Publications

    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.

    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. See also Part B (1386.0).

    The December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami caused tremendous damage and suffering on several continents, with Indonesia’s Aceh Province (located on the far northern tip of Sumatra Island) experiencing the very worst. In the tsunami’s wake – and with offers of billions of dollars of aid coming from all corners of the globe – the Indonesian government faced the daunting task of implementing a massive recovery effort that could meet the expectations of donors and survivors alike. With this in mind, Indonesia’s president established in April 2005 a national-level, ad hoc agency – known by its acronym, BRR – to coordinate reconstruction activities across the province. This case examines some of the core challenges BRR’s leaders encountered as they moved to set up the agency and then proceeded to coordinate and execute a recovery process involving hundreds of domestic and international partner organizations and thousands of independent reconstruction projects.

    Groundwater Management Code: Arizona – 1986 Innovations Winner

    Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, increasing demands for water threatened to lead to a crisis in Arizona. The growth of the desert state’s cities posed a conflict with its agricultural and mining interests. Its main source of water – groundwater extracted from beneath the arid surface – was threatened with depletion. This case frames the challenge faced by Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt to resolve the conflict in a way satisfactory to all three of the major interests: cities, farmers and mineowners. The case details the history of the Arizona groundwater dispute and the situation faced by Babbitt as he prepares to try to mediate it. The case invites discussion of mediation/negotiation techniques which can be employed by an elected official. In addition, it can be used as a policy exercise calling for proposals to develop an Arizona water policy that both serves and satisfies all players.

    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.

    In the fall of 1986, the World Bank offered the government of Indonesia a loan of approximately US $200-250 million for highway construction in the capital city of Jakarta and the country's other four largest urban centers. It was an attractive proposal: plummeting world oil prices had squeezed the national treasury, which had derived about 60 percent of its revenues from Indonesian oil profits. But for much the same reason, Indonesia's Ministry of Finance felt compelled to find new revenue sources to repay the loan. 

    CityWork: Louisville, KY – 1995 Innovations Winner

    The belief of Louisville, Kentucky, Mayor Jerry Abramson in improved service to citizen ”customers” leads to the 1989 establishment of a centralized complaint/information system – a single phone number to which complaints or inquiries about any of the city’s 25 departments can be made. But despite apparent success and a high public profile, managers of the ”CityCALL” system become frustrated with what they view as inefficiencies in their relationships with other city agencies. Some are linked to CityCALL by computer; others show little apparent inclination to cooperate. The case calls for consideration of how CityCALL could be improved through the vehicle of Louisville's ”CityWork” system, in which public employees, in a retreat-style setting, are called upon to offer specific suggestions for change. The case explores the evolution of an innovative program – its unexpected side effects and the sorts of resistance it encounters. It highlights, as well, Mayor Abramson’s contention that a system of cooperative program evaluation – CityWork – can lead to efficiencies which rival public/private competitive bidding and other ”privatization”-style strategies.

    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.

    Monroe Maternity Center, Inc.: Monroe County, TN – 1991 Innovations Winner

    The combination of East Tennessee poverty and a lack of obstetrical facilities in Monroe County lead a U.S. public health officer, Dr. Barbara Levin, to seek different ways to provide prenatal and delivery services to women of the county. This case tells the story of the slow but successful effort to use nurses and midwives to staff a free-standing ”maternity center” which ultimately led to the maternity center delivering fully a quarter of all the county’s babies. It examines the strategies which Levin employed to build local support, overcome opposition in the medical profession and build a customer base. In addition, it frames a strategic question of whether and how Levin should attempt to transplant her idea to a far different region of the state.

    Throughout August 2010, flooding continued to spread across Pakistan, eventually overtaking large portions of the southern part of the country. With Case A providing background and recounting early response efforts, Case B explores how the crisis worsened and the response intensified throughout the second half of August, highlighting actions taken at the federal level, as well as by the United States and other foreign governments. It also explores efforts by the United Nations, on behalf of the international humanitarian community, to support flood relief.

