Policy Briefs

Reflecting on a Year of Promises: A Conference Assessing Organizational Antiracism Journeys

Reflecting on a Year of Promises: A Conference Assessing Organizational Antiracism Journeys

Abstract:

The annual Truth and Transformation Conference is convened by Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad and hosted by the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability (IARA) Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center. This is the third installment of the conference, which began in 2019 and was estab- lished to focus on drivers of antiracist change in private, public, and academic institutions.

During this free virtual conference, the IARA team invited fellow advocates, organizers, scholars, students, and community members to engage in challenging and thoughtful conversations centered around the 2021 theme “Reflecting on A Year of Promises.”

This year’s event focused on examining the prior year of institutional promises and publicly stated intentions to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the United States and globally in the wake of the “George Floyd” moment in American history. This year our organizers asked; Did organizations keep their promises? What more work is there to be done to follow through on these public commitments?

The conference was organized in four parts around the question; How does historical reflection and reckoning move the public conversation and lead to policy and institutional change?

In the opening Institute of Politics Forum, Professor Muhammad was joined by a leading scholar and practitioner, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Heather McGhee, to discuss ways to understand and measure change at this moment. The opening panel situated the conference and theme in a historical and con- temporary context that served as a reminder that the history and politics of racism must be viewed in tandem as mechanisms to measure change.

Three additional panels featured leaders in academia and professional practice in discussion on transformative change beyond performative statements into actionable, institutional shifts. The first panel examined the validity of an economic argument for improving diversity and brought insights to the discussion from bankers, economists, and philanthropic directors. The second panel emphasized the importance of board membership as a conduit for enacting or inhibiting organizational change in relation to equity and inclusion. The final panel challenged the notion of risk as a measuring tool for organizational change and offered alternative perspectives on ways to identify and value humanity in the work across industries.

The conference and its proceedings serve to remind us that if we are truthful about racism in our politics and policy making, then we must accept that it has a cost for all of us.

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Last updated on 06/13/2022

Taiwan: A Risk Analysis Through the Lens of Hong Kong

Citation:

Kwok, Dennis W. H., and Johnny Patterson. 2022. “Taiwan: A Risk Analysis Through the Lens of Hong Kong”.
Taiwan: A Risk Analysis Through the Lens of Hong Kong

Abstract:

Dennis W.H. Kwok and Johnny Patterson, May 2022

This paper aims to provide an overall risk analysis of the Taiwan Strait situation by using Hong Kong’s experience over the past three decades as a point of comparison. The authors focus on three areas where those watching Taiwan can learn from Hong Kong. Since Deng Xiaopeng’s rule, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been inextricably intertwined, with China intending to reunify both territories using the “one country, two systems” formula. There are, of course, fundamental differences between the situations in Taiwan and Hong Kong. But there are also many similarities from which one can draw useful lessons. In the past three decades, Hong Kong tried to preserve its liberal democratic values whilst coexisting under an authoritarian regime. Hong Kong’s experience proved that a liberal democratic society cannot survive alongside an increasingly aggressive and authoritarian Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime. Taiwan essentially faces the same dilemma.

Hong Kong offers four key insights: First, Hong Kong provides a window through which to understand the modus operandi of Xi Jinping’s CCP. Political priorities trump all others —while CCP actions make sense within the system, they may confuse outsiders. Ultimately, Xi’s words should be taken literally and seriously. Second, the failure of the “one country, two systems” formula and Hong Kong’s collapse should not be lost on Taiwan. The so-called “United Front” tactics and the political polarization that occurred in Hong Kong are being emulated in Taiwan, with the Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) platform feeling increasingly untenable and anachronistic, especially in light of Hong Kong’s experience. Third, the infiltration of Mainland capital into Hong Kong over the past two decades has changed the underlying structure of Hong Kong as a business and financial center. The effect of ‘red’ capital made local Hong Kong and international business voices irrelevant. The authors saw their ability to influence and thereby moderate government policies waned over the years—leading to disastrous consequences for Hong Kong. Finally, Hong Kong has changed the geopolitical landscape in ways that have profound ramifications for Taiwan and how the international community perceives the CCP. The CCP openly walked back on an international treaty registered with the United Nations. The response of the international community and businesses reveals important lessons about the West’s vulnerabilities to this kind of geopolitical shock should the situation over the Taiwan Strait worsen.

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Last updated on 04/27/2022

Best Practices for the Governance of Digital Public Goods

Citation:

Eaves, David, Leonie Bolte, Omayra Chuquihuara, and Surabhi Hodigere. 2022. “Best Practices for the Governance of Digital Public Goods”.
Best Practices for the Governance of Digital Public Goods

Abstract:

David Eaves, Leonie Bolte, Omayra Chuquihuara, and Surabhi Hodigere, April 2022

“Digital government” is becoming simply “government.” As a result, an ever-increasing number of systems and processes critical to the operation of government—the core infrastructure of a state—are being digitized. This necessity creates enormous opportunities—to enhance, scale, and even standardize government services—and challenges—including a risk that building out this new infrastructure will impose costs that will reinforce global inequities.

In this light, it is no surprise that Digital Public Goods (DPGs)—an institutionalized sharing of “open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content” between government and other actors—are an increasingly discussed model. This presents an opportunity to share the burden of modernizing the core infrastructure of a state.

Inspired by the open-source movement, not only are DPGs non-rivalrous, but sharing them across jurisdictions could lower costs, speed adoption, and create standards to facilitate cooperation and trade. However, the joint management of any resource by sovereign entities—particularly of key infrastructure for the maintenance of public goods and services offered by the state—carries with it significant questions of governance.

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Last updated on 04/21/2022

The 2021 Digital Services Convening

Citation:

Eaves, David, and Sechi Kailasa. 2022. “The 2021 Digital Services Convening”.
The 2021 Digital Services Convening

Abstract:

David Eaves and Sechi Kailasa, March 2022

This year’s convening marked the fourth Digital Services Convening jointly organized by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Public Digital, a disruptive digital trans- formation consultancy. The event has been described by a Cambridge University study as one of six seminal digital government conferences across the globe. The importance of having a space where digital government practitioners can learn, share, and discuss their experiences is only growing, as more and more governments are grappling with transformation efforts and the subsequent issues that such efforts give rise to.

Many digital service teams had made significant gains during the pandemic and were awarded more authority, remit, and funding. COVID-19 had also affected governments’ risk appetites across the world, leading to more experimentation and iteration. This has not always led to successful outcomes; in some cases, it might not be appropriate to bypass processes or use a magic wand as a lever. However, this general shift has meant that the entrenched ways of working and the prevailing speed of bureaucracy were challenged. It remains an open question as to whether all the gains made during the pandemic can or should be retained.

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Last updated on 03/29/2022

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, State of Ohio: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, State of Ohio: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

Abstract:

Colleen Crispino, January 2022 

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), Ohio’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, is responsible for providing employment-related services to eligible individuals in Ohio to help them achieve their employment goals. Their program model, designed to improve employment outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities, addresses some of the barriers that exist for these populations. Since 2013, their Business Relations team has partnered with more than 500 employers statewide to match skilled candidates to available jobs. As part of this service, OOD provides no-cost solutions for employers, including improved worksite accessibility and accommodations and training on disability etiquette and awareness. These strategies have resulted in increased hiring of VR participants by employer partners.3

As part of their innovative service system, OOD partners with large employers in the Columbus area to embed Ohio State VR staff in each employer’s human resources department to quickly match qualified candidates with disabilities to open positions. OOD first tested this approach with one major employer in 2017, leading to the hiring of 60 individuals with disabilities in the first three years. They later expanded the program to include an additional major employer, in a different industry, with similarly positive results.

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Last updated on 01/07/2022

BenePhilly, City of Philadelphia: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

BenePhilly, City of Philadelphia: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

Abstract:

Betsy Gardner, January 2022 

The American social safety net exists to meet needs for: unemployment assistance, supplemental money for food, help with health care costs and medical expenses, and more. However, the process of signing up for these services is often time-consuming, confusing, repetitive, and frustrating.

To address these challenges, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Benefits Data Trust (BDT) developed BenePhilly, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Departments of Aging and Human Services, to inform people of their eligibility for benefits and assist them in quickly and efficiently enrolling. This paper is a case study of the BenePhilly program and will serve as a guide to replicate its success. By using proven, data-driven methods, the program connects high-need, eligible individuals with up to 19 different benefits, all while reducing overall poverty, providing a better application experience, and increasing trust in local government.

