Publications

    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.

    Jane Wiseman, February 2017 

    A Chief Data Officer (CDO) can lead a city or state toward greater data-driven government. Data-driven executive leadership in government is relatively new, with just over a dozen cities and a handful of states having named a CDO as of late 2016. Leveraging data enables more responsive and rational allocation of government resources to address priority public needs. There is growing momentum and increasingly frequent news of the next government CDO appointment. While there is a growing proliferation of CDOs in government, there are few resources that describe the landscape, either for the benefit of the chief executive appointing a CDO or the new CDO taking office. This paper intends to help new entrants by documenting selected current practices, including advice shared by existing government CDOs, observations by the author, and analysis from government technology and analytics experts.

    Sara Newland, July 2016 

    Often assumed to be an ethnically homogenous country, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in fact has a substantial minority population with 54 officially recognized ethnic groups that comprise close to 10 percent of the population. Integrating these diverse groups, many of which have a centuries-long history of conflict with the Han Chinese, into a unified Chinese nation-state has been a core policy challenge for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1949.1 At first, these challenges were largely political and ideological. The CCP struggled to integrate minority elites, many of whom did not share a common language or culture with the overwhelmingly Han leaders of the CCP, into the party. They also sought to create political institutions that both respected local cultural practices and combined these diverse regions under a single, unified state, a challenge that the Soviet Union also had to confront.

     

    Incentivized Development in China: Leaders, Governance, and Growth in China's Counties

    David J. Bulman, Cambridge University Press, 2016

    China's economy, as a whole, has developed rapidly over the past 35 years, and yet its richest county is over 100 times richer in per capita terms than its poorest county. To explain this vast variation in development, David J. Bulman investigates the political foundations of local economic growth in China, focusing on the institutional and economic roles of county-level leaders and the career incentives that shape their behaviour. Through a close examination of six counties complemented by unique nation-wide data, he presents and explores two related questions: what is the role of County Party Secretaries in determining local governance and growth outcomes? And why do County Party Secretaries emphasize particular developmental priorities? Suitable for scholars of political economy, development economics, and comparative politics, this original study analyzes the relationship between political institutions, local governance, and leadership roles within Chinese government to explain the growing divergence in economic development between counties.

    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.

    Kyle A. Jaros, April 2016 

    Amid booming urban growth in China, leaders have weighed the goal of building globally competitive metropolises against concerns about sustainable and inclusive development. This brief looks at the experience of similar Chinese provinces that have pursued different spatial development models, highlighting the hard choices policymakers face and the political conflicts that unfold.

    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.

    The City of Boulder and Code for America partnered on “Housing Boulder,” the community engagement process that would inform Boulder’s 2015/2016 Housing Action Plan. While this case study documents our work on a housing-related project, we believe our engagement tactics are relevant to a much broader audience. As a result, this case study also offers a series of recommendations to help governments begin using 21st-century civic engagement strategies that creatively combine in-person and digital channels.
    The City of Boulder and Code for America partnered on “Housing Boulder,” the community engagement process that would inform Boulder’s 2015/2016 Housing Action Plan. While this case study documents our work on a housing-related project, we believe our engagement tactics are relevant to a much broader audience. As a result, this case study also offers a series of recommendations to help governments begin using 21st-century civic engagement strategies that creatively combine in-person and digital channels.
    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. 
    The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance

    Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford, Wiley, 2014

    The Responsive City is a compelling guide to civic engagement and governance in the digital age that will help municipal leaders link important breakthroughs in technology and data analytics with age-old lessons of small-group community input to create more agile, competitive, and economically resilient cities. The book is co-authored by Professor Stephen Goldsmith, director of Data-Smart City Solutions at Harvard Kennedy School, and Professor Susan Crawford, co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

    Gigi Georges, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Andrea McGrath, June 2013. 

    This paper is the third in a miniseries that explores emerging strategies to strengthen the civic, institutional, and political building blocks that are critical to developing novel solutions to public problems — what the authors call the “innovation landscape.” The miniseries builds on past research addressing social innovation and on The Power of Social Innovation (2010) by HKS Professor Stephen Goldsmith.

