Using online tools to engage citizens: An interview with Matt Leighninger, Deliberative Democracy Consortium – Episode #14

Matt LeighningerMatt Leighninger is the Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and the author of the recent report for public managers, “Using Online Tools to Engage – and be Engaged by –The Public” published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. The motivation behind the report: While many federal and state agencies are striving to engage with citizens using online tools and e-government, many public managers find themselves unfamiliar with what tactics and tools work best under different scenarios.


Making telework work: An interview with Scott Overmyer – Episode #13

Scott Overmyer

What does it take to make telework a successful tool for public agencies and workers? To explore that question, we’re joined by Scott Overmyer. He’s the author of the IBM Center for The Business of Government report Implementing Telework: Lessons Learned from Four Federal Agencies. The report offers practical implementation advice to agency leaders and front-line managers.

As background, the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 expands telework opportunities to over one million federal workers. Today federal agencies are working to implement that law, while state and local officials are also findings ways to promote telework. Telework — working outside of the office — has the potential to save billions of taxpayer dollars along with other benefits.

Policy strategies to prevent unintended pregnancy: An interview with Adam Thomas, Georgetown University – Episode #12

Adam ThomasAlmost half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended and the women and children involved in these pregnancies are disproportionately likely to experience a range of negative outcomes. For insights into cost-effective policy strategies to reduce unintended pregnancy, my guest is Adam Thomas, a professor at Georgetown University and the former Research Director for the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families. His recent article in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management — as well as a Brookings policy brief— focus on three evidenced-based strategies to prevent unintended pregnancy and the results from fiscal impact simulations of those strategies. His findings have implications for both federal and state policymakers.

Making public-sector performance reporting useful: An interview with Jeff Tryens, New York City Mayor’s Office – Episode #11

Jeff Tryens is the Deputy Director for Performance Management in the Mayor’s Office in New York, under Michael Bloomberg. He is responsible for reporting overall city government performance and initiating cross-agency performance improvement initiatives. Prior to that role, Jeff  was the Executive Director of the Oregon Progress Board from 1995 to 2005. In that role, he helped oversee Oregon’s strategic vision, known as Oregon Shines as well as its 90 indicators of social, economic and environmental health known as Oregon Benchmarks. Those efforts helped Oregon became a leader in performance reporting.

Web extra: Jeff Tryens talks about his current work in New York City, including what is unique about New York City’s performance reporting, including the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR) [click here].

Breaking down silos and boosting results through HUDStat: An interview with Lisa Danzig, Department of Housing and Urban Development – Episode #10

Lisa DanzigThe U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has 9,000 employees and a $46 billion budget. How does the agency focus its numerous staff and diverse programs on critical goals? It uses HUDStat, launched in 2010.

Each quarter, key staff related to each goal from various departments within HUD come to a HUDStat meeting, led by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, to review performance data and discuss ways to boost results. By having detailed data at hand, the participants can understand what’s working and what’s not. By having key staff all in one room, questions can get answered quickly. Each HUDStat meeting produces specific action items that are then reviewed in the next meeting.

HUD currently has seven priority goals, including ones related to homelessness, foreclosure, and energy efficiency. That means there are seven HUDStat meetings per quarter, each focusing on a different goal.

In some ways, HUDStat is similar to other “PerformanceStat” initiatives such as CitiStat in Baltimore. In other ways, it is relatively unique, including the fact that meetings focus on cross-agency goals (not specific departments) and that the agency Secretary leads the meetings rather than one of his deputies.

To learn more about HUDStat, we’re joined by Lisa Danzig, the Director of Strategic Planning and Management for HUD.

A note to listeners: The audio is choppy in a few places due to the connection.   


Web extras: Lisa Danzig discusses…

  • her advice to federal, state, or local agency leaders who are interested in adopting a HUDStat-like initiative [click here].
  • a benefit of tabulating and sharing data through the HUDStat process: positive “peer pressure” to increase results [click here].
  • the motivation behind the launch of HUDStat [click here].
  • HUD’s current priority goals (recall that each HUDStat meeting focuses on a different goal, with every goal covered once per quarter) [click here].
  • staff work involved in preparing for HUDStat meetings and some upcoming advances in the model [click here].

Outcome budgeting in Baltimore: An interview with Andrew Kleine, budget director – Episode #9

Andrew KleineA growing trend among cities and states in the U.S. is outcome budgeting. Baltimore began using outcome budgeting in Fiscal Year 2011 under the leadership of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her budget director — and our guest on the Gov Innovator blog — Andrew Kleine. The results include more dollars to high-value programs, the reduction or elimination of low-value programs, and new thinking and innovation in the delivery of services to citizens.