BenePhilly is a network of government agencies, nonprofits, and community-based organizations connecting Philadelphians to benefits through targeted, data-driven outreach, referrals from a network of organizations, and in-person and telephone application assistance. The trained staff at both BDT and the nonprofit organizations embedded in the communities they serve help individuals easily find and enroll in benefits. According to BDT’s Chief Strategy Officer Pauline Abernathy, BenePhilly has helped more than 125,000 Philadelphia residents secure over $1.6 billion in benefits as of January 2021.

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Last updated on 01/26/2022

Pathways to Economic Advancement, Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

Pathways to Economic Advancement, Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

Abstract:

Jeanne Batalova, January 2022 

Adult English learners (ELs) are as likely to find jobs in the U.S. labor market as those who speak English fluently. There are significant differences, however, when it comes to salary, job quality, and professional opportunities. Today, more than 240,000 working-age adults are in need of English-language services in Greater Boston, with most seeking to improve their English fluency to find a job or get pro- moted. Despite this need, only 11,600 adults receive English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services each year. As a result, adult ELs are often limited in their ability to contribute to local and state economies in terms of taxes and consumer spending.

Developed by Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) in Boston, the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement (Pathways) program started with a fundamental question: Given the high unmet demand for vocational and workplace English, how do we effectively scale up a proven workforce-oriented model of teaching adults English for employment. Through its four program tracks and an innovating fund- ing model (Pay for Success), Pathways offers a continuum of work-related ESOL services coupled with individualized job coaching and job placement.

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Last updated on 01/07/2022

Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, City University of New York: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, City University of New York: Innovations in American Government Award Case Study

Abstract:

Philip Jordan, January 2022 

Social and economic mobility are at historic lows in America, while entrenched racial inequality cotinues to erect barriers. Research suggests that education is critically important to enable economic mobility, particularly for the lowest-income populations, which are most frequently served by the patch- work of community colleges across the US.

While progress in expanding access and enrollment at community colleges over the past 20 years is significant, the rate of degree completion has generally not improved. Systemic barriers, including financial, social, and academic, persist. Three-year completion rates for associate degrees are very low, and there is a significant achievement gap for racial and ethnic minorities. Eliminating barriers to success is not easy and the community colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY) have not been immune to these challenges. However, while many programs attempt to overcome these obstacles, few have demonstrated verifiable success and none more so than CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP).

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Last updated on 01/11/2022

Designing for Community Engagement: Toward More Equitable Civic Participation in the Federal Regulatory Process

Designing for Community Engagement: Toward More Equitable Civic Participation in the Federal Regulatory Process

Abstract:

Archon Fung, Hollie Russon Gilman, and Mark Schmitt; December 2021 

To understand the advantages of and challenges to a reformed regulatory review process, New America’s Political Reform program and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government convened a group of local community engagement experts, public sector leaders, and on-the-ground organizers to share their expertise in designing processes that support more inclusive engagement, in particular working with historically underserved communities.

During this discussion with local community engagement experts, we sought to identify the process designs and other innovations that would empower residents to exercise meaningful influence over decisions about the formation, review, and implementation of regulations. Our discussion focused on extending community engagement processes to give grassroots groups and affected parties a voice in the federal regulatory process.

These experts agreed that when engagement is designed intentionally, policymakers can work with communities more effectively to garner information and insights, implement programs or provide services, and build trusting relationships. Furthermore, while participation in and of itself is important, designing more effective engagement can also ensure that participants identify and harness opportunities to protect their interests and influence decision-making. And, most importantly, transparent and inclusive engagement practices can improve policy outcomes and strengthen equity.

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Last updated on 01/07/2022

Assessing the U.S. Treasury Department’s Allocations of Funding for Tribal Governments under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Assessing the U.S. Treasury Department’s Allocations of Funding for Tribal Governments under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Abstract:

Eric C. Henson, Miriam R. Jorgensen, Joseph P. Kalt, & Isabelle G. Leonaitis; November 2021  

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“the Act” or “ARPA”) has resulted in the single largest infusion of federal funding for Native America in U.S. history. The core of this funding is $20 billion for the more than 570 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments. As required by the Act, the Department of the Treasury (“Treasury” or “the Department”) devised and has now implemented a formula for allocating these monies. In this report, the authors find that the allocations that have been made are grossly inequitable and contrary to the policy objectives of Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Treasury Department itself.

 

This study uses publicly available information to estimate enrollment and employment counts for tribes. These figures are only estimates created for the express purpose of analyzing the appropriateness of the US Department of the Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Act allocations. Our estimates have not and cannot be verified against actual enrollment or employment data submitted to the Department of Treasury by each tribe.  We believe the estimates are as accurate as possible and reliable for the purpose of assessing the relative positions of tribes under Treasury’s ARPA allocations, but should not be extracted and used as accurate for any individual tribe or for any purpose other than how they are used here.

 

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Last updated on 11/08/2021

Democratizing the Federal Regulatory Process: A Blueprint to Strengthen Equity, Dignity, and Civic Engagement through Executive Branch Action

Democratizing the Federal Regulatory Process: A Blueprint to Strengthen Equity, Dignity, and Civic Engagement through Executive Branch Action

Abstract:

Archon Fung, Hollie Russon Gilman, and Mark Schmitt; September 2021 

While legislation tends to get more attention, the regulatory process within the executive branch is at the core of day-to-day democratic governance. Federal regulation and rule-making engages dozens of agencies and affects every American. In writing the rules and regulations to implement laws, revise standards, and exercise the substantial authority granted to the presidency, the agencies of the federal government set directions, priorities, and boundaries for our collective life. At times, the regulatory process has moved the country in the direction of greater justice, equality, and security. At other times, it has pulled us in other directions, often with little public engagement or debate.

The Biden-Harris administration acknowledged the centrality of the regulatory process with two actions on the President’s first day in office. The first called for modernizing the regulatory review process, particularly the central oversight role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The second was an executive order calling on the federal government to support underserved communities and advance racial equity. To understand the challenges to and advantages of a reformed regulatory review process, New America’s Political Reform Program and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government convened a group of academic experts from across the country to share their findings on the state of regulatory review and to identify alternative measures of not just the cost of regulations, but also the distributional impact of their costs and benefits. These experts specialize in administrative law, economic analysis, public participation, and regulatory review, and their work covers policy areas including patent law, healthcare, and environmental justice.

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Last updated on 10/04/2021

Understanding the Role of Local Election Officials: How Local Autonomy Shapes U.S. Election Administration

Understanding the Role of Local Election Officials: How Local Autonomy Shapes U.S. Election Administration

Abstract:

Hannah Furstenberg-Beckman, Greg Degen, and Tova Wang; September 2021 

This policy brief will examine the independence and discretionary powers of local election officials and offer a framework to better understand local autonomy in our electoral system. It will also describe the larger system within which the local election official operates and demonstrate how local power and voter-focused decision-making varies across the country. The brief will use illustrative examples of the exercise of autonomy by local election officials from past elections as well as examples of shifts in local discretionary powers from the recent wave of state legislative efforts that seek to restrict autonomy.

It will also address the implications of local autonomy for those with an interest in increasing voter access and promoting voter participation. This brief can be a resource for those seeking a better understanding of the possible levers of change in their own state or locality’s electoral system.

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Last updated on 10/04/2021

Toward a Smarter Future: Building Back Better with Intelligent Civil Infrastructure -- Smart Sensors and Self-Monitoring Civil Works

Toward a Smarter Future: Building Back Better with Intelligent Civil Infrastructure -- Smart Sensors and Self-Monitoring Civil Works

Abstract:

Stephen Goldsmith, Betsy Gardner, and Jill Jamieson; September 2021 

 

The United States needs to build better infrastructure. The current repairs and replacements are disorganized and patchwork, resulting in unsafe, costly, and inequitable roads, bridges, dams, sidewalks, and water systems. A strategic, smart infrastructure plan that integrates digital technology, sensors, and data not only addresses these issues but can mitigate risks and even improve the conditions and structures that shape our daily lives.

 

By applying data analysis to intelligent infrastructure, which integrates digital technology and smart sensors, we can identify issues with the country’s roadways, buildings, and bridges before they become acute dangers. First, by identifying infrastructure weaknesses, smart infrastructure systems can address decades of deferred maintenance, a practice that has left many structures in perilous conditions. Sensors in pavement, bridges, vehicles, and sewer systems can target where these problems exist, allowing governments to allocate funding toward the neediest projects.

From there, these sensors and other smart technologies will alert leaders to changes or issues before they pose a danger—and often before a human inspector can even see them. The many infrastructure emergencies in the U.S. cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year, so identifying and fixing these issues is a pressing security issue. Further, as the changing climate leads to more extreme weather and natural disasters, the safety and resiliency of the country’s infrastructure is an immediate concern. Sensor systems and other intelligent infrastructure technology can identify and mitigate these problems, saving money and lives.

