Harvard’s Stephen Goldsmith and NYU’s Neil Kleiman Launch New Vision for Remaking City Government

January 11, 2018
New City O/S Cover
New book is critical reading for any student of government or practitioner.

Cambridge, MA. The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School and Brookings Institution Press are pleased to announce the publication of Harvard Kennedy School Professor Stephen Goldsmith and New York University Professor Neil Kleiman’s new book:

A New City O/S: The Power of Open, Collaborative, and Distributed Governance

Written to counter the current environment when trust in American government remains near historic lows, Goldsmith and Kleiman’s book presents a new vision for organizing local government to be the most effective and responsive force in the lives of its citizens. The authors explain how city government has evolved from the corruption and backroom dealings of Tammany Hall-style politics a century ago to the reforms of the Progressive Era to today’s modern municipal bureaucracy. Based on decades of direct experience and years studying successful models around the world, the authors suggest building on the giant leaps that have been made in technology, social engagement, and big data to create a new operating system (O/S) for cities.

Through this distributed governance approach, Goldsmith and Kleimans model allows public officials to mobilize new resources, surface ideas from unconventional sources, and arm city employees with the information they need to become preemptive problem-solvers. This book highlights lessons from case studies of innovations taking place in todays cities to demonstrate how a new O/S can create systemic transformation.

This book is critical reading for any student of government and for practitioners including public-sector executives, managers, and frontline workers. In A New City O/S, Goldsmith and Kleiman have created a step-by-step guide for all those who would put the needs of citizens front and center, arming public officials with solutions that will work to restore trust in government.

Stephen Goldsmith is the Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard Kennedy School. He currently directs Data-Smart City Solutions, a project to highlight local government efforts to use new technologies that connect breakthroughs in the use of big data analytics with community input to reshape the relationship between government and citizen. He previously served as deputy mayor of New York and mayor of Indianapolis, where he earned a reputation as one of the country's leaders in public-private partnerships, competition, and privatization. Goldsmith was also the chief domestic policy advisor to the George W. Bush campaign in 2000, the chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the district attorney for Marion County, Indiana, from 1979 to 1990. He has previously written The Power of Social Innovation; Governing by Network: the New Shape of the Public Sector; Putting Faith in Neighborhoods: Making Cities Work through Grassroots Citizenship; The Twenty-First Century City: Resurrecting Urban America; and The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance.

Neil Kleiman is an urban policy professor at New York University, teaching courses on government innovation and new approaches to technology and big data. He has a joint appointment at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Center for Urban Science + Progress. He has worked directly with dozens of mayors and senior municipal officials through urban innovation projects supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Kauffman Foundation, and Citibank. He also serves as Director for Research for the National Resource Network, a federally supported initiative providing assistance to the 300 most-economically challenged cities in America. Before joining NYU, Kleiman was Director of Policy at Living Cities, a collaborative of the world’s largest foundations and corporate philanthropies. He began his career as the founding director of Center for an Urban Future, a New York City-based think tank.

Praise for A New City O/S
"Few can make a better case for how data and transparency can make government work better for the people who need it most. The authors present a bold rethinking of how government should and can work in the digital era to promote more equitable, vibrant, and resilient communities. Drawing from lessons of America’s most innovative cities—including New Orleans—they offer invaluable advice and case studies for anyone interested in addressing our most vexing urban challenges."—Mitch Landrieu, Mayor, New Orleans

"This great new book isn’t just a plan for a new nuts-and-bolts operating system for cities—it’s a genuinely fresh and innovative way of thinking about governance. Goldsmith and Kleiman develop a theory of “distributed governance” to map how power can be shared—and a strategy for making it work. Anyone interested in making cities work better—and that includes all of us—needs to wrestle with the meaty and lively story they tell."—Donald F. Kettl, Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland

"Our democracy is only as strong as the trust we place in the institutions that work for us—and technology offers a digital path to new levels of transparency and accountability in government. A New City O/S is a blueprint for helping cities take advantage of innovative tools that can improve service delivery, bring new people into the conversation, and engage everyday residents in the work of building stronger and more inclusive communities."—Eric Garcetti, Mayor, Los Angeles

"Goldsmith and Kleiman illuminate an effort critical to the future of our country: a major reframing of public sector operations to make them work for, and with, the American public. The case studies they chronicle here, the lessons they derive, and their guidance for the future will help any change agent get us to the new operating system our local governments so desperately need."—Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America

For more information, contact:
Daniel Harsha
Associate Director for Communications and Government Relations
Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

Harvard Kennedy School


About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education, and public discussion. Three major programs support our mission: the Program on Democratic Governance, the Innovations in Government Program, and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia. For more information, visit ash.harvard.edu.

About the Brookings Institution Press
The Brookings Institution Press helps bring the knowledge and research by scholars from within and outside the Institution to a wider audience of readers, researchers, students, and policymakers through its books and journals. The Press publishes about forty books a year that harness the power of fact and rigorous research to start conversations, inform debates, change minds, and move policy. For more information, visit www.brookings.edu.