Publications

    Stephen Goldsmith, January 2017  

    This report discusses how the private sector should be deployed to help deliver and maintain the United State's crucial water infrastructure in a timelier and more cost-effective manner. To achieve this end, it is imperative to remove deep-seated obstacles and biases at the federal level that impede the use of private financing modalities, such as P3s. As discussed in this report, policies and legislative barriers need to be thoughtfully modernized and amended in order to enable the Nation to transfer risk, accelerate delivery, and secure life-cycle efficiency in the delivery of critical water resource infrastructure. 

    Democracy Reinvented: Participatory Budgeting and Civic Innovation in America

    Hollie Russon Gilman, Brookings, 2016 

    Democracy Reinvented is the first comprehensive academic treatment of participatory budgeting in the United States, situating it within a broader trend of civic technology and innovation. This global phenomenon, which has been called “revolutionary civics in action” by the New York Times, started in Brazil in 1989 but came to America only in 2009.  Participatory budgeting empowers citizens to identify community needs, work with elected officials to craft budget proposals, and vote on how to spend public funds.

    John Gastil, June 2016 

    In this paper, John Gastil calls for designers, reformers, and government sponsors to join together to build an integrated online commons, which links together the best existing tools by making them components in a larger “Democracy Machine.” Gastil sketches out design principles and features that would enable this platform to draw new people into the civic sphere, encourage more sustained and deliberative engagement, and send ongoing feedback to both government and citizens to improve how the public interfaces with the public sector.

    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.
    This epilogue accompanies case number 2055.0. In September 2014, as several West African countries continued to battle a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus, Dallas, Texas, emerged as ground zero for the disease in the U.S. This case recounts how, over the course of three days, Thomas Eric Duncan, who had recently arrived in the city from Liberia, reported twice to Dallas Presbyterian Hospital exhibiting signs of illness. Having sent him home after his first visit, the hospital admitted him after his second; and with his symptoms worsening rapidly, tests soon revealed everyone’s worst fear: he had Ebola. “Fears and Realities” describes how local, state, and federal public health authorities, along with elected officials and hospital administrators, responded to the alarming news – a hugely difficult task made all the more challenging by confusion over Duncan’s background and travel history, and, eventually, by the intense focus and considerable concern on the part of the media and public at large. Efforts to curtail the spread of the disease were further complicated when two nurses who had cared for Duncan also tested positive for Ebola, even though they apparently had followed CDC protocols when interacting with him. With three confirmed cases of the disease in Dallas – each patient with their own network of contacts – authorities scrambled to understand what was happening and to figure out a way to bring the crisis to an end before more people were exposed to the highly virulent disease.
    In September 2014, as several West African countries continued to battle a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus, Dallas, Texas, emerged as ground zero for the disease in the U.S. This case recounts how, over the course of three days, Thomas Eric Duncan, who had recently arrived in the city from Liberia, reported twice to Dallas Presbyterian Hospital exhibiting signs of illness. Having sent him home after his first visit, the hospital admitted him after his second; and with his symptoms worsening rapidly, tests soon revealed everyone’s worst fear: he had Ebola. “Fears and Realities” describes how local, state, and federal public health authorities, along with elected officials and hospital administrators, responded to the alarming news – a hugely difficult task made all the more challenging by confusion over Duncan’s background and travel history, and, eventually, by the intense focus and considerable concern on the part of the media and public at large. Efforts to curtail the spread of the disease were further complicated when two nurses who had cared for Duncan also tested positive for Ebola, even though they apparently had followed CDC protocols when interacting with him. With three confirmed cases of the disease in Dallas – each patient with their own network of contacts – authorities scrambled to understand what was happening and to figure out a way to bring the crisis to an end before more people were exposed to the highly virulent disease.
    “Ready in Advance” prompts students to consider what pre-event preparedness measures allowed officials in Tuscaloosa, AL to respond to a major tornado in 2011. Among other things, it illustrates the usefulness of group training initiatives, dedicated political leadership, and organizational frameworks that enable coordination across functions and sectors. The case demonstrates how taking advance action can lead to effective in-the-moment response, ultimately minimizing disaster risk and damage.

    Hollie Russon Gilman, January 2016 

    This paper provides a brief overview of the genesis of participatory budgeting and its current incarnations in the United States. It situates the participatory budgeting process within a larger context of civic innovation strategies occurring across America. The paper outlines the institutional challenges and proposes assessment criteria to be considered when implementing civic and social innovations such as participatory budgeting.

    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. 
    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.

    Economics of the Public Sector
    Stiglitz, Joseph E, and Jay Rosengard. 2015. Economics of the Public Sector. W.W. Norton & Company. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract
    What should be the role of government in society? How should it design its programs? How should tax systems be designed to promote both efficiency and fairness? Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and new co-author Jay Rosengard use their first-hand policy-advising experience to address these key issues of public-sector economics in this modern and accessible Fourth Edition.
     

    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.

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