In addition, intelligent infrastructure can be layered onto existing infrastructure to address public health concerns, like monitoring sewer water for COVID-19 and other pathogens or installing smart sensors along dangerous interstates to automatically lower speed limits and reduce accidents. It can also be used to improve materials, like concrete, to reduce the carbon footprint of a project, ultimately contributing to better health and environmental outcomes.

Finally, addressing inequities is a major reason to utilize intelligent infrastructure. Research shows that people of color in the U.S. are exposed to more pollutants, toxic chemicals, and physical danger through excess car emissions, aging water pipes, and poor road conditions. The implementation and funding of these intelligent infrastructure projects must consider where—and to whom—harm has traditionally been done and how building back better can measurably improve the quality of life in marginalized and vulnerable communities.

While there are challenges to implementing a sweeping intelligent infrastructure plan, including upfront costs and security concerns, all levels of government play a role in achieving a safer society. At the federal level, with infrastructure funding bills being debated at this moment, the government must look beyond roads and bridges and consider that intelligent infrastructure is a system: upheld, connected, and integrated by data. Through grants, incentives, and authorized funding, the federal government can effect monumental change that will improve how all residents experience their daily lives. At the state level, budgeting with intelligent infrastructure in mind will encourage innovative approaches to local infrastructure. And on a municipal level, cities and towns can invest in comprehensive asset management systems and training for local workers to best utilize the intelligent infrastructure data.

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Last updated on 12/13/2021

Emerging Stronger than Before: Guidelines for the Federal Role in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes’ Recovery from the COVID‐19 Pandemic

Emerging Stronger than Before: Guidelines for the Federal Role in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes’ Recovery from the COVID‐19 Pandemic

Abstract:

The COVID‐19 pandemic has wrought havoc in Indian Country. While the American people as a whole have borne extreme pain and suffering, and the transition back to “normal” will be drawn out and difficult, the First Peoples of America arguably have suffered the most severe and most negative consequences of all. The highest rates of positive COVID‐19 cases have been found among American Indian tribes, but that is only part of the story.

Even before the pandemic, the average household income for Native Americans living on Indian reservations was barely half the U.S. average. Then the pandemic effectively shut down the economies of many tribal nations. In the process, tribal governments’ primary sources of the funding – which are needed to fight the pandemic and to meet citizens’ needs – have been decimated.

As with the rest of the U.S., emergency and interim support from the CARES Act and other federal measures have helped to dampen the social and economic harm of the COVID‐19 crisis in Indian Country. Yet this assistance has come to the country’s 574 federally recognized Indian tribes with litigation‐driven delay and counterproductive strings attached, and against a pre‐ pandemic background characterized by federal government underfunding and neglect – especially as compared to the funding provided and attention paid to state and local governments.

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Last updated on 01/07/2022

Federal COVID‐19 Response Funding for Tribal Governments: Lessons from the CARES Act

Citation:

Henson, Eric C., Megan M. Hill, Miriam R. Jorgensen, and Joseph P. Kalt. 2021. “Federal COVID‐19 Response Funding for Tribal Governments: Lessons from the CARES Act”.
Federal COVID‐19 Response Funding for Tribal Governments: Lessons from the CARES Act

Abstract:

The federal response to the COVID19 pandemic has played out in varied ways over the past several months. For Native nations, the CARES Act (i.e., the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) has been the most prominent component of this response to date. Title V of the Act earmarked $8 billion for tribes and was allocated in two rounds, with many disbursements taking place in May and June of this year.

This federal response has been critical for many tribes because of the lower socioeconomic starting points for their community members as compared to nonIndians. Even before the pandemic, the average income of a reservationresident Native American household was barely half that of the average U.S. household. Low average incomes, chronically high unemployment rates, and dilapidated or nonexistent infrastructure are persistent challenges for tribal communities and tribal leaders. Layering extremely high coronavirus incidence rates (and the effective closure of many tribal nations’ entire economies2) on top of these already challenging circumstances presented tribal governments with a host of new concerns. In other words, at the same time tribal governments’ primary resources were decimated (i.e., the earnings of tribal governmental gaming and nongaming enterprises dried up), the demands on tribes increased. They needed these resources to fight the pandemic and to continue to meet the needs of tribal citizens.

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Last updated on 01/07/2022

The Chinese Population Implosion: An Unparalleled Demographic Challenge with Global Consequences

The Chinese Population Implosion: An Unparalleled Demographic Challenge with Global Consequences

Abstract:

Borje Ljunggren, June 2021 

In late May, the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced that couples would be allowed to have three children. As late as 2015, CCP finally gave up its draconic one-child policy, in force since 1979, for a two-child policy, but the number of births soon kept falling. In spite of the two-child policy the fertility rate has in the last few years actually fallen to just 1.3, well below 2.1 births per woman, the level required to maintain a stable population.

The Party is experiencing the recoil effect of its biopolitics. At the turn of the century, China’s population, according to UN World Population Prospects (2019) medium variant, will have fallen to just over 1 billion. The population in 55 countries is expected to decrease during the next few decades, but no other country, with the exception of Iran, has undergone such a rapid and compressed demographic transformation as China, with a rapidly aging population and a diminishing labor supply. The causes are deep-rooted, beyond just launching a three-child policy. The one-child policy also had a tragic impact on the nation’s gender ratio, resulting in an extreme predominance in birth rates for boys and tens of millions of “missing women.” Technological developments with robots and AI will dramatically reduce the effects of China’s declining supply of labor but is seems clear is that the country is facing unique demographic challenges, with global consequences. The shadow that China is casting is growing in complexity!

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Last updated on 06/28/2021

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Immigration Are Needed for the Middle Class

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Immigration Are Needed for the Middle Class

Abstract:

David Dapice, June 2021 

The US population aged 20–65, according to US Census projections, will grow by 355,000 a year this decade, and of that number, only 225,000 new entrants a year will likely be working and increasing the labor force. Yet, even after prepandemic employment is reached later this year or early in 2022, labor demand will continue to grow by millions of jobs far more than will be supplied by new entrants. If immigration policy and automation adjustments are not enough to make up for the deficit, there will be shortages and inflation, forcing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and perhaps cause a recession. Such a recession hurts middle- and working-class families. 

The US has indicated it wishes to compete with China. China has already formed a large trade bloc in Asia, and the obvious alternative—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—was negotiated by the US but was never even put up for approval, lacking support from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Given all this, it is worth asking: is the TPP actually bad for labor and the middle class?

 

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Last updated on 06/07/2021

Risk Mitigation and Creating Social Impact: Chinese Technology Companies in the United States

Citation:

Yu, Wenchi. 2021. “Risk Mitigation and Creating Social Impact: Chinese Technology Companies in the United States.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
Risk Mitigation and Creating Social Impact: Chinese Technology Companies in the United States

Abstract:

Wenchi Yu, April 2021

Chinese technology companies have become a topic of interest to not only the business and investor communities but also increasingly the national security and intelligence communities. Their scale and level of innovation present new possibilities and new competition as well as shape global trends. Yet the relationship of such companies to the Chinese government is often opaque. As a result, their growing integration into the global telecommunications system also casts doubt on their intentions and legitimacy.

This paper reviews key US policy developments under the Trump administration, both broadly toward China and more narrowly relating to trade and technology, and examines the business strategy of four Chinese technology companies operating in the United States. It outlines the benefits of a corporate risk mitigation approach that incorporates social impact creation as an integral part of business and nonmarket strategy for Chinese technology companies, in the United States, and elsewhere. However, this paper also argues that corporate actions can only go so far. Because technology necessarily involves concerns of national security, the role of government—and government cooperation—is essential. It is only through a combination of more locally engaged corporate actions and internationally agreed upon sectoral rules and standard settings that we will be better able to improve transparency and trust-building across borders.

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Last updated on 04/14/2021

Recommendations for Allocation and Administration of American Rescue Plan Act Funding for American Indian Tribal Governments

Recommendations for Allocation and Administration of American Rescue Plan Act Funding for American Indian Tribal Governments

Abstract:

Eric C. Henson, Megan Hill, Miriam R. Jorgensen, and Joseph P. Kalt; April 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides the largest infusion of federal funding for Indian Country in the history of the United States. More than $32 billion dollars is directed toward assisting American Indian nations and communities as they work to end and recover from the devastating COVID19 pandemic – which was made worse in Indian Country precisely because such funding is long overdue.

In this policy brief, we set out recommendations which we hope will promote the wise and productive allocation of ARPA funds to the nation’s 574 federally recognized American Indian tribes. We see ARPA as a potential “Marshall Plan” for the revitalization of Indian nations. The Act holds the promise of materially remedying at least some of the gross, documented, and long-standing underfunding of federal obligations and responsibilities in Indian Country. Yet, fulfilling that promise requires that the federal government expeditiously and wisely allocate ARPA funds to tribes, and that tribes efficiently and effectively deploy those funds to maximize their positive impacts on tribal communities.

