North America

New Jersey state capitol building

What’s the Value of Being a State Capital?

February 10, 2021

Cambridge, MA -- In a new study released today by Harvard Kennedy School, Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, and a team of researchers published a detailed examination of the costs and benefits that accrue to capital cities that come from hosting state government. Specifically, the study, launched at the request of Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, examined the unique costs incurred by the City of Trenton and the overall economic value...

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Professor Stephen Goldsmith

Reforming the Curb: Using Technology to Create a More Equitable Streetscape

November 23, 2020

When Stephen Goldsmith, the Derek Bok Professor of Urban Policy and Director of the Ash Center’s Government Innovations Program, served as mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana, “I thought I was the mayor of parking. I don’t think anything mattered except parking in downtown Indianapolis.” Since Goldsmith last held the reins at city hall, the debate over how cities should best put to use curb space and sidewalks has only grown more intense as online delivery companies, ride sharing services, and commercial businesses all vie for...

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Getting Value from Workforce Stimulus Investments: What Works in Youth Workforce Programs and How to Grow the Evidence Base

Jane Wiseman, November 2020 

The current economic crisis will likely inspire federal investment in training for unemployed and underemployed Americans. When funds are made available for youth workforce development, transparent reporting and publication of results data should be required. User-friendly reports should be created that enable unemployed and underemployed Americans to see which training providers achieve the best results, much as the current College Scorecard helps youth and their families evaluate colleges. This will benefit program recipients, the taxpayer, and society at large. Evidence about what works for youth workforce development is still in an early stage of maturity, so upcoming investments present an opportunity to advance the state of knowledge. With this data and insight, future investments can continue to fund effective programs and ineffective ones can be discontinued.

The 2020 Election Season and Aftermath: Preparation in Higher Education Communities
Leonard, Herman B. "Dutch", Arnold M. Howitt, and Judith B. McLaughlin. 2020. “The 2020 Election Season and Aftermath: Preparation in Higher Education Communities”. Read the full report Abstract

Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard, Arnold M. Howitt, and Judith B. McLaughlin; October 2020 

There is widespread uncertainty and heightened anxiety on higher education campuses and elsewhere about what might happen during the 2020 election season in the United States. At every turn, we see elevated emotions and anxieties generated by the election process and related events, together with the potential for disruption of various kinds in the election process itself – before, during, and/or after the end of voting on November 3. This is compounded by the possibility of uncertainty, perhaps over many days or even weeks, about who has won various contests and about who will take office.

A wide range of scenarios related to the election process and possible election outcomes have been described in mainstream media, in social media, and in other forums. Given the considerable (and, generally speaking, desirable) involvement and energy invested in these events within higher education communities among faculty, staff, students, and alumni, a number of these scenarios might well result in situations on campuses, in higher education communities, or in the surrounding communities where they reside that would call for institutional response. Many campus leaders and management groups are now thinking through what might be necessary or desirable and figuring out what they might usefully do in advance to prepare to provide the best response possible. Obviously, the difficulties of planning for the many possible circumstances that might confront us are compounded by the fact that all of this is taking place during an ongoing (and, indeed, now intensifying) pandemic accompanied by calls for racial justice and police reform. In this brief note, we suggest some ideas that might be helpful for higher education communities organizing themselves in the face of these uncertainties.

Moving Municipal Tech Out of the Typewriter Era

Boston likes to fashion itself as a global tech hub, proud of the legions of start-ups and tech workers who have made its economy the envy of cities around the country. Yet vestiges of Boston’s analog past can still be found, if you know where to look—such as in the long, brick-fronted building that sprawls over much of a block along Massachusetts Avenue in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood. From the building, which houses...

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A Win for Democracy

Demarquin Johnson HLS/HKS 2020 stepped up to a podium for the first time as a freshman in high school in Missouri City, Texas, as a member of his school’s debate team. After several weeks spent doing research, he was prepared to defend the right to vote for citizens convicted of a felony. Fueled by a deep belief that felony disenfranchisementis unjust and a legacy of Jim Crow-era attempts to strip voting rights from Black people, he hammered home how prohibiting people from voting because they were formerly...

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Crisis Leadership Essentials for Mayors

Ash: Given your work with mayors throughout the U.S. and around the world, how would you assess the performance of mayors and other city leaders during the pandemic?  

De Jong: Mayors have been on the frontline of the pandemic, the economic fallout and the civil unrest over racial justice. Under normal circumstances, mayors have a tough job, as they are closest to the people and are...

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Valerie Jarrett on the value of a vote and reaching Gen-Z

Following the 2016 presidential election, senior advisor to then President Barack Obama Valerie Jarret and First Lady Michelle Obama poured over election return data. “Michelle Obama and I did a lot of soul searching trying to figure out what happened,” said Jarrett during a virtual discussion moderated by Harvard Law School Lester Kissel Professor of Law David Wilkins, hosted by Harvard Votes Challenge, the Ash Center for...

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The view of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park, California, United States

For a moment, partisanship takes a backseat to conservation in the nation’s capital

July 28, 2020

As election season descends across the country and the political rhetoric emanating out of Washington only becomes more bitter, something rare happened last week on Capitol Hill—large bipartisan majorities passed one of the most far-reaching pieces of conservation legislation in a generation. The bill, known as the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) will pump billions of dollars into overdue repairs and maintenance of the country’s national parks and permanently fund a slew of other federal conservation programs. President Trump tweeted his support ahead of its passage before the House and is expected to sign the bill later this month.