    In this paper the authors focus on implementation of their framework’s strategies, primarily through the introduction of a unique assessment tool that includes key objectives and suggested indicators for each component of the framework. This final paper also includes a brief case study on New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity, an award-winning government innovation team, to demonstrate and test the validity of the assessment tool and framework. The paper addresses some likely challenges to implementation and concludes with an invitation to readers to help further refine the framework and to launch a conversation among cities that will help improve their local landscapes for innovation.

    Gigi Georges, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Andrea McGrath, June 2013 

    This paper is the first in a miniseries that explores emerging strategies to strengthen the civic, institutional, and political building blocks that are critical to developing novel solutions to public problems — what the authors call the “innovation landscape.” The miniseries builds on past research addressing social innovation and on The Power of Social Innovation (2010) by HKS Professor Stephen Goldsmith.

    In this first paper, the authors introduce readers to the nature of the work by highlighting current efforts to drive innovation in Boston, Denver, and New York City. They also orient the miniseries within the robust discourse on government innovation.

    Gigi Georges, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Andrea McGrath, June 2013 

    This paper is the second in a miniseries that explores emerging strategies to strengthen the civic, institutional, and political building blocks that are critical to developing novel solutions to public problems — what the authors call the “innovation landscape.” The miniseries builds on past research addressing social innovation and on The Power of Social Innovation (2010) by HKS Professor Stephen Goldsmith.

    In this second paper, the authors introduce a framework for driving local innovation, which includes a set of strategies and practices developed from the Ash Center’s recent work on social innovation, new first-person accounts, in-depth interviews, practitioner surveys, and relevant literature. The authors explore the roots and composition of the core strategies within their framework and provide evidence of its relevance and utility.

    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.

    In late 2006, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO). Born out of recommendations made by the Bloomberg appointed public-private Commission for Economic Opportunity, CEO was designed to be an innovations lab that would test anti-poverty programs by applying a results-based approach. With a budget of $100 million, CEO would closely monitor new programs and hold them accountable for producing measurable results. Uniquely, CEO would cut funding for programs that did not “make the grade.” Bloomberg named Veronica White the Executive Director of CEO. White had decades of experience working in executive positions in several New York City agencies but with CEO she had daunting tasks ahead. She would have to redefine how poverty was measured in the city, facilitate cross agency partnerships, and, most important, develop an effective and achievable evaluation system for all programs. This case traces the CEO team’s challenges in placing program evaluation at the core of their mission. 

    Chinese Village, Global Market: New Collectives and Rural Development

    Biliang Hu and Tony Saich, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012 

    This book is a story of one village, Yantian, and its remarkable economic and social transformation. The village sits in the Pearl River Delta, the engine of China's emergence as the hub of global manufacturing and production. The village's success relied on the creation of new economic collectives, its ability to leverage networks, and its proximity to Hong Kong to transform forever the formerly sleepy rural area. The result of almost 20 years of field work by the authors, Chinese Village, Global Market shows how outcomes are shaped by a number of factors such as path dependence, social structures, economic resources and local entrepreneurship.

    Goldsmith, Stephen, Chris Pineda, and William B. Eimicke. 2005. “How City Hall Can Invigorate the Faith Community Around a Citywide Agenda”. Read the full report Abstract

    Stephen Goldsmith, Chris Pineda, William B. Eimicke, 2005 

    This paper examines how city governments can collaborate with faith-based organizations, and invigorate these partners, around a citywide housing agenda. Specifically, the paper explores: (1) why city hall/FBO collaborations are important; (2) what FBOs bring to housing efforts; (3) how cities can more effectively collaborate with FBOs; (4) lessons on collaboration from the various 'Unlocking Doors' cities; and, (5) a case study on city hall/FBO collaboration in the city of Nashville. The goal of this paper is to fill the gap of practical knowledge on collaborations with the faith community by presenting a framework to help city halls more intentionally leverage successful partnerships, based on lessons learned from other local cases.

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