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Last updated on 06/07/2021

2020 State of Digital Transformation

Citation:

Eaves, David, and Lauren Lombardo. 2020. “2020 State of Digital Transformation”.
2020 State of Digital Transformation

Abstract:

David Eaves, Lauren Lombardo, February 2021 

Starting in 2018, every year, the State of Digital Transformation report documents the main lessons from a Digital Services Convening hosted at Harvard Kennedy School. In 2020, Harvard Kennedy School and Public Digital hosted a series of discussions on the coronavirus digital response. These gatherings, which included a wide range of digital service groups, highlighted success stories, lessons learned, and tools that digital teams could leverage or repurpose. 

This year's report highlights some of the new possibilities discussed at the convening and provides further reflections on crisis response. 

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Last updated on 02/19/2021
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Reflecting on a Year of Promises: A Conference Assessing Organizational Antiracism Journeys

Reflecting on a Year of Promises: A Conference Assessing Organizational Antiracism Journeys

Abstract:

The annual Truth and Transformation Conference is convened by Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad and hosted by the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability (IARA) Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center. This is the third installment of the conference, which began in 2019 and was estab- lished to focus on drivers of antiracist change in private, public, and academic institutions.

During this free virtual conference, the IARA team invited fellow advocates, organizers, scholars, students, and community members to engage in challenging and thoughtful conversations centered around the 2021 theme “Reflecting on A Year of Promises.”

This year’s event focused on examining the prior year of institutional promises and publicly stated intentions to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the United States and globally in the wake of the “George Floyd” moment in American history. This year our organizers asked; Did organizations keep their promises? What more work is there to be done to follow through on these public commitments?

The conference was organized in four parts around the question; How does historical reflection and reckoning move the public conversation and lead to policy and institutional change?

In the opening Institute of Politics Forum, Professor Muhammad was joined by a leading scholar and practitioner, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Heather McGhee, to discuss ways to understand and measure change at this moment. The opening panel situated the conference and theme in a historical and con- temporary context that served as a reminder that the history and politics of racism must be viewed in tandem as mechanisms to measure change.

Three additional panels featured leaders in academia and professional practice in discussion on transformative change beyond performative statements into actionable, institutional shifts. The first panel examined the validity of an economic argument for improving diversity and brought insights to the discussion from bankers, economists, and philanthropic directors. The second panel emphasized the importance of board membership as a conduit for enacting or inhibiting organizational change in relation to equity and inclusion. The final panel challenged the notion of risk as a measuring tool for organizational change and offered alternative perspectives on ways to identify and value humanity in the work across industries.

The conference and its proceedings serve to remind us that if we are truthful about racism in our politics and policy making, then we must accept that it has a cost for all of us.

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Last updated on 06/13/2022

Designing for Community Engagement: Toward More Equitable Civic Participation in the Federal Regulatory Process

Designing for Community Engagement: Toward More Equitable Civic Participation in the Federal Regulatory Process

Abstract:

Archon Fung, Hollie Russon Gilman, and Mark Schmitt; December 2021 

To understand the advantages of and challenges to a reformed regulatory review process, New America’s Political Reform program and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government convened a group of local community engagement experts, public sector leaders, and on-the-ground organizers to share their expertise in designing processes that support more inclusive engagement, in particular working with historically underserved communities.

During this discussion with local community engagement experts, we sought to identify the process designs and other innovations that would empower residents to exercise meaningful influence over decisions about the formation, review, and implementation of regulations. Our discussion focused on extending community engagement processes to give grassroots groups and affected parties a voice in the federal regulatory process.

These experts agreed that when engagement is designed intentionally, policymakers can work with communities more effectively to garner information and insights, implement programs or provide services, and build trusting relationships. Furthermore, while participation in and of itself is important, designing more effective engagement can also ensure that participants identify and harness opportunities to protect their interests and influence decision-making. And, most importantly, transparent and inclusive engagement practices can improve policy outcomes and strengthen equity.

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Last updated on 01/07/2022

Democratizing the Federal Regulatory Process: A Blueprint to Strengthen Equity, Dignity, and Civic Engagement through Executive Branch Action

Democratizing the Federal Regulatory Process: A Blueprint to Strengthen Equity, Dignity, and Civic Engagement through Executive Branch Action

Abstract:

Archon Fung, Hollie Russon Gilman, and Mark Schmitt; September 2021 

While legislation tends to get more attention, the regulatory process within the executive branch is at the core of day-to-day democratic governance. Federal regulation and rule-making engages dozens of agencies and affects every American. In writing the rules and regulations to implement laws, revise standards, and exercise the substantial authority granted to the presidency, the agencies of the federal government set directions, priorities, and boundaries for our collective life. At times, the regulatory process has moved the country in the direction of greater justice, equality, and security. At other times, it has pulled us in other directions, often with little public engagement or debate.

The Biden-Harris administration acknowledged the centrality of the regulatory process with two actions on the President’s first day in office. The first called for modernizing the regulatory review process, particularly the central oversight role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The second was an executive order calling on the federal government to support underserved communities and advance racial equity. To understand the challenges to and advantages of a reformed regulatory review process, New America’s Political Reform Program and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government convened a group of academic experts from across the country to share their findings on the state of regulatory review and to identify alternative measures of not just the cost of regulations, but also the distributional impact of their costs and benefits. These experts specialize in administrative law, economic analysis, public participation, and regulatory review, and their work covers policy areas including patent law, healthcare, and environmental justice.

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Last updated on 10/04/2021

Understanding the Role of Local Election Officials: How Local Autonomy Shapes U.S. Election Administration

Understanding the Role of Local Election Officials: How Local Autonomy Shapes U.S. Election Administration

Abstract:

Hannah Furstenberg-Beckman, Greg Degen, and Tova Wang; September 2021 

This policy brief will examine the independence and discretionary powers of local election officials and offer a framework to better understand local autonomy in our electoral system. It will also describe the larger system within which the local election official operates and demonstrate how local power and voter-focused decision-making varies across the country. The brief will use illustrative examples of the exercise of autonomy by local election officials from past elections as well as examples of shifts in local discretionary powers from the recent wave of state legislative efforts that seek to restrict autonomy.

It will also address the implications of local autonomy for those with an interest in increasing voter access and promoting voter participation. This brief can be a resource for those seeking a better understanding of the possible levers of change in their own state or locality’s electoral system.

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Last updated on 10/04/2021

Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting

Citation:

Rapoport, Miles, E.J. Dionne, and et al. 2020. “Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Brookings Governance Program .
Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting

Abstract:

The Universal Voting Working Group, July 2020 

Imagine an American democracy remade by its citizens in the very image of its promise, a society where the election system is designed to allow citizens to perform their most basic civic duty with ease. Imagine that all could vote without obstruction or suppression. Imagine Americans who now solemnly accept their responsibilities to sit on juries and to defend our country in a time of war taking their obligations to the work of self-government just as seriously. Imagine elections in which 80 percent or more of our people cast their ballots—broad participation in our great democratic undertaking by citizens of every race, heritage and class, by those with strongly-held ideological beliefs, and those with more moderate or less settled views. And imagine how all of this could instill confidence in our capacity for common action.

This report is offered with these aspirations in mind and is rooted in the history of American movements to expand voting rights. Our purpose is to propose universal civic duty voting as an indispensable and transformative step toward full electoral participation. Our nation’s current crisis of governance has focused unprecedented public attention on intolerable inequities and demands that Americans think boldly and consider reforms that until now seemed beyond our reach.

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Last updated on 07/22/2020

Union Impact on Voter Participation—And How to Expand It

Union Impact on Voter Participation—And How to Expand It

Abstract:

Tova Wang, May 2020

Some politicians have enacted measures in recent years to make voting harder and to reduce participation among certain groups. Others have sought to counteract that voter suppression by implementing laws to make voting easier, such as same-day or automatic registration. There is another antidote to the effort to reduce participation: lifting up worker organizations. This is especially important to understand given the ways in which powerful individuals and groups have sought to weaken unions because of their political strength representing American workers.

In this report, the author first explains efforts to weaken unions and the voice of working people; then what the decline of unions and union membership has meant for participation; next, Wang looks at the data showing the positive effects unions have on voter participation; and finally, she suggests how going forward we can reform the laws and how labor is structured such that it not only continues to facilitate voter participation, but even enhances it.

