Capstone Courses and Projects

Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project

Myrtle Avenue Plaza Maintenance and Programming
The Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project (MARP) faces budgeting maintenance and designing programming challenges for their soon-to-be-constructed plaza at Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Business Improvement District (BID). The Capstone team was engaged to draft a detailed maintenance budget and a programming manual for the 20,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza. As a result, the team developed the budget with scenario analysis by reviewing materials from the Plaza's public design workshops, physical plans, available kiosk proposals from other BIDs, and city regulations related to concession stands. Additionally, the team gathered programming ideas through a community survey on local merchants and residents, and conducted interviews with staff from other BIDs and Plaza Program staff at the NYC Department of Transportation. The team also explored sponsorship and other revenue generating opportunities to pay for programming and maintenance.

New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations

Unit Cost Reporting in New York City Government
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations aims to enhance the cost effectiveness of City agencies, and publicly reports City agency performance data in the Mayor’s Management Report. The Capstone team analyzed the current use of agency unit cost performance data, and developed recommendations to link budget and performance through unit cost indicators. The Capstone team first reviewed literature pertaining to performance measurement, unit cost and cost accounting in government. An analysis of unit cost data generated by eleven agencies for the period 2003-2012 revealed a general upward trend in unit costs. A survey of these agencies at the management and analyst levels found that unit cost data are important for making budgetary decisions and are relatively less important for public reporting. Lastly, the Capstone team engaged a select group of agencies to improve the calculation and usefulness of unit cost indicators.

Washington, D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education

District of Columbia Special Education: Linking Financing to Outcomes
The Division of Special Education (DSE) in Washington, D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) oversees special education within the D.C. Public Schools and Public Charter Schools. In 2011, D.C. adopted the Funding for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Amendment Act, emphasizing transparency in special education spending. Concurrently, Mayor Vincent Gray introduced a new funding incentive focused on increasing special education programming, with a requirement for schools to report more detailed expenditures than in prior years. The DSE enlisted the Capstone team to examine how the funding incentive affected expenditures and special education student performance. The team compiled and analyzed special education Maintenance of Effort reports and No Child Left Behind student-level performance data to determine if reporting requirements were met, and to explore correlations between expenditures and student performance. Additionally, the team provided recommendations on data collection and performance measurement strategies that will allow OSSE to better determine causal relationships in the future.