Publications

    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.

    Single Room Occupancy Residential Hotel Program: San Diego, CA – 1988 Innovations Winner

    When an idea for which she’s had responsibility wins a major national award, a San Diego planner must, under the terms of the award, take responsibility for alerting other jurisdictions to the merits of the idea: new, privately funded single room occupancy “hotels“ for the working poor. At first, Judy Lenthall plans a conference to which she intends to invite interested planners from other cities. When the mayor of San Diego disapproves, Lenthall must figure out a variety of strategies that will actually spread the word and lead to “replication.“

    Single Room Occupancy Residential Hotel Program: San Diego, CA – 1988 Innovations Winner

    When an idea for which she’s had responsibility wins a major national award, a San Diego planner must, under the terms of the award, take responsibility for alerting other jurisdictions to the merits of the idea: new, privately funded single room occupancy “hotels“ for the working poor. At first, Judy Lenthall plans a conference to which she intends to invite interested planners from other cities. When the mayor of San Diego disapproves, Lenthall must figure out a variety of strategies that will actually spread the word and lead to “replication.“

    Computer Assisted Report Entry: St. Louis, MO – 1988 Innovations Winner

    This case examines a specific technological innovation and tracks its effect on the procedures of an organization. The Computer Assisted Report Entry (CARE) system adopted by the St. Louis County Police Department is designed to replace what is viewed as a cumbersome, if vital, procedure: the filing of written reports by individual police officers involved in responses to calls and in arrests. CARE replaces what the department believes to be an inefficient system of written reports with a system of telephone reporting. Although viewed positively in the text, the case also invites scrutiny of the long-term, perhaps unforeseen, consequences of such a technological change.

    Family Learning Center: Ingham County, MI – 1988 Innovations Winner

    During the 1978-79 school year, the state of Michigan turned down Jean Ekins’ application for model-site designation of her Leslie, Michigan Family Learning Center. Ekins had started the program four years earlier within the Leslie public school system to provide an appropriate high school setting for teen-aged parents. Designation carried a $60,000 grant, about twice the center’s current annual budget. Ekins believed the money as well as the designation would have lent legitimacy to the center’s existence, which the conservative community of Leslie frequently questioned on practical and moral grounds. At the time of Ekins’ application, the center provided services to about 20 students, but many more young parents were on the waiting list, denied services because of a lack of funds. It had become clear to Ekins that, without more money, the center would remain a small, relatively ineffective weapon in the fight to provide educational services to Leslie-area school-aged parents. The case describes Ekins’ efforts to establish the program and focuses on the issues confronting the administrator of a small, financially strapped program on the frontiers of service delivery. The case also addresses the question of how best to expand a successful but limited program: how to gauge degrees of support and opposition; how to balance demands for resources; and where and how to look for potential allies.

    Family Learning Center: Ingham County, MI – 1988 Innovations Winner

    During the 1978-79 school year, the state of Michigan turned down Jean Ekins’ application for model-site designation of her Leslie, Michigan Family Learning Center. Ekins had started the program four years earlier within the Leslie public school system to provide an appropriate high school setting for teen-aged parents. Designation carried a $60,000 grant, about twice the center’s current annual budget. Ekins believed the money as well as the designation would have lent legitimacy to the center's existence, which the conservative community of Leslie frequently questioned on practical and moral grounds. At the time of Ekins’ application, the center provided services to about 20 students, but many more young parents were on the waiting list, denied services because of a lack of funds. It had become clear to Ekins that, without more money, the center would remain a small, relatively ineffective weapon in the fight to provide educational services to Leslie-area school-aged parents. The case describes Ekins’ efforts to establish the program and focuses on the issues confronting the administrator of a small, financially strapped program on the frontiers of service delivery. The case also addresses the question of how best to expand a successful but limited program: how to gauge degrees of support and opposition; how to balance demands for resources; and where and how to look for potential allies.

    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.

    Wetland Wastewater Treatment: Arcata, CA – 1987 Innovations Winner

    In 1974, the small city of Arcata, California, learned that a new state policy would soon forbid the release of its treated wastewater into Humboldt Bay unless it could prove that the wastewater “enhanced“ the bay. That same year the Humboldt Bay Wastewater Authority was formed to devise a federal- and state-funded regional approach to wastewater disposal. By 1976, Arcata realized it had a serious problem on its hands: if the city hooked up to the proposed HBWA treatment plant, sewer bills would double in the near future and would probably continue to climb. Moreover, the huge sewage pipes mapped to run between Arcata and Eureka and under the bay’s shipping channels could allow unwanted strip development of the rural area between the cities and might even lead to an ecological disaster. But if Arcata decided to go its own way, it would be subject to a building moratorium and other penalties unless it could overcome the undefined “enhancement“ requirement. The case tells the story of Arcata's long political struggle to derail the planned regional sewage treatment plant and force federal and state regulators to accept its own, unconventional local alternative. It raises questions as to how to recognize innovation and the nature of bureaucratic cultures which discourage innovation. It also raises the question of whether community based opposition might be too heavily weighted in the political process.

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