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Last updated on 06/30/2020

Science, Technology, & Democracy: Building a Modern Congressional Technology Assessment Office

Science, Technology, & Democracy: Building a Modern Congressional Technology Assessment Office

Abstract:

Zach Graves and Daniel Schuman, January 2020

This paper offers recommendations and a road map for the future success of a restarted technology assessment office in Congress. We look at three potential approaches: (1) Building up the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s OTA-like capacity in its newly created Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team, and giving it greater resources and structural autonomy; (2) Reviving OTA but updating its procedures and statutory authority; and (3) A hybrid approach wherein both GAO and a new OTA develop different capacities and specializations. (Spoiler: we favor the third approach.)
 
The next section of this paper reviews what OTA was and how it functioned. The third section discusses the history of and rationale for the defunding of OTA, other cuts to Congress’s S&T capacity, and why this congressional capacity and expertise matter for democracy. The fourth section reviews efforts to revive OTA and other efforts to build new congressional S&T capacity. The fifth section discusses the political landscape for building S&T capacity, including the legislative branch appropriations process and the different political constituencies for S&T. The final section offers a detailed discussion of various structural recommendations for a new congressional technology assessment office, including an expanded STAA unit in GAO, and a new OTA.
 

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Last updated on 01/27/2020

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission: One State's Model for Reform

Citation:

Mathis, Colleen, Daniel Moskowitz, and Benjamin Schneer. 2019. “The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission: One State's Model for Reform”.

Abstract:

Colleen Mathis, Daniel Moskowitz, and Benjamin Schneer; September 2019 

In most states, redistricting, the process by which electoral district boundaries are drawn, is an overtly partisan exercise controlled by state legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2019 decision Rucho v. Common Cause held that federal courts cannot review allegations of partisan gerrymandering. Independent redistricting in practice has proven remarkably successful along several dimensions. This policy brief outlines key lessons learned from redistricting in Arizona, a state with a five-person independent redistricting commission.

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Last updated on 01/24/2020

Civic Responsibility: The Power of Companies to Increase Voter Turnout

Civic Responsibility: The Power of Companies to Increase Voter Turnout

Abstract:

Sofia Gross and Ashley Spillane, June 2019 

This case study provides an analysis and evaluation of the implementation of civic participation programs by companies aimed at increasing voter turnout. The United States consistently lags behind the majority of developed democratic nations in voter turnout, averaging less than half of the eligible voter population participating in midterm elections. The U.S. ranks 26th out of 32 developed democracies in percentage of eligible voters who participate in elections. Today, many companies have dedicated resources for corporate social responsibility projects aimed at strengthening society and building goodwill among employees, consumers, and the public. Voter participation initiatives align with the goals of social responsibility projects, as they address a critical societal problem (lack of engagement), while building goodwill with key stakeholders. 

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Last updated on 10/13/2020

Can Transparency and Accountability Programs Improve Health? Experimental Evidence from Indonesia and Tanzania

Abstract:

Transparency for Development Team, June 2019 

This paper assess the impact of a transparency and accountability program designed to improve maternal and newborn health (MNH) outcomes in Indonesia and Tanzania. Co-designed with local partner organizations to be community-led and non-prescriptive, the program sought to encourage community participation to address local barriers in access to high quality care for pregnant women and infants. This paper evaluates the impact of this program through randomized controlled trials (RCTs), involving 100 treatment and 100 control communities in each country, and finds that on average, this program did not have a statistically significant impact on the use or content of maternal and newborn health services, nor the sense of civic efficacy or civic participation among recent mothers in the communities who were offered it.

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Last updated on 01/24/2020

Europe Is Us: Brexit Will Not Take Place

Abstract:

Muriel Rouyer, May 2019 

The saga of Brexit, an elusive public policy with shifting objectives but devastating costs, confirms an unpleasant reality: economic interdependence keeps majoritarian will, even that of a sovereign people, in check. Brexit raises the question, fundamental in democracy, of political freedom, which itself calls into question the political community within which freely agreed-upon choices are made.

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Engaging Patients for Research That Matters: IBD Partners

Abstract:

Elena Fagotto, Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health, March 2019

The Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health was established to conduct comparative case studies on platforms that empower patients through information to provide an inventory and typology of initiatives. This case study takes a look at IBD Partners, a research network connecting nearly 15,500 IBD patients with over 300 researchers. Patients can contribute their self-reported health data for research by filling out surveys on their health twice a year. This way, patient-generated data feeds into an extensive database that can be accessed by researchers to conduct longitudinal studies, to connect with patients for clinical trials and for prospective studies. Patients can also use the platform to suggest research questions and vote for the most interesting ideas, generating a truly patient-driven research agenda.

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The Power of Peer-to-Peer Connections: Breast Cancer Straight Talk Support Facebook Community

Abstract:

Elena Fagotto, Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health, March 2019

The Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health was established to conduct comparative case studies on platforms that empower patients through information to provide an inventory and typology of initiatives. This case study takes a look at Breast Cancer Straight Talk Support, a closed Facebook community for women dealing with breast cancer and survivors. With hundreds of posts every day, the group is a safe space where women can vent about feeling scared, depressed, or lonely and receive support from women who “get them.” For many members, the group is a window into other women’s cancer journeys, which gives them perspective and a more proactive attitude to fight the disease. The community is also an important resource to ask questions on treatments, side effects, surgery and more.

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Exchanging Information to Create a Learning Health System: The ImproveCareNow Approach to Engagement

Abstract:

Elena Fagotto, Transparency and Technology for Better Health, March 2019

The Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health was established to conduct comparative case studies on platforms that empower patients through information to provide an inventory and typology of initiatives. This case study details ImproveCareNow (ICN), a network of clinicians, medical centers, patients, families and researchers working together to improve the lives of children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

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Local Governance and Access to Urban Services in Asia

Abstract:

Shabbir Cheema, November 2018

This policy brief explores how democratic processes in local governance affect access to urban services in Asian cities, especially for marginalized groups. It is based on research conducted by a group of national research and training institutions in nine cities in five Asian countries as well as regional dialogue hosted and facilitated by East-West Center with the support of the Swedish International Center for Local Democracy (ICLD). Governance process variables investigated were local government resources and capacity; mechanisms for local participation, accountability, and coordination; use of information and communications technology (ICT); implementation and replication of good practices; and management of peri-urbanization. This brief outlines research findings that are applicable across countries at the city level.

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American Democracy: For Whom Does the Death Knell Toll?

Abstract:

Muriel Rouyer, August 2018 

American liberal democracy, once a model throughout the world, is in crisis. The most obvious symptom of this malaise is a paradoxical attitude that pervades an underprivileged section of the population that, against its own interests, supports the ruling plutocrats. How can we explain this?

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Proceedings -- Getting to Eighty Percent: A Symposium Advancing Voter Participation

Abstract:

May 2018 

At the core of the work of the Ash Center and the Kennedy School is the effort to understand how citizens and institutions come together to make democracy work, and rarely before has the importance of this effort been more evident. Underlying the deceptively simple idea of making democracy work are a number of large themes: protecting the fundamental norms of democracy and democratic processes from challenges both in the United States and internationally; encouraging innovation in governance and public accountability; preventing the massive inequalities of our economic system from permeating our democracy and threatening its existence.

Indeed, one essential element of “making democracy work” in the United States is to have as close to full and inclusive participation of the people who comprise our democracy as we possibly can. The name of our May 3rd symposium, “Getting to 80
percent,” was chosen with intent; while a goal of 80 percent participation is achievable, it will require a real stretch—not tinkering around the edges of the current system, but instead pursuing a major set of innovative ideas and practices.

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Artificial Intelligence for Citizen Services and Government

Abstract:

Hila Mehr, August 2017

From online services like Netflix and Facebook, to chatbots on our phones and in our homes like Siri and Alexa, we are beginning to interact with artificial intelligence (AI) on a near daily basis. AI is the programming or training of a computer to do tasks typically reserved for human intelligence, whether it is recommending which movie to watch next or answering technical questions. Soon, AI will permeate the ways we interact with our government, too. From small cities in the US to countries like Japan, government agencies are looking to AI to improve citizen services. This paper explores the various types of AI applications, and current and future uses of AI in government delivery of citizen services, with a focus on citizen inquiries and information. It also offers strategies for governments as they consider implementing AI.

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Last updated on 02/09/2022

Building a Democracy Machine: Toward an Integrated and Empowered Form of Civic Engagement

Abstract:

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.

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The Political Economy of Transparency: What Makes Disclosure Policies Effective?

Citation:

Fung, Archon, David Weil, Mary Graham, and Elena Fagotto. 2004. “The Political Economy of Transparency: What Makes Disclosure Policies Effective?”.

