Case Studies

A Task Force with Teeth? Driving City Performance in Lawrence, Mass.

Abstract:

Jorrit de Jong, Lisa Cox, and Alex Green; June 2017 

 

After taking office, Mayor Daniel Rivera creates a new task force to combat blight in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Although blight was not on Rivera’s campaign agenda, he soon realizes that the issue is worth his attention. The issue of blight and distressed properties is complex and far-reaching, having to do with his city’s public health and safety, inequality, and real estate prices. Although Rivera feels he has little flexibility to change staffing levels on a short-term basis, he endeavors to motivate the team members he has. But creating a task force from entrenched groups poses challenges. Effecting change is slow, and Rivera often feels the task force is not making a dent in the problem. The case describes a data tracker for collecting information on distressed properties from disparate sources, and the tracker includes over 40 input fields.

This case allows participants to understand how such a tool is developed, but pushes them even further to understand how to use data to address pressing problems once the data is collected. An accompanying teaching note includes theory and conceptual frameworks to lead classroom discussion on the case.

 

Design Decisions for Cross-Sector Collaboration: Mini-Case Modules

Citation:

Rivkin, Jan, Susie Ma, and Michael Norris. 2020. “Design Decisions for Cross-Sector Collaboration: Mini-Case Modules”.

Abstract:

Jan Rivkin, Susie Ma, and Michael Norris; June 2020

These five short cases aim to help city leaders explore whether working with sectors outside their own government organizations is the right path forward, and how to be effective if/when they choose to engage in cross-sector collaboration. The cases especially highlight key design decisions that every cross-sector collaboration must make, to help students reflect on design decisions of their own collaborative efforts.

Last updated on 06/30/2020

The “Bilbao Effect” The Collaborative Architecture that Powered Bilbao’s Urban Revival

Abstract:

Fernando Monge, Jorrit de Jong, and Linda Bilmes; June 2020  

In 2018, Bilbao was presented with the Best European City award, adding the prize to a long list the Spanish city had collected since the mid-2000s. The success was often attributed to the Guggenheim museum, giving name to the "Guggenheim effect." This was based on a fairly shallow assessment of the City's transformation. In fact, the building blocks of Bilbao's transformation are to be found in the collaborative efforts established by government entities during the 1990s, in the context of a deep economic, political, and social crisis.

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Last updated on 06/30/2020

1237.1 Reorganizing the Defense Logistics Agency (Sequel)

Abstract:

Move Information, Not Property: U.S. Department of Defense – 1999 Innovations Finalist

This government re-engineering case focuses on the agency responsible for procuring goods and services (other than weapons) for the Department of Defense. New leadership at the DLA must deal with a sharply changed system. Rather than receiving an annual appropriation, the mammoth agency must bill its multitude of customers – the various military services – for performing procurement tasks. In trying to make itself a customer-focused operation, DLA considers changing both the management structure of its headquarters and the relationship between its headquarters and field offices.

996.2 St. Louis County Police Department (TN)

Abstract:

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.

1386.0 Protecting Pension Benefits: PBGC Meets General Motors (B)

Abstract:

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.

719.0 Financing Indonesia's Roads

Abstract:

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. 

1157.0 Wichita Confronts Contamination: Seeking Alternatives to Superfund (Part A)

Abstract:

Environmental Cleanup Program: Wichita, KS – 1992 Innovations Winner

Long-undetected groundwater contamination, discovered in 1990, by the Kansas Department of Health and Environmental Protection, has a potentially catastrophic economic impact on downtown Wichita, Kansas. The four-mile long, one-and-a-half-mile wide site centered at the corners of Gilbert and Mosley Streets lies in the heart of Wichita’s central business district. Although it did not provoke health concerns, the newly discovered contamination prompted lenders to cease making any financial commitments in the district. This case focuses on the strategic approach to this crisis taken by Wichita's city manager. Initially faced with two bad alternatives – forcing hundreds of businesses to share in the clean-up cost, or face designation of the area as a federal Superfund site, portending perhaps a decade of legal wrangling – Wichita creates a more palatable way out of the crisis. The case can be useful both for discussions of constituency-building and political strategy, and for discussions of U.S. federalism.