    Project Match: Illinois – 1988 Innovations Winner

    Located in one of the most troubled housing projects in Chicago, the job training program known as Project Match has an unusual approach to the task of bringing welfare recipients into the world of work. Rather than trying to broker a simple job placement, the program tries to encourage long-term change in the habits and living style of its hard-to-place population, in part by creating a social atmosphere in which work and ambition are valued. But because it receives funds from the Illinois Department of Public Aid, Project Match finds itself under pressure to produce job-placement results which demonstrate its success. The program itself urges authorities to find ways to quantify success besides simply finding someone a job – and places a premium on keeping track of those it’s trying to help, long after a first job placement. The case highlights the challenges of social service program evaluation, as well as the problems an innovative agency has explaining itself to traditional bureaucracies with which it must deal.

    CompStat: New York, NY – 1996 Innovations Winner

    The dramatic reduction in crime in New York City during the 1990s grabbed the attention of the U.S. and the world, seeming to provide evidence that new policy and management approaches could make an enormous difference for the better. This case tells the story of key management decisions that the New York Police Department itself credits with the successful attack on the city's crime rate. Specifically, it describes the approach of Police Chief William Bratton in assembling a core, reform-oriented management team and the development of a computerized crime tracking system used as the foundation for the targeting of police manpower. The epilogue raises the dramatic question of whether the goal of minimizing the misuse of force by police officers is also amenable to the measurement techniques successfully employed to the activity of criminals. This case, in addition to the questions it raises, provides a powerful telling of one of the most successful public sector management initiatives of recent times.

    The case prompts students to consider what community recovery entails, especially vis-à-vis mental health issues and resiliency; the role of different institutions therein; and how to accommodate a range of public views on these topics. It also explores broader issues in local government, most notably coordination within and across agencies as well as between the public and private sectors.  

    Division of Youth Services: Missouri – 2008 Innovations Winner

    This 10-minute video is a companion to ”Taking a Therapeutic Approach to Juvenile Offenders: The ‘Missouri Model,’” Kennedy School case number C16-09-1904.0. In it, Tim Decker, the director of the Missouri Division of Youth Services, lays out the philosophy and practice of the therapeutic process used by the department in its treatment of youth offenders. The video shows the young people as they explore the roots of their behavior and develop tools to process trauma, often by articulating and sharing their feelings and concerns in a group setting. The ultimate goal of the program, Decker explains, is to encourage internalized change and foster social competencies. Powerful testimony from some of the youth sheds light on the main challenges they experience as they struggle to rebuild their lives.

    Division of Youth Services: Missouri – 2008 Innovations Winner

    In the early 1970s, the Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS) took its first steps toward radically changing the way it dealt with youthful offenders remanded to its custody. For years, like most states, it had incarcerated juveniles convicted of felony or misdemeanor offenses in large quasi-penal facilities called “training schools.” Instead, DYS began establishing smaller “cottage-style” residential programs that emphasized rehabilitation over punishment and applied a therapeutic approach to its troubled young charges. Over the next three decades, DYS expanded this approach to encompass its entire juvenile offender population. By the mid-2000s, the “Missouri model,” as it became known, was perhaps the most admired – and, many considered, most effective – juvenile corrections system in the U.S.

    This case describes the Missouri model – including the population it serves, the educational and therapeutic programs it offers, and the frontline staff of “youth specialists” it employs to work closely with young offenders. The case also provides an overview of Missouri’s impressively low recidivism figures and a brief discussion of the complexities of comparing such figures among states. It concludes with a discussion of the challenges the Missouri DYS has faced in sustaining its highly regarded, but demanding, approach over many years. The case can be used in classes on child welfare policy and criminal justice.

    One Church/One Child Minority Adoption Campaign: Illinois – 1986 Innovations Winner

    In 1980, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services faced a crisis. Over 700 black children in cook County, including 69 infants, waited for adoption while the agency was unable to find black parents. A supplement to the case (856.0), this video exhibit brings to life the successful strategy of the One Church, One Child program, focusing on a presentation in a black church designed to encourage adoptions. In addition, the video includes retrospective comments from the program's administrators and vignettes of families who have adopted children as a result of the program. This case will challenge students to examine the assumptions that limit bureaucracies.

    Case Management for At-Risk Children in Detention: New York, NY – 1986 Innovations Winner

    The latest in a long string of directors of New York City’s toughest juvenile detention facility confronts a staff which is both demoralized and resentful of authority. As the jail’s first black director, she must cope with a predominantly black staff long accustomed to ”getting over” – giving less than full effort and rationalizing its attitude in terms of the perceived indifference of a ”downtown” white power structure. Battles over child abuse, insubordination and union power ensue.

    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.

Pages