Abstract:

Archon Fung, David Weil, Mary Graham and Elena Fagotto, December 2004 

Transparency systems have emerged in recent years as a mainstream regulatory tool, an important development in social policy. Transparency systems are government mandates that require corporations or other organizations to provide the public with factual information about their products and practices. Such systems have a wide range of regulatory purposes which include protecting investors, improving public health and safety, reducing pollution, minimizing corruption and improving public services.

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Taiwan: A Risk Analysis Through the Lens of Hong Kong

Citation:

Kwok, Dennis W. H., and Johnny Patterson. 2022. “Taiwan: A Risk Analysis Through the Lens of Hong Kong”.
Taiwan: A Risk Analysis Through the Lens of Hong Kong

Abstract:

Dennis W.H. Kwok and Johnny Patterson, May 2022

This paper aims to provide an overall risk analysis of the Taiwan Strait situation by using Hong Kong’s experience over the past three decades as a point of comparison. The authors focus on three areas where those watching Taiwan can learn from Hong Kong. Since Deng Xiaopeng’s rule, Hong Kong and Taiwan have been inextricably intertwined, with China intending to reunify both territories using the “one country, two systems” formula. There are, of course, fundamental differences between the situations in Taiwan and Hong Kong. But there are also many similarities from which one can draw useful lessons. In the past three decades, Hong Kong tried to preserve its liberal democratic values whilst coexisting under an authoritarian regime. Hong Kong’s experience proved that a liberal democratic society cannot survive alongside an increasingly aggressive and authoritarian Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime. Taiwan essentially faces the same dilemma.

Hong Kong offers four key insights: First, Hong Kong provides a window through which to understand the modus operandi of Xi Jinping’s CCP. Political priorities trump all others —while CCP actions make sense within the system, they may confuse outsiders. Ultimately, Xi’s words should be taken literally and seriously. Second, the failure of the “one country, two systems” formula and Hong Kong’s collapse should not be lost on Taiwan. The so-called “United Front” tactics and the political polarization that occurred in Hong Kong are being emulated in Taiwan, with the Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) platform feeling increasingly untenable and anachronistic, especially in light of Hong Kong’s experience. Third, the infiltration of Mainland capital into Hong Kong over the past two decades has changed the underlying structure of Hong Kong as a business and financial center. The effect of ‘red’ capital made local Hong Kong and international business voices irrelevant. The authors saw their ability to influence and thereby moderate government policies waned over the years—leading to disastrous consequences for Hong Kong. Finally, Hong Kong has changed the geopolitical landscape in ways that have profound ramifications for Taiwan and how the international community perceives the CCP. The CCP openly walked back on an international treaty registered with the United Nations. The response of the international community and businesses reveals important lessons about the West’s vulnerabilities to this kind of geopolitical shock should the situation over the Taiwan Strait worsen.

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Last updated on 04/27/2022

The Chinese Population Implosion: An Unparalleled Demographic Challenge with Global Consequences

The Chinese Population Implosion: An Unparalleled Demographic Challenge with Global Consequences

Abstract:

Borje Ljunggren, June 2021 

In late May, the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced that couples would be allowed to have three children. As late as 2015, CCP finally gave up its draconic one-child policy, in force since 1979, for a two-child policy, but the number of births soon kept falling. In spite of the two-child policy the fertility rate has in the last few years actually fallen to just 1.3, well below 2.1 births per woman, the level required to maintain a stable population.

The Party is experiencing the recoil effect of its biopolitics. At the turn of the century, China’s population, according to UN World Population Prospects (2019) medium variant, will have fallen to just over 1 billion. The population in 55 countries is expected to decrease during the next few decades, but no other country, with the exception of Iran, has undergone such a rapid and compressed demographic transformation as China, with a rapidly aging population and a diminishing labor supply. The causes are deep-rooted, beyond just launching a three-child policy. The one-child policy also had a tragic impact on the nation’s gender ratio, resulting in an extreme predominance in birth rates for boys and tens of millions of “missing women.” Technological developments with robots and AI will dramatically reduce the effects of China’s declining supply of labor but is seems clear is that the country is facing unique demographic challenges, with global consequences. The shadow that China is casting is growing in complexity!

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Last updated on 06/28/2021

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Immigration Are Needed for the Middle Class

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Immigration Are Needed for the Middle Class

Abstract:

David Dapice, June 2021 

The US population aged 20–65, according to US Census projections, will grow by 355,000 a year this decade, and of that number, only 225,000 new entrants a year will likely be working and increasing the labor force. Yet, even after prepandemic employment is reached later this year or early in 2022, labor demand will continue to grow by millions of jobs far more than will be supplied by new entrants. If immigration policy and automation adjustments are not enough to make up for the deficit, there will be shortages and inflation, forcing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and perhaps cause a recession. Such a recession hurts middle- and working-class families. 

The US has indicated it wishes to compete with China. China has already formed a large trade bloc in Asia, and the obvious alternative—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—was negotiated by the US but was never even put up for approval, lacking support from politicians on both sides of the aisle. Given all this, it is worth asking: is the TPP actually bad for labor and the middle class?

 

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Last updated on 06/07/2021

Risk Mitigation and Creating Social Impact: Chinese Technology Companies in the United States

Citation:

Yu, Wenchi. 2021. “Risk Mitigation and Creating Social Impact: Chinese Technology Companies in the United States.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
Risk Mitigation and Creating Social Impact: Chinese Technology Companies in the United States

Abstract:

Wenchi Yu, April 2021

Chinese technology companies have become a topic of interest to not only the business and investor communities but also increasingly the national security and intelligence communities. Their scale and level of innovation present new possibilities and new competition as well as shape global trends. Yet the relationship of such companies to the Chinese government is often opaque. As a result, their growing integration into the global telecommunications system also casts doubt on their intentions and legitimacy.

This paper reviews key US policy developments under the Trump administration, both broadly toward China and more narrowly relating to trade and technology, and examines the business strategy of four Chinese technology companies operating in the United States. It outlines the benefits of a corporate risk mitigation approach that incorporates social impact creation as an integral part of business and nonmarket strategy for Chinese technology companies, in the United States, and elsewhere. However, this paper also argues that corporate actions can only go so far. Because technology necessarily involves concerns of national security, the role of government—and government cooperation—is essential. It is only through a combination of more locally engaged corporate actions and internationally agreed upon sectoral rules and standard settings that we will be better able to improve transparency and trust-building across borders.

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Last updated on 04/14/2021

Our Path to “New Normal” in Employment? Sobering Clues from China and Recovery Scores for U.S. Industry

Citation:

Cunningham, Edward, and Philip Jordan. 2020. “Our Path to “New Normal” in Employment? Sobering Clues from China and Recovery Scores for U.S. Industry.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

Abstract:

Edward Cunningham and Philip Jordan, July 2020 

The US National jobs reports for May and June exceeded expectations, and for many, this signaled that April was the true peak of American job losses and real recovery may be underway. Yet mounting evidence suggests that a job recovery is a long way off and that many jobs may not return.

Part of the analytic disconnect stems from the fact that the global pandemic is a novel challenge for policymakers and analysts. We lack current, useful benchmarks for estimating the damage to the labor market, for estimating what recovery would look like, and for measuring an eventual recovery in jobs. Given this paucity of models, one place to look for patterns of potential recovery – particularly relating to consumption and mobility – is China.

The Chinese economy is driven largely by consumption, urban job creation is driven by small and medium-sized companies, and China is several months ahead of the US in dealing with the pandemic’s economic and labor impact. An analysis of China’s experience may, therefore, offer important clues about our recovery here at home, and inform new models of thinking about American job recovery.

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Last updated on 10/22/2021

Understanding CCP Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time

Citation:

Cunningham, Edward, Tony Saich, and Jessie Turiel. 2020. Understanding CCP Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time. Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
Understanding CCP Resilience: Surveying Chinese Public Opinion Through Time

Abstract:

Edward Cunningham, Tony Saich, and Jessie Turiel, July 2020

This policy brief reviews the findings of the longest-running independent effort to track Chinese citizen satisfaction of government performance. China today is the world’s second largest economy and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has ruled for some seventy years. Yet long-term, publicly-available, and nationally-representative surveys in mainland China are so rare that it is difficult to know how ordinary Chinese citizens feel about their government.

We find that first, since the start of the survey in 2003, Chinese citizen satisfaction with government has increased virtually across the board. From the impact of broad national policies to the conduct of local town officials, Chinese citizens rate the government as more capable and effective than ever before. Interestingly, more marginalized groups in poorer, inland regions are actually comparatively more likely to report increases in satisfaction. Second, the attitudes of Chinese citizens appear to respond (both positively and negatively) to real changes in their material well-being, which suggests that support could be undermined by the twin challenges of declining economic growth and a deteriorating natural environment.

