Publications

1991

Electronic Benefit System: Ramsey County, MN – 1990 Innovations Winner

When banks in Ramsey County (Saint Paul), Minnesota decide to stop cashing welfare checks, the county faces a crisis. It must continue to provide a way for welfare recipients to receive their benefits. Yet it has exhausted the standard means of doing so. This Innovations in State and Local Government case follows the course of Ramsey County’s decision to adopt a radically different benefits delivery system – the use of an ATM (automatic teller machine) card which will allow welfare recipients to draw down their account at a variety of locations, at their own convenience. Officials in the Community Human Services Department gain acceptance of this idea, however, not because of its innovative quality but because they convince county officials it will provide the service at no increase in cost. This case provides a vehicle for discussion of the nature of public sector innovation and the forces that drive or constrain it. It raises the following question, as well: At a time when information technologies are making everything from mail orders to credit card replacement “user friendly,“ will government find ways to adapt these technologies to aid in delivering its services?

Seattle Recycling Program: Seattle, WA – 1990 Innovations Winner

When the Seattle Solid Waste Utility, the department responsible for trash pick-up and disposal, moved during 1988-90 to introduce curbside recycling and other dramatic changes in garbage collection, director Diana Gale believed presentation of the utility's plans to the press would be crucial to their prospects for public acceptance. This case recounts the elaborate but successful strategies Gale employed, ranging from training sessions for utility employees run by former television news anchors, to the advent of the utility's own weekly newsletter to track problems and changes in the new garbage program. The case is designed both to allow for discussion of what makes for effective or ineffective relations between the public manager and the press, and to raise questions about the relative motivations of each party. In addition, the case can be used to pose the question of what methods are appropriate for a public agency to use in presenting its program initiatives to the public – and whether it is a necessary or proper use of funds when public agencies employ public relations and advertising tactics.

Seattle Recycling Program: Seattle, WA – 1990 Innovations Winner

The closing of two landfill sites creates a municipal crisis in Seattle, forced to find new disposal options for the 2,000 tons of garbage it produces each day. Political concerns over what appears to be the most practical disposal option – construction of a major municipal incinerator – prompts the city’s Solid Waste Utility to undertake an innovative study to examine the extent to which recycling could minimize the city’s trash disposal needs. This case broadly examines the “Recycling Potential and Disposal Options“ study with an eye toward understanding the relationship between the political process and the techniques of public policy analysis. The case is designed to frame questions as to the proper relationship between policy analyst and elected official, and the ways in which analysis is constrained, properly or improperly, by political considerations.

1989

Kentucky Video Courts: Kentucky – 1988 Innovations Winner

When a shortage of court reporters threatens to delay trials and back up the appeals process, Kentucky's Administrative Office of the Courts considers new technology as a solution to its problem. Video ”transcripts” of court proceedings hold the potential to sidestep the labor problem plaguing the courts. The use of video cameras to record court proceedings raises questions, however. Would a video record truly provide as useful a product as a written transcript? Would judges – and the courts themselves – accept video as a legal record? Director Don Cetrulo of the Administrative Office of the Courts, intrigued by the promise of video, must ponder both its implications – and the fact that no proven automatic camera technology existed in the mid-1980s that could adapt to the multiplicity of speakers and locations. Before he can reach the point of considering the legal impact of video court reporting, Cetrulo must decide whether to go so far as to award state funds to a local manufacturer who believes he can devise such a system.

Kentucky Video Courts: Kentucky – 1988 Innovations Winner

When a shortage of court reporters threatens to delay trials and back up the appeals process, Kentucky's Administrative Office of the Courts considers new technology as a solution to its problem. Video ”transcripts” of court proceedings hold the potential to sidestep the labor problem plaguing the courts. The use of video cameras to record court proceedings raises questions, however. Would a video record truly provide as useful a product as a written transcript? Would judges – and the courts themselves – accept video as a legal record? Director Don Cetrulo of the Administrative Office of the Courts, intrigued by the promise of video, must ponder both its implications – and the fact that no proven automatic camera technology existed in the mid-1980s that could adapt to the multiplicity of speakers and locations. Before he can reach the point of considering the legal impact of video court reporting, Cetrulo must decide whether to go so far as to award state funds to a local manufacturer who believes he can devise such a system.

