail graffiti and housed within the mayor’s office. The anti-graffiti effort first conceives the problem in social terms and initiates a series of efforts to deal with the ”roots” of the graffiti problem, specifically the alienation and joblessness which may affect graffiti writers. Public pressure builds, however, for the city to adopt a more aggressive enforcement posture, viewing graffiti as a criminal act which must be swiftly punished. The case allows for discussion of the nature of public compliance and how it is achieved.

    The Blackstone Project: Preventing Pollution Before it Happens – 1991 Innovations Winner

    This case examines the origins and follows the implementation of a radical restructuring of the way the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection conducts inspections of industrial facilities. Specifically, it tells the story of a pilot program designed both to change the way in which inspections were carried out and the purpose of inspections. The Blackstone Project moved to replace inspections conducted by technical specialists in specific areas – air, water, hazardous waste – with ”cross-media” inspections, in which one inspector would consider an industrial operation as a whole. The project represented a radical departure for a department in which technical specialists had their own culture and history. At the same time, it represented an attempt to replace traditional law enforcement with pollution prevention – single inspectors acting as much as advisors for firms as law enforcers. This meaty case allows for analysis of the ways in which an organization's internal structure relates to its overall mission.

    The Blackstone Project: Preventing Pollution Before it Happens – 1991 Innovations Winner

    This case examines the origins and follows the implementation of a radical restructuring of the way the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection conducts inspections of industrial facilities. Specifically, it tells the story of a pilot program designed both to change the way in which inspections were carried out and the purpose of inspections. The Blackstone Project moved to replace inspections conducted by technical specialists in specific areas – air, water, hazardous waste – with ”cross-media” inspections, in which one inspector would consider an industrial operation as a whole. The project represented a radical departure for a department in which technical specialists had their own culture and history. At the same time, it represented an attempt to replace traditional law enforcement with pollution prevention – single inspectors acting as much as advisors for firms as law enforcers. This meaty case allows for analysis of the ways in which an organization's internal structure relates to its overall mission.

    CityWork: Louisville KY – 1995 Innovations Winner

    This is a public sector total quality management (TQM) case. Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Jerry Abramson, early in his second term, finds himself dissatisfied with what is ostensibly a significant string of accomplishments – among them economic development, housing and urban beautification projects. He finds himself wanting to do more than cut ribbons on new initiatives, though, and seeks, in addition, to change the way the ongoing, core departments of city government serve the public. In an effort to bring a customer orientation to such agencies as Louisville’s public works department, Abramson recruits a major local private employer – General Electric – to design a training program to bring its ”total quality” approach to the public sector. The case tells the story of the origins and effects of the GE/Louisville partnership.

    Electronic Benefit System: Ramsey County, MN – 1990 Innovations Winner

    When banks in Ramsey County (Saint Paul), Minnesota decide to stop cashing welfare checks, the county faces a crisis. It must continue to provide a way for welfare recipients to receive their benefits. Yet it has exhausted the standard means of doing so. This Innovations in State and Local Government case follows the course of Ramsey County’s decision to adopt a radically different benefits delivery system – the use of an ATM (automatic teller machine) card which will allow welfare recipients to draw down their account at a variety of locations, at their own convenience. Officials in the Community Human Services Department gain acceptance of this idea, however, not because of its innovative quality but because they convince county officials it will provide the service at no increase in cost. This case provides a vehicle for discussion of the nature of public sector innovation and the forces that drive or constrain it. It raises the following question, as well: At a time when information technologies are making everything from mail orders to credit card replacement “user friendly,“ will government find ways to adapt these technologies to aid in delivering its services?

    Seattle Recycling Program: Seattle, WA – 1990 Innovations Winner

    When the Seattle Solid Waste Utility, the department responsible for trash pick-up and disposal, moved during 1988-90 to introduce curbside recycling and other dramatic changes in garbage collection, director Diana Gale believed presentation of the utility's plans to the press would be crucial to their prospects for public acceptance. This case recounts the elaborate but successful strategies Gale employed, ranging from training sessions for utility employees run by former television news anchors, to the advent of the utility's own weekly newsletter to track problems and changes in the new garbage program. The case is designed both to allow for discussion of what makes for effective or ineffective relations between the public manager and the press, and to raise questions about the relative motivations of each party. In addition, the case can be used to pose the question of what methods are appropriate for a public agency to use in presenting its program initiatives to the public – and whether it is a necessary or proper use of funds when public agencies employ public relations and advertising tactics.

    Xport, The Port Authority Trading Company: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – 1990 Innovations Winner

    This case takes its place in the ongoing debate over privatization: which functions are best performed by the public sector, which should be reserved to private enterprise? In this instance, a newly-appointed executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must decide whether or not to continue a fledgling ”public sector trading company” – a program designed to nurture small business exports by identifying overseas customers and acting as middleman in the transaction – all for a fee. Early sales figures are disappointing; organized private opposition has surfaced in the state legislature. But a strong-willed program director is convinced that small exporters are not served by private trading firms and that increasing the volume of small exports will help keep the Port Authority’s facilities busy.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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