While the CCP is seemingly under no imminent threat of popular upheaval, it cannot take the support of its people for granted. Although state censorship and propaganda are widespread, our survey reveals that citizen perceptions of governmental performance respond most to real, measurable changes in individuals’ material well-being. For government leaders, this is a double-edged sword, as citizens who have grown accustomed to increases in living standards will expect such improvements to continue, and citizens who praise government officials for effective policies may indeed blame them when such policy failures affect them or their family members directly. While our survey reinforces narratives of CCP resilience, our data also point to specific areas in which citizen satisfaction could decline in today’s era of slowing economic growth and continued environmental degradation.

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Last updated on 07/08/2020

China's Most Generous: Examining Trends in Contemporary Chinese Philanthropy

China's Most Generous: Examining Trends in Contemporary Chinese Philanthropy

Abstract:

Edward Cunningham and Yunxin Li, March 2020 

This annual report highlights leading results from the most recent data analysis of the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center’s China Philanthropy Project, capturing over one-quarter of estimated national giving in China. We focus on elite giving by building an annual database of the top 100 individual donors, top 100 donors from corporations and other organizations, and also top university recipients of philanthropic giving.

In 2018, such Chinese giving:

  • was dominated by large organizations (most commonly corporations) rather than individuals,  
  • supported in large part central government policy priorities in the area of poverty alleviation,
  • revealed an intriguing new philanthropy-driven educational model in the country, and
  • remained fairly local in scope.

Read the report in Chinese 

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Last updated on 05/04/2020

China’s Role in Promoting Transboundary Resource Management in the Greater Mekong Basin (GMB)

Abstract:

Malcolm McPherson, March 2020 

This paper examines how China can improve transboundary resource management within the Greater Mekong Basin (GMB) through its participation in the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC). Such improvement would ensure the efficient management and equitable development of the basin’s natural resources and ecosystems.

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Hong Kong: The Rise and Fall of “One Country, Two Systems”

Abstract:

William H. Overholt, December 2019

This is an extensively edited, updated and expanded text of a lecture given for the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School on October 31, 2019. From the origination of “one country, two systems” in 1979 to today, this paper analyzes the history of the unique relationship between Hong Kong, Beijing, and the world.

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Last updated on 03/31/2020

Vietnam's Crisis of Success in Electricity: Options for Successful Clean Energy Mix

Abstract:

David Dapice, December 2018

As Vietnam looks to the future planning for energy production and use, careful analysis of the cost of the variety of power generation systems that can contribute to a successful energy mix is key. This paper is designed to assist in that effort and in providing information for the research for Power Development Plan 8.

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Local Governance and Access to Urban Services in Asia

Abstract:

Shabbir Cheema, November 2018

This policy brief explores how democratic processes in local governance affect access to urban services in Asian cities, especially for marginalized groups. It is based on research conducted by a group of national research and training institutions in nine cities in five Asian countries as well as regional dialogue hosted and facilitated by East-West Center with the support of the Swedish International Center for Local Democracy (ICLD). Governance process variables investigated were local government resources and capacity; mechanisms for local participation, accountability, and coordination; use of information and communications technology (ICT); implementation and replication of good practices; and management of peri-urbanization. This brief outlines research findings that are applicable across countries at the city level.

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Technology and Governance in Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative

Abstract:

Jun Jie Woo, May 2018 

Decades of rapid economic growth and urbanization in Singapore have given rise to new and increasingly complex policy problems. Singapore’s policymakers have sought to address these problems by leveraging emerging technological solutions such as data analytics. This has culminated in the “Smart Nation” initiative, a nationwide and whole-of-government effort to digitize Singapore’s policy processes and urban environment. More importantly, the initiative has given rise to administrative reorganization and increased state-citizen engagement. These changes portend more fundamental shifts in Singapore’s governing milieu.

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Counting all of the Costs: Choosing the Right Mix of Electricity Sources in Vietnam to 2025

Abstract:

David Dapice, November 2017

How rapidly will or could demand for power grow in Vietnam? What will interest rates be? Will the cost of generating plants go up or down, and by how much? What will the cost of each fuel be? Will the cost of carbon or other pollution begin to enter into investment decisions?

This paper will examine these questions. It will begin by looking at demand projections and investments in efficiency – getting more output per kilowatt hour used. It will then try to estimate the costs of building and running various types of generating plants in Vietnam over time. It will also use various costs of carbon to see if including these both as a source of global warming and as an indicator of local pollution changes the calculation. Changes in the domestic supply of gas will also influence the set of potential solutions, as will the declining costs of solar electricity and battery storage. In all of this it is the system or mix of investments that need to work, not any single investment.

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Last updated on 03/01/2020

Can China Reduce Entrenched Poverty in Remote Ethnic Minority Regions?

Abstract:

Arthur N. Holcombe, June 2017

In this paper Holcombe discusses lessons from successful poverty alleviation in Tibetan areas of China during 1998–2016. In the period between 1978 and 2015, the World Bank estimates that over 700 million people have been raised out of poverty based on a poverty line of $1.50 per capita. It also estimates that about 48 percent of residual poverty in China is located in ethnic minority areas where top-down macroeconomic policies to reduce poverty have been least effective and where strategies to target poor ethnic minority households with additional financial, technical, and other support were not successful in overcom- ing cultural and other barriers to greater income and food security.

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Last updated on 03/01/2020

Values and Vision: Perspectives on Philanthropy in 21st Century China

Abstract:

Anthony Saich & Paula D. Johnson, May 2017

Values and Vision: Perspectives on Philanthropy in 21st Century China is an exploratory study of philanthropic giving among China’s very wealthy citizens. Recognizing the increasing number of successful entrepreneurs engaged in philanthropic activity in China, the study explores the economic and policy contexts in which this philanthropy is evolving; the philanthropic motivations, aspirations and priorities of some of the country’s most engaged philanthropists; and the challenges and opportunities for increasing philanthropic engagement and impact in China.

Chinese (traditional) translation available here

Chinese (simplified) translation available here 

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Last updated on 03/01/2020

Rakhine State: Dangers and Opportunities

Abstract:

David Dapice, May 2017 

The paper provides an updated assessment of the danger that the Rakhine state conflict poses to all of Myanmar in terms of cost in lives, international reputation, depressed FDI, ongoing violence and sectarian conflict. The author makes the case that settling the issue will require a strategy that extends beyond restoring security, one that offers a real possibility of success at a political and economic level. He offers that the path forward lies in enabling moderate local and central leaders to bring about a new idea of citizenship, enhancing local socio-economic prospects by investing in roads, power and irrigation, as well as by restricting illegal foreign fishing off the cost of Rakhine, and by extending health and education services throughout the province to all residents.

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Last updated on 03/01/2020

Rakhine State: In Need of Fundamental Solutions

Abstract:

David Dapice, February 2017, revised April 2017

In this paper, David Dapice, considers the factors that are at the heart of the instability in Rakhine state and suggests options for approaching citizenship and mobility issues and for overcoming the constraints on implementing development in the state.

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Last updated on 03/01/2020

Health Education in China's Factories: A Case of Embedded Education

Citation:

Zhang, Siwen, Hua Chen, Songyu Zhu, Jorrit de Jong, and Guy Stuart. 2017. “Health Education in China's Factories: A Case of Embedded Education”.

Abstract:

Siwen Zhang, Hua Chen, Songyu Zhu, Jorrit de Jong, and Guy Stuart, January 2017 

This case study focuses on HERhealth, the health education program within the HERproject as it was implemented in China from 2007 onwards . Based on reports supplied by BSR this case study documents the health education and its effects on the behavior of women who received the education in terms of improved reproductive health, personal hygiene, and safe sex practices.

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Last updated on 08/25/2021

HIV/AIDS Prevention on Southern China's Road Projects: A Case of Embedded Education

Citation:

Zhang, Siwen, Hua Chen, Songyu Zhu, Jorrit de Jong, and Guy Stuart. 2017. “HIV/AIDS Prevention on Southern China's Road Projects: A Case of Embedded Education”.

Abstract:

Siwen Zhang, Hua Chen, Songyu Zhu, Jorrit de Jong, and Guy Stuart, January 2017  

This is a case study of the Asia Development Bank (ADB)-sponsored HIV/AIDS prevention program implemented at expressway construction sites in Guangxi province from 2008 to 2015 . The program delivered HIV/AIDS prevention education to migrant workers working at the sites, as well as to members of the communities near the sites.

