Public & Nonprofit Orgs

Three-Part Harmony

Three-Part Harmony
Public Administration Review. Volume 74 (January/February 2014) pp 112-113. doi: 10.1111/puar.12167

Glied, Sherry and Schachter, D.R.
02/21/2014

This is a commentary to an article in Public Administration Review about Danish public service employee motivation. The piece that we commented on noted that there are two dimensions for how Danish public service employees can choose to do their work, and that these motivations can shift over time: the author identified public service work being done either through direct service production/delivery or through service regulation/policy. Almost all possible public service jobs in Denmark are in governmental agencies.

Evidence-Based Management: Implications for Nonprofit Organizations

Evidence-Based Management: Implications for Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Spring 2014, 24(3): 417–424. doi: 10.1002/nml.21097

Kovner, A. R.
01/09/2014

The article reviews evidence-based management and its implications for practice and teaching. My focus is on strategic decision making in nonprofit organizations. Evidence-based management is a process that includes framing the question, finding evidence, assuring accuracy, applicability, and actionability of evidence until the evidence is the best available.

Investigations Done Right and Wrong: Government by Investigation, 1945-2012

Investigations Done Right and Wrong: Government by Investigation, 1945-2012
Brookings Institution Press, 2013.

Light, Paul
12/03/2013

Surveying the 100 most significant Congressional and presidential investigations of executive branch breakdowns between 1945 and 2012, Paul Light offers insight into those qualities that compose an “investigation done right.” Light’s research provides data into the quantity and quality of investigatory efforts in the modern era, as well as what these patterns reveal about what investigators can do to increase the odds that their work will pay off in improved government performance and more effective public policy.

 

Flying under the radar? The state and the enforcement of labor laws in Brazil

Flying under the radar? The state and the enforcement of labor laws in Brazil
Oxford Development Studies

Coslovsky, Salo
09/16/2013

In recent years, developing countries have deregulated, privatized and liberalized their economies. Surprisingly, they have also retained or even strengthened their labor regulations. These contrasting policy orientations create a novel challenge without obvious solutions. To understand how developing country states can ensure reasonable levels of labor standards without compromising the ability of domestic firms to compete, this paper examines how labor inspectors and prosecutors intervened in four troublesome industries in Brazil. It finds that regulatory enforcement agents use their discretion and legal powers to realign incentives, reshape interests, and redistribute the risks, costs and benefits of compliance across a tailor-made assemblage of public, private and non-profit agents adjacent to the violations. By fulfilling this role, these agents become the foot-soldiers of a post-neoliberal or neo-developmental state.

Beyond Foundation Funding: Revenue-Generating Strategies for Sustainable Social Change

Beyond Foundation Funding: Revenue-Generating Strategies for Sustainable Social Change
RCLA Report; February 2013

Jennifer Dodge, Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla, Angela Beard and Caitlin Murphy
02/05/2013

As social change organizations diversify their funding to be less reliant on foundations, they are finding creative ways to adapt traditional strategies and experiment with new ones. This report from RCLA and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation offers specific revenue-generation strategies and examples of nonprofits putting them into practice to offer immediate, actionable guidance for social change organizations, funders and technical assistance providers.

Employee Benefit Financing and Municipal Bankruptcy

Employee Benefit Financing and Municipal Bankruptcy
Journal of Government Financial Management 62(1): 12-19.

Ives, Martin and Thad Calabrese
01/01/2013

Five municipalities with populations over 100,000 have declared bankruptcy since 2008, as have some smaller ones, including Central Falls, RI, in 2011. The bankruptcies have unsettled citizens, current and retired employees, and creditors of the governments involved; further, the apparent increasing willingness of municipal officials to file for bankruptcy has raised concerns nationwide. Municipal bankruptcy is exceedingly rare. Only 650 US Bankruptcy Code Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy cases were filed between 1937 and 2012; by contrast, 2009 alone saw more than 11,000 Chapter 11 corporate reorganization filings. The bankruptcy of Central Falls shows what can happen when systematic underfunding of employee benefit promises runs into a weak, declining economy. Central Falls is a relatively poor municipality. The consequences of bankruptcy can be severe for citizens, employees and creditors. As the current bankruptcy filings unfold in the courts, there is growing alarm among those concerned with government finances regarding the impact of bankruptcy on future borrowing costs and on the safety of employee benefit promises.

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.

Running on Empty: The Operating Reserves of US Nonprofit Organizations

Running on Empty: The Operating Reserves of US Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofit Management & Leadership 23(3): 281-302.

Calabrese, Thad.
01/01/2013

Operating reserves allow nonprofit organizations to smooth out imbalances between revenues and expenses, helping to maintain program output in the presence of fiscal shocks. We know surprisingly little about why nonprofits might save operating reserves and what factors explain variation between organizations' savings behavior. Findings suggest that operating reserves are reduced in the presence of concentrated public funds, access to debt, fixed assets, and endowment. However, size is not an important predictor, indicating that the lack of reserves is not limited to small nonprofit organizations but is instead a sectorwide issue. Significant numbers of nonprofits maintain no operating reserves at all. One potential explanation is that organizations discount the benefits of reserves because they are evaluated on spending, focusing instead on the “benefits of costs.” This preference for spending over reserving may also help explain the general lack of liquidity in the sector beyond operating reserves alone.

Do Federally Assisted Households Have Access to High Performing Public Schools?

Do Federally Assisted Households Have Access to High Performing Public Schools?
Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Ellen, Ingrid Gould and Horn, Keren Mertens.
11/01/2012

A family’s housing unit provides more than simply shelter. It also provides a set of neighborhood amenities and a package of local public services, including, most critically, a local school. Yet housing and education policymakers rarely coordinate their efforts, and there has been little examination of the schools that voucher holders or other assisted households actually reach. In this project we describe the elementary schools nearest to households receiving four different forms of housing assistance in the country as a whole, in each of the 50 states, and in the 100 largest metropolitan areas.We compare the characteristics of these schools to those accessible to other comparable households. We pay particular attention to whether voucher holders are able to reach neighborhoods with higher performing schools than other low-income households in the same geographic area.

 

In brief, we find that assisted households as a whole are more likely to live near low-performing schools than other households. Surprisingly, Housing Choice Voucher holders do not generally live near higher performing schools than households receiving other forms of housing assistance, even though the voucher program was created, in part, to help low-income households reach a broader range of neighborhoods and schools. While voucher holders typically live near schools that are higher performing than those nearest to public housing tenants, they also typically live near schools that are slightly lower performing than those nearest to households living in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Projectbased Section 8 developments and lower performing than those nearest to other poor households.

Can Public Transportation Increase Economic Efficiency?

Can Public Transportation Increase Economic Efficiency?
ACCESS Magazine

Matthew Drennan and Brecher, Charles
07/01/2012

The concentration of economic activities in urban areas yields efficiency gains due to agglomeration economies. Matthew Drennan and Charles Brecher measure whether public transportation service can add to these benefits and make urban areas more productive.

Pages

Subscribe to Public & Nonprofit Orgs