2025.0 Recovery in Aurora: The Public Schools’ Response to the July 2012 Movie

Abstract:

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.  

Last updated on 01/30/2020

1218.1 Reproducing an Innovation in Tennessee: Dr. Barbara Levin and the Monroe Maternity Center, Inc. (Sequel)

Abstract:

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.

928.0 Building the Baltic

Abstract:

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

When the destruction or conversion of single-room occupancy hotels, or SROs, in San Diego’s downtown seemed to lead to an increase in homelessness, a private real estate developer argued that he could build profitable new SROs if the city would waive or modify key safety and construction standards. In the ensuing debate over the first such SRO, the Baltic Inn, core public housing issues came to the fore: whether regulation was effective and equitable, whether deregulation would serve the poor, and what minimum quality of life society should demand for even the poorest housing consumers. For a different treatment of this issue, see Housing’s Bottom Rung: Single Room Occupancy Hotels in San Diego (C18-95-1293.0 and 1294.0). Housing’s Bottom Rung, the abridged version of Building the Baltic (C16-89-928.0), leaves the dilemma of how best to solve the city’s housing problems to students, rather than describing the route which San Diego actually pursued, as is done in the original case. It describes the decline in single room occupancy hotels for poor single people and early proposals for a preservation ordinance to halt their demolition. The use of the A case first in class, followed by the handout of B, is meant to prompt the realization that careful and imaginative policy analysis can lead in politically unanticipated directions.

1270.0 Mayor Stephen Goldsmith: Organizing Competition in Indianapolis (B)

Abstract:

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.

1904.0 Taking a Therapeutic Approach to Juvenile Offenders: The “Missouri Model”

Abstract:

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.

1036.0 Court Reporting in Kentucky (B)

Abstract:

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.

1530.1 Assertive Policing, Plummeting Crime: The NYPD Takes on crime in New York City (Epilogue)

Abstract:

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.

2010.0 Rebuilding Aceh: Indonesia

Abstract:

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.

1228.0: Community Voice Mail for the “Phoneless”: Starting Up in Seattle and Minnesota

Abstract:

Community Voice Mail: Seattle, WA – 1993 Innovations Winner

The staff of a Seattle non-profit employment and training agency come to a sudden realization in late 1990: the homeless with whom they deal are handicapped not only by a lack of a permanent residence but their lack of a phone. They lack the means to receive calls, schedule interviews and, ultimately, obtain employment. The insight leads the Seattle Worker Center to seek state and, over time, private funds which permit it to set up a successful “community voice mail“ system, through which the “phoneless“ can store and send messages. The case is designed for students of social policy and allows for examination of those factors which led outside funders and, ultimately, the community at large, to embrace the voice mail idea. Additional description of an attempt to replicate the program in Minnesota portrays a less immediately hospitable situation which a non-profit leader must negotiate.

856.1 Finding Black Parents (Epilogue)

Abstract:

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. Director Gregory L. Color, with his deputy gordon Johnson, approached Father George Clements, a black activist Chicago priest in the Baptist community. From those meetings came One Church, One Child, a plan to use pastors of the black churches as spokesmen to reach the community. Coler and Johnson faced several hurdles as they asked a private religious institution to help solve a public agency’s problem. They had to change negative attitudes both in the black community; which had grown to distrust the state agency, and among a staff suspicious of change who would implement the black adoption program. They had to revamp state laws that inhibited the adoption process. And they had to change bureaucratic procedures that had proven ineffective. The accompanying 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. Available in Spanish translation.

1243.0 Mountaineer Habitat for Humanity and the West Virginia Housing Development Fund: The Prospect of Partnership

Abstract:

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.

1066.0 Groundwater Regulation in Arizona

Abstract:

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.

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