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Internal and External Challenges to Unity in Myanmar

Abstract:

David Dapice, December 2016 

A year after the election that gave an historical victory to the National League for Democracy, Myanmar faces a critical juncture. Ethnic war and religious strife stubbornly remain, democratic gains remain fragile and major challenges, from mineral and hydroelectric revenues, to land insecurity, to illicit drug production and use have yet to be tackled meaningfully. In foreign policy, a resurgent China has indicated that it intends to play an active role in settling conflicts along its border and perhaps further afield. Meanwhile, an expectant public looks for signs of progress from a new government that is still finding its way. This paper argues that the internal and external challenges faced by Myanmar are linked, and suggests that economic progress, unity and effective independence will remain elusive (or could decline) unless the leadership explores pragmatic solutions to ethnic and religious grievances and produces economic growth that is high, sustainable, and widely shared. Click here to read in Burmese version

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Last updated on 01/24/2020
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Assessing the U.S. Treasury Department’s Allocations of Funding for Tribal Governments under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Assessing the U.S. Treasury Department’s Allocations of Funding for Tribal Governments under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Abstract:

Eric C. Henson, Miriam R. Jorgensen, Joseph P. Kalt, & Isabelle G. Leonaitis; November 2021  

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“the Act” or “ARPA”) has resulted in the single largest infusion of federal funding for Native America in U.S. history. The core of this funding is $20 billion for the more than 570 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments. As required by the Act, the Department of the Treasury (“Treasury” or “the Department”) devised and has now implemented a formula for allocating these monies. In this report, the authors find that the allocations that have been made are grossly inequitable and contrary to the policy objectives of Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Treasury Department itself.

 

This study uses publicly available information to estimate enrollment and employment counts for tribes. These figures are only estimates created for the express purpose of analyzing the appropriateness of the US Department of the Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Act allocations. Our estimates have not and cannot be verified against actual enrollment or employment data submitted to the Department of Treasury by each tribe.  We believe the estimates are as accurate as possible and reliable for the purpose of assessing the relative positions of tribes under Treasury’s ARPA allocations, but should not be extracted and used as accurate for any individual tribe or for any purpose other than how they are used here.

 

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Last updated on 11/08/2021

Federal COVID‐19 Response Funding for Tribal Governments: Lessons from the CARES Act

Citation:

Henson, Eric C., Megan M. Hill, Miriam R. Jorgensen, and Joseph P. Kalt. 2021. “Federal COVID‐19 Response Funding for Tribal Governments: Lessons from the CARES Act”.
Federal COVID‐19 Response Funding for Tribal Governments: Lessons from the CARES Act

Abstract:

The federal response to the COVID19 pandemic has played out in varied ways over the past several months. For Native nations, the CARES Act (i.e., the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) has been the most prominent component of this response to date. Title V of the Act earmarked $8 billion for tribes and was allocated in two rounds, with many disbursements taking place in May and June of this year.

This federal response has been critical for many tribes because of the lower socioeconomic starting points for their community members as compared to nonIndians. Even before the pandemic, the average income of a reservationresident Native American household was barely half that of the average U.S. household. Low average incomes, chronically high unemployment rates, and dilapidated or nonexistent infrastructure are persistent challenges for tribal communities and tribal leaders. Layering extremely high coronavirus incidence rates (and the effective closure of many tribal nations’ entire economies2) on top of these already challenging circumstances presented tribal governments with a host of new concerns. In other words, at the same time tribal governments’ primary resources were decimated (i.e., the earnings of tribal governmental gaming and nongaming enterprises dried up), the demands on tribes increased. They needed these resources to fight the pandemic and to continue to meet the needs of tribal citizens.

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Last updated on 01/07/2022

Emerging Stronger than Before: Guidelines for the Federal Role in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes’ Recovery from the COVID‐19 Pandemic

Emerging Stronger than Before: Guidelines for the Federal Role in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes’ Recovery from the COVID‐19 Pandemic

Abstract:

The COVID‐19 pandemic has wrought havoc in Indian Country. While the American people as a whole have borne extreme pain and suffering, and the transition back to “normal” will be drawn out and difficult, the First Peoples of America arguably have suffered the most severe and most negative consequences of all. The highest rates of positive COVID‐19 cases have been found among American Indian tribes, but that is only part of the story.

Even before the pandemic, the average household income for Native Americans living on Indian reservations was barely half the U.S. average. Then the pandemic effectively shut down the economies of many tribal nations. In the process, tribal governments’ primary sources of the funding – which are needed to fight the pandemic and to meet citizens’ needs – have been decimated.

As with the rest of the U.S., emergency and interim support from the CARES Act and other federal measures have helped to dampen the social and economic harm of the COVID‐19 crisis in Indian Country. Yet this assistance has come to the country’s 574 federally recognized Indian tribes with litigation‐driven delay and counterproductive strings attached, and against a pre‐ pandemic background characterized by federal government underfunding and neglect – especially as compared to the funding provided and attention paid to state and local governments.

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Last updated on 01/07/2022

Recommendations for Allocation and Administration of American Rescue Plan Act Funding for American Indian Tribal Governments

Recommendations for Allocation and Administration of American Rescue Plan Act Funding for American Indian Tribal Governments

Abstract:

Eric C. Henson, Megan Hill, Miriam R. Jorgensen, and Joseph P. Kalt; April 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides the largest infusion of federal funding for Indian Country in the history of the United States. More than $32 billion dollars is directed toward assisting American Indian nations and communities as they work to end and recover from the devastating COVID19 pandemic – which was made worse in Indian Country precisely because such funding is long overdue.

In this policy brief, we set out recommendations which we hope will promote the wise and productive allocation of ARPA funds to the nation’s 574 federally recognized American Indian tribes. We see ARPA as a potential “Marshall Plan” for the revitalization of Indian nations. The Act holds the promise of materially remedying at least some of the gross, documented, and long-standing underfunding of federal obligations and responsibilities in Indian Country. Yet, fulfilling that promise requires that the federal government expeditiously and wisely allocate ARPA funds to tribes, and that tribes efficiently and effectively deploy those funds to maximize their positive impacts on tribal communities.

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Last updated on 06/07/2021

Emerging Stronger than Before: Guidelines for the Federal Role in American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes’ Recovery from the COVID‐19 Pandemic

Abstract:

Eric C. Henson, Megan M. Hill, Miriam R. Jorgensen & Joseph P. Kalt; July 2020 

In this policy brief, we offer guidelines for federal policy reform that can fulfill the United States’ trust responsibility to tribes, adhere to the deepest principles of self‐governance upon which the country is founded, respect and build the governing capacities of tribes, and in the process, enable tribal nations to emerge from this pandemic stronger than they were before. We believe that the most‐needed federal actions are an expansion of tribal control over tribal affairs and territories and increased funding for key investments in tribal communities. 

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Last updated on 06/07/2021

Dissecting the US Treasury Department’s Round 1 Allocations of CARES Act COVID‐19 Relief Funding for Tribal Governments

Abstract:

Randall K.Q. Akee, Eric C. Henson, Miriam R. Jorgensen, and Joseph P. Kalt; May 2020 

This study dissects the US Department of the Treasury’s formula for distributing first-round CARES Act funds to Indian Country. The Department has indicated that its formula is intended to allocate relief funds based on tribes’ populations, but the research team behind this report finds that Treasury has employed a population data series that produces arbitrary and capricious “over-” and “under-representations” of tribes’ enrolled citizens.

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Last updated on 10/20/2021

Policy Memo Regarding the Allocation of COVID-19 Response Funds to American Indian Nations

Citation:

Akee, Randall K.Q., Joseph P. Kalt, Eric C. Henson, and Miriam Jorgenson. 2020. “Policy Memo Regarding the Allocation of COVID-19 Response Funds to American Indian Nations”.
Policy Memo Regarding the Allocation of COVID-19 Response Funds to American Indian Nations

Abstract:

The COVID-19 crisis poses an immediate threat to three decades of improvement in economic conditions across Indian Country. Federal policies of tribal self-determination through self government have gradually, if unevenly, allowed economic development to take hold in Indian County. Nevertheless, the poverty gap for American Indians is large and hard to close. American Indian/Alaska Native household incomes remain barely half that of the typical household in the US. Tribes now routinely undertake and self-fund the full array of basic governmental services – from law enforcement and public safety to social services and educational support – that we expect any state or local government to provide.

Tribes lack the traditional tax bases enjoyed by state and local governments. Tribal enterprise revenues – both gaming and non-gaming – are tribes’ effective tax bases. Prior to the total shutdown of their casinos, tribes’ gaming enterprises alone were channeling more than $12.5 billion per year into tribal government programs and services . No tribal casinos are operating at this time. The same applies to many non-gaming enterprises and many tribal government programs. The COVID-19 crisis is devastating tribes’ abilities to fund their provision of basic governmental services and forcing tribes to make painful decisions to lay off employees, drop workers’ insurance coverage, deplete assets, and/or take on more debt.
 

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Last updated on 01/12/2022