Project Match: Illinois – 1988 Innovations Winner

Located in one of the most troubled housing projects in Chicago, the job training program known as Project Match has an unusual approach to the task of bringing welfare recipients into the world of work. Rather than trying to broker a simple job placement, the program tries to encourage long-term change in the habits and living style of its hard-to-place population, in part by creating a social atmosphere in which work and ambition are valued. But because it receives funds from the Illinois Department of Public Aid, Project Match finds itself under pressure to produce job-placement results which demonstrate its success. The program itself urges authorities to find ways to quantify success besides simply finding someone a job – and places a premium on keeping track of those it’s trying to help, long after a first job placement. The case highlights the challenges of social service program evaluation, as well as the problems an innovative agency has explaining itself to traditional bureaucracies with which it must deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1988

Wetland Wastewater Treatment: Arcata, CA – 1987 Innovations Winner

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

Wetland Wastewater Treatment: Arcata, CA – 1987 Innovations Winner

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

1987

Strive Toward Excellence in Performance: Minnesota – 1986 Innovations Winner

On February 13, 1984, Minnesota Commissioner of Administration Sandra J. Hale told a group of some 200 state managers that her department would soon launch a program to improve the ”effectiveness and productivity” of state government. Hale and many other government leaders believed that past initiatives – usually focused either on cost-cutting or on management schemes developed by private sector executives – had failed to generate significant, lasting change in the performance of state government. She christened the new program ”STEP” (Strive Toward Excellence and Productivity, later renamed Strive Toward Excellence in Performance) specifically to distinguish it from a 1971 productivity initiative called ”LEAP” (the Loaned Executive Action Program), which was still remembered bitterly by many state workers. STEP would rely on ideas generated within the bureaucracy, Hale told the managers, and would create more cooperative partnerships between the public and private sectors. This decision-forcing case focuses on administrators charged with the task of designing the STEP program and challenges students to consider how to institutionalize innovation in government. Students will be asked to identify the political and institutional obstacles to innovative management and to consider what it would take to authorize – and galvanize – managers to approach their divisions in fresh, creative ways.

Case Management for At-Risk Children in Detention: New York, NY – 1986 Innovations Winner

This “Innovations in State and Local Government“ case begins in January 1983, when Ellen Schall is appointed commissioner of New York City’s Department of Juvenile Justice, an agency in upheaval. DJJ was established to detain seven- to fifteen-year-old children between arrest and adjudication. Most of DJJ’s charges are held in a 25-year-old secure detention facility called “Spofford,“ a notoriously violent and dilapidated facility in the South Bronx. The case describes the situation as Schall walks into it. In addition to internal tensions and significant operational problems in every division, the agency has a history of bad press and feuds with City Hall. The department is also struggling with deep-seated racial and class tensions among employees, and with great confusion over its mission. The case ends with Schall planning to speak to a new group of juvenile counselors, trying to articulate her vision for the agency. The case offers students the chance to diagnose the ills of the agency and to chart a strategic course of action. Among the topics for debate: How should Schall go about assembling an executive team? How should she address the confusion over agency mission? What should she do about racial tensions? How involved should she get with the nitty-gritty operational problems of her agency’s divisions?

One Church/One Child Minority Adoption Campaign: Illinois – 1986 Innovations Winner

In 1980, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services faced a crisis. Over 700 black children in Cook County, including 69 infants, waited for adoption while the agency was unable to find black parents. Director Gregory L. Color, with his deputy gordon Johnson, approached Father George Clements, a black activist Chicago priest in the Baptist community. From those meetings came One Church, One Child, a plan to use pastors of the black churches as spokesmen to reach the community. Coler and Johnson faced several hurdles as they asked a private religious institution to help solve a public agency’s problem. They had to change negative attitudes both in the black community; which had grown to distrust the state agency, and among a staff suspicious of change who would implement the black adoption program. They had to revamp state laws that inhibited the adoption process. And they had to change bureaucratic procedures that had proven ineffective. The accompanying video exhibit brings to life the successful strategy of the One Church, One Child program, focusing on a presentation in a black church designed to encourage adoptions. In addition, the video includes retrospective comments from the program's administrators and vignettes of families who have adopted children as a result of the program. This case will challenge students to examine the assumptions that limit bureaucracies. Available in Spanish translation.

Strive Toward Excellence in Performance: Minnesota – 1986 Innovations Winner

When Denise Fleury left the insurance industry to become head of the Minnesota Office of State Claims in June 1984, she knew the job would be challenging. Recent changes in state law had changed and broadened the mission of the state claims office, which administered workers’ compensation benefits for all state employees. Fleury soon found herself scrambling to cope with day-to-day crises while trying to take on a host of new tasks. Through Fleury’s eyes, students will see the dilemmas that confronted the young manager and how she tackled them during her first year. This part of the case is a good introduction to how a manager creates organizational capacity. They will also see that at the end of her first year – despite significant progress – internal office procedures remained frustrating and confusing. The case ends here, giving students the chance to discuss what Fleury should do next, and how she might use various resources strategically in State Claims. This case provides an interesting counterpart to Striving Toward Excellence in the State of Minnesota (C16-87-737.0). In the Denise Fleury case, from the perspective of a mid-level manager, students can take another look at STEP as it was actually developed, to see whether it looks like a useful and attractive resource.

1986
In the fall of 1986, the World Bank offered the government of Indonesia a loan of approximately US $200-250 million for highway construction in the capital city of Jakarta and the country's other four largest urban centers. It was an attractive proposal: plummeting world oil prices had squeezed the national treasury, which had derived about 60 percent of its revenues from Indonesian oil profits. But for much the same reason, Indonesia's Ministry of Finance felt compelled to find new revenue sources to repay the loan. 

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