Web extra: Andrew Kleine gives advice to jurisdictions that may be considering implementing outcome budgeting, including the use of consultants and also staffing issues [click here].

Results-focused city government through SomerStat: An interview with Joseph Curtatone, Mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts – Episode #8

Mayor CurtatoneAt about 4 square miles large, with a population of about 80,000, Somerville shows other smaller jurisdictions that don’t need to be a big city to have a sophisticated performance improvement focus. For larger jurisdictions, including our biggest U.S. cities, Somerville’s experience presents a challenge: If it can develop such a robust data-driven management focus, then cities with much larger resources should be able to as well.

Among Somerville’s innovations, probably the best known is SomerStat. It has a staff of four who study financial, personnel, and operational data to understand what’s happening within city departments. Then, about every two months for bigger agencies (I mistakenly said weeks in the video intro), and less frequently for smaller agencies, each department leadership team comes to a SomerStat meeting to meet with the mayor’s staff—often including the mayor himself—to review detailed performance data and discuss ways to improve.

In the meetings, the department director stands behind a podium and presents a PowerPoint presentation on detailed aspects of department performance to the mayor and his staff. It’s not a one-sided presentation, but rather a lively and detailed discussion involving questions and direction for that department leader and his or her senior staff in the room.

To learn more about SomerStat, we’re joined by Joseph Curtatone (@JoeCurtatone), the mayor of Somerville, who launched SomerStat after being first elected in 2004. Today he is in his fifth term.

Web extra: To better understand SomerStat, here are some example presentations from actual SomerStat meetings from previous years. They are from departments relating to capital projectsconstituent services, fire, IT, police, and recreation.

NYC’s small high schools initiative: An interview with Rebecca Unterman, MDRC – Episode #7

Rebecca UntermanRebecca Unterman is a research associate at MDRC and coauthor (with Howard Bloom) of MDRC’s four-year impact study of New York City’s “small schools of choice,” an evaluation funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as other philanthropies.

As background, during the past decade New York City undertook a large scale high school reform effort that involved closing 23 large failing high schools and opening more than 200 new small high schools – each with different missions, structures, and student selection criteria. At the heart of the reform were 123 small, academically nonselective public high schools. MDRC researchers call them “small schools of choice” (SSC) because of their small size and the fact that they do not screen students based on their academic backgrounds.

MDRC’s evaluation uses random assignment (lotteries of students into schools), allowing it to rigorously estimate the effects of enrolling in an SSC versus enrolling in some other New York City public high school. With a sample size of over 21,000 students, it is a large-scale study and one that has important implications for education reform in the U.S.

Web extra: Rebecca Unterman explains MDRC’s next steps in its evaluation of small schools of choice in New York City [click here].

Comprehensive early childhood services through Smart Start in North Carolina: An interview with Stephanie Fanjul, Smart Start – Episode #6

Stephanie FanjulStephanie Fanjul is the Executive Director of Smart Start in North Carolina. Smart Start was created in 1993 by Governor Jim Hunt as an innovative way to tackle an important problem: Children were coming to school unprepared to learn. A related challenge was that childcare in North Carolina was poorly financed, fragmented, and often low quality.

Now almost 20 years later, Smart Start provides funding to local programs that serve children under 6 and their families in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Its annual budget is around $200 million – mostly state funds, with about 10% raised privately. It’s been called the most ambitious large-scale effort to build a comprehensive system of early childhood services in the United States.

Web extras: 

  • Stephanie Fanjul gives her advice to state officials elsewhere in the U.S. who may be interested in starting an initiative like Smart Start [click here].
  • She describes the role of the business community in Smart Start [click here].

StateStat in Maryland: An interview with Beth Blauer, State of Maryland – Episode #5

Beth BlauerStateStat is part of a broader, growing movement of “Stat” initiatives. It all started in the early 1990s when the New York City Policy Department, under William Bratton, launched CompStat. Martin O’Malley took the idea to the city level as mayor of Baltimore with CitiStat — an initiative that won the 2004 Innovations in American Government award.

When O’Malley became Governor in 2007, he launched StateStat. State agencies come to StateStat meetings twice a month, on average, reviewing their performance and discussing efforts to improve their results.

StateStat - 2012 (photo by Andy Feldman)At the time of this interview, Beth Blauer was the Director of StateStat in Maryland for Governor Martin O’Malley. In her role she oversaw the StateStat process, covering 14 state agencies that comprise 85% of the state budget. A Maryland native and a lawyer by training, she served in Maryland state government for a decade and was StateStat’s director since 2008. In August 2012 she left Maryland government to begin a new role in the private sector.