Governance

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics
Cambridge University Press.

Egan, Patrick J.
07/22/2013

Americans consistently name Republicans as the party better at handling issues like national security and crime, while they trust Democrats on issues like education and the environment – a phenomenon called “issue ownership.” Partisan Priorities investigates the origins of issue ownership, showing that in fact the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, Patrick J. Egan finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power. Since the parties tend to be particularly ideologically rigid on the issues they own, politicians actually tend to ignore citizens' preferences when crafting policy on these issues. Thus, issue ownership distorts the relationship between citizens' preferences and public policies.

Reimagining Governance in Practice: Benchmarking British Columbia’s Citizen Engagement Efforts

Reimagining Governance in Practice: Benchmarking British Columbia’s Citizen Engagement Efforts
The GovLab, May 2013

Andrew Young, Christina Rogawski, Sabeel Rahman, and Stefaan Verhulst
05/01/2013

Over the last few years, the Government of British Columbia (BC), Canada has initiated a variety of practices and policies aimed at providing more legitimate and effective governance. Leveraging advances in technology, the BC Government has focused on changing how it engages with its citizens with the goal of optimizing the way it seeks input and develops and implements policy. The efforts are part of a broader trend among a wide variety of democratic governments to re-imagine public service and governance.

At the beginning of 2013, BC’s Ministry of Citizens’ Services and Open Government, now the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, partnered with the GovLab to produce “Reimagining Governance in Practice: Benchmarking British Columbia’s Citizen Engagement Efforts.”  The GovLab’s May 2013 report, made public today, makes clear that BC’s current practices to create a more open government, leverage citizen engagement to inform policy decisions, create new innovations, and provide improved public monitoring­—though in many cases relatively new—are consistently among the strongest examples at either the provincial or national level.

According to Stefaan Verhulst, Chief of Research at the GovLab : “Our benchmarking study found that British Columbia’s various initiatives and experiments to create a more open and participatory governance culture has made it a leader in how to re-imagine governance. Leadership, along with the elimination of imperatives that may limit further experimentation, will be critical moving forward. And perhaps even more important, as with all initiatives to re-imaging governance worldwide, much more evaluation of what works, and why, will be needed to keep strengthening the value proposition behind the new practices and polices and provide proof-of-concept.”

Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data

Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data
Aspen Institute (January 2013)

Noveck, Beth Simone and Daniel Goroff
01/01/2013

This report addresses the challenges to obtaining better, more usable data about the nonprofit sector to match the sector’s growing importance. In 2010, there were 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the United States with $1.51 trillion in revenues. Through the Form 990 in its several varieties, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gathers and publishes a large amount of information about tax-exempt organizations. Over time, versions of the Form 990 have evolved that collect information on governance, investments, and other factors not directly related to an organization’s tax calculations or qualifications for tax exemption. Copies of these returns are available one at a time from the filers or from other sources. The IRS creates image files of Form 990 returns and sells compilationsof them to the subscribing public for a fee. Several institutions, particularly GuideStar, the Foundation Center, and the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) at the Urban Institute, use this IRS data to analyze and present information about individual nonprofits and about the sector as a whole.

Like other important data collected by governments, information contained in the 990s could potentially be far more useful if it were not only public but “open” data. Open data are data that are available to all, free of charge, in a standard format, published without proprietary conditions, and available online as a bulk download rather than only through single-entry lookup. Making the Form 990 data truly open in this sense would not only make it easier to use for the organizations that already process it, but would also make it useful to researchers, advocates, entrepreneurs, technologists, and nonprofits that do not have the resources to use the data in its current form. We argue that open 990 data may increase transparency for nonprofit organizations, making it easier for state and federal authorities to detect fraud, spur innovation in the nonprofit sector and, above all, help us to understand the potential value of the 990 data.

Performance Measurement and Evaluation Systems: Institutionalizing Accountability for Governmental Results in Latin America

Performance Measurement and Evaluation Systems: Institutionalizing Accountability for Governmental Results in Latin America
In S. Kushner & E. Rotondo (Eds.), Evaluation voices from Latin America. New Directions for Evaluation, 134, 77–91.

Cunill-Grau, N., & Ospina, S. M.
06/08/2012

Results-based performance measurement and evaluation (PME) systems are part of a global current in public administration. In the Latin American context, this trend is also a reflection of the broader processes of reform of the latter half of the 20th century, including the modernization of public administration, as well as broad processes of decentralization and democratization, both of which are dimensions of development in Latin America, regardless of the political and ideological orientation of specific governments. This chapter documents the development of such evaluative approaches to organizational quality and raises some issues for further discussion.

The Political Economy of Public Sector Governance

The Political Economy of Public Sector Governance
Cambridge University Press, March 2012. ISBN 9780521736640.

Anthony Michael Bertelli
03/01/2012

This book provides a general, nontechnical introduction to core ideas in positive political theory as they apply to public management and policy. Anthony Michael Bertelli helps readers understand public-sector governance arrangements and their implications for public management practice policy outcomes. By offering a framework that applies to specific administrative tasks, The Political Economy of Public Sector Governance allows readers to think clearly about many aspects of the modern administrative state and how they fit into a larger project of governance.

Budget Slack, Institutions, and Transparency

Budget Slack, Institutions, and Transparency
Public Administration Review 72(2): 187-95

Rose, Shanna, and Daniel L. Smith.
03/01/2012

Economic theory suggests that it is optimal for governments to use precautionary saving as a countercyclical tool. However, the availability of surplus funds often triggers political pressure for tax cuts and spending increases. Mechanisms for alleviating that pressure include limiting the transparency of slack resources and limiting politicians' discretion to use slack resources for purposes other than stabilization. This article investigates the extent to which these two mechanisms are substitutes. In particular, the authors examine whether the widespread adoption of budget stabilization funds (BSFs) in the U.S. states over the past several decades has been accompanied by a decline in conservative revenue forecast bias. Using panel data from 47 states over a 22-year period, they find that the adoption of a BSF reduces revenue underestimation by approximately two-thirds; however, the size of the effect depends in part on how much a state saves in the BSF and the rules governing BSF deposits and withdrawals. The results suggest that BSFs have the unintended effect of increasing fiscal transparency.

The 2013 Federal Budget's Impact on Communities of Color and Low-Income Families

The 2013 Federal Budget's Impact on Communities of Color and Low-Income Families

Women of Color Policy Network
02/23/2012

The Obama administration's budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 (FY 2013) strengthens the national economy by investing in schools, communities and safety net programs. The FY 2013 budget also includes a number of important investments in infrastructure that will spur much needed job growth in a time of economic uncertainty for many working and low-income families. It is critical that such investments take into account the persistently high unemployment in communities of color, and target spending to increase the economic security of the communities most impacted by the "Great Recession." Additionally, the budget includes important changes to the tax code that will lay the foundation for a fairer and more equitable economy.

Separated Powers in the United States: The Ideology of Agencies, Presidents, and Congress

Separated Powers in the United States: The Ideology of Agencies, Presidents, and Congress
American Journal of Political Science, 56: 341–354. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00559.x

Clinton, J. D., Bertelli, A., Grose, C. R., Lewis, D. E. and Nixon, D. C.
11/21/2011

Government agencies service interest groups, advocate policies, provide advice to elected officials, and create and implement public policy. Scholars have advanced theories to explain the role of agencies in American politics, but efforts to test these theories are hampered by the inability to systematically measure agency preferences. We present a method for measuring agency ideology that yields ideal point estimates of individual bureaucrats and agencies that are directly comparable with those of other political actors. These estimates produce insights into the nature of the bureaucratic state and provide traction on a host of questions about American politics. We discuss what these estimates reveal about the political environment of bureaucracy and their potential for testing theories of political institutions. We demonstrate their utility by testing key propositions from Gailmard and Patty's (2007) influential model of political control and endogenous expertise development.

How Brazilian prosecutors enforce labor and environmental laws: The organizational basis of creative problem-solving

How Brazilian prosecutors enforce labor and environmental laws: The organizational basis of creative problem-solving
Regulation and Governance (special issue)

Coslovsky, S.
09/02/2011

Brazil's 8,000 prosecutors sit at the crux of the country's legal system, deciding who gets indicted and sued for common crimes and a wide array of civil violations. In many cases, particularly those concerning the most recalcitrant labor and environmental violations, prosecutors realize that compliance is not only a matter of avarice or ignorance. To the opposite, in these cases compliance requires costly and risky changes in business practices that the managers of the implicated firms are unwilling or unable to carry out on their own. Rather than prosecute, which they anticipate will eliminate jobs and undermine business profitability, or clarify the law, which they fear will be futile, prosecutors reach out and assemble a network of institutions willing to cover some of the costs and insure some of the risks associated with these changes. Ultimately, they lead an effort of inter-institutional root-cause analysis and joint-problem solving, and through this endeavor they make compliance the easiest and most obvious choice for all involved. This paper briefly describes this kind of creative problem-solving and then it analyzes how this government agency encourages and sustains this kind of deviant practice within its ranks.

2011 Federal Policy Review

2011 Federal Policy Review
Published by the Women of Color Policy Network, August 2011.

Women of Color Policy Network
08/01/2011

This summary of legislative action pertinent to the Network's federal policy priorities assesses how noteworthy acts and trends in Congress affect the lives of women of color, their families, and communities. Covering the areas of economic security, social equity, and immigration, the brief provides updates on the status of reproductive rights, job creation, safety net programs, and the DREAM Act, among other topics. The Network's assessment of the policy implications indicates that although the federal legislative landscape offers some progressive opportunities for women of color, obstacles to their advancement loom large amongst ongoing budget and deficit reduction negotiations.

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