NYU Wagner's Paul Light Launches 'Light on Leadership' Blog In The Washington Post
Professor Paul Light has launched a new blog for the Washington Post entitled "Light on Leadership: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom with NYU Wagner's Paul Light." Light's online commentary on the national government will appear every Thursday on the newspaper's website. His debut column April 15, 2010, "Slimming the Federal Leadership" -- coauthored by Russ Feingold, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin and member of the Senate Budget Committee -- drew more than 300,000 hits.
His second column (Apr. 22, 2010) focuses on CEO compensation levels at nonprofit organizations. His latest (June 3, 2010), looks at what President Obama can learn from the oil spill debacle.
Professor Light is NYU Wagner's Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service and founding principal investigator of the school's Organizational Performance Initiative.
Campaign for High Performance Government Established
Drawing upon decades of experience, leaders in public service have announced their intent to establish the Campaign for High Performance Government, a non partisan working group to encourage urgently needed reform of the federal government's administrative practices.
Economist and former chair of two national commissions on public service reform, Paul A. Volcker made the announcement at the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) as part of the Elliot Richardson Lecture series.
"We must place public service reform squarely on the federal agenda. Too much of what government achieves is at risk without wide-ranging changes to improve performance and restore trust."
Funded by a grant from the sponsor of The Truman Medal for Economic Policy and supported in part by The Robertson Foundation for Government, and the NYU/Abu Dhabi Center for Global Public Service and Social Impact, the Campaign for High Performance Government is designed to re-introduce Congress and the Administration to well documented reform proposals, including those in the two earlier reports of the National Commission on Public Service, both of which were chaired by Paul A. Volcker.
The Campaign for High Performance Government will address the continued erosion of the federal government's capacity to faithfully execute the laws. Its goal is to reverse what the first Volcker Commission called the "profound erosion of public trust." Recently, the Gallup poll found that Americans now estimate that 50 cents of every federal dollar is wasted, a reflection of the erosion of confidence in the ability of government to perform efficiently and ably.
The Campaign for High Performance Government will be anchored at NYU's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. It will focus on identifying strategies for urgently needed action and analysis for the reform effort.
According to the Campaign director, Paul C. Light, NYU Wagner School of Public Service Professor, Robertson Foundation for Government Advisory Board member, and founding director the new NYU/Abu Dhabi Center for Global Public Service and Social Impact, "Well publicized breakdowns in the federal bureaucracy, whether in managing national security, in contracting practices, or in unwarranted political influence are symptoms of the government wide need to achieve reliable high performance."
The campaign will focus on a series of previous proposals including:
-- Reform of the excessively time consuming presidential appointments process
-- Need to reduce duplication and overlap across federal agencies
-- Civil Service changes in recruitment, training, retaining and deployment
As Light noted, "We need the right federal employees in the right place at the right time with enough resources to deliver on the promises we make today."
The Campaign for High Performance Government will start its work to translate the specific recommendations into action with support for Senators Feingold and McCain's legislation to reduce the number of presidential appointees, and restore the president's fast-track reorganization authority that expired in 1984.
The former Chairman of the Federal Reserve noted that the Obama Administration has signaled its support for federal government reform.
"The Administration is working to make government more transparent, examine contract fraud, and improve the hiring process. But much more needs to be done."
According to Volcker, this is a particularly important time to push forward on public service excellence.
"Public demand for results is high, but confidence remains low; interest in public service of all kinds is clear, but service in federal agencies remains a questioned destination at both the top and bottom of the hierarchy; the need for a high performance government is undeniable, but seems just out of reach when crisis strikes." Speaking of the need for immediate action, he concluded that "A great society deserves no less."
Paul A. Volcker's full remarks can be found here.
An evening with Henry Kissinger elicits his views on the Middle East
Henry Kissinger and NYU Wagner Visiting Prof. Michael Doran discuss U.S. strategies in the Middle East at an Apr. 7 forum co-sponsored by Wagner.
NYU Wagner and the New-York Historical Society sponsored a conversation with Dr. Henry A. Kissinger on Wednesday, April 7th at the Metropolitan Club. Dean Ellen Schall, together with Roger Hertog and Louise Mirrer, the Chairman and the President, respectively, of the Historical Society, invited guests to an evening of Dr. Kissinger discussing Middle East strategy with NYU Wagner Visiting Professor Michael Doran, an expert on the international politics of the Middle Middle East. Dr. Kissinger toured the horizon, discussing the interlocking strategic dilemmas facing the Obama administration throughout the region -- from the struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan to the difficulty of brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace, and from the international need to stop the Iranian nuclear program to the prospect of working with the Russians to solve problems of mutual concern.
Wagner visiting professors Ford and Manji named among "Top 25" centrist voices in US
Irshad Manji and Harold Ford, each of whom teaches at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate of Public Service at NYU, rank among the top 25 "most influential voices of the American center," according to the online magazine The Daily Beast.
Manji, director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University and visiting scholar, and Ford, distinguished practitioner in residence and former congressman, are part of what the April 1, 2010, salute describes as a "powerful backlash brewing - a movement of voices from the vital center who are declaring their independence from play-to-the-base politics."
"The independent thinker doesn't belong to a camp," Manji has written. "She belongs to her conscience."
2010 Public Service Career Expo Attracts Over 100 Employers
2010 Public Service Career Expo
The 2010 Public Service Career Expo was extremely successful. More than 300 students and alumni from five nationally recognized schools of public affairs attended, with just over 100 employers participating, 96 of them with the goal of recruiting candidates for existing jobs and internships.
Both students and employers offered postiive feedback about the diverse representation of public service organizations at the March 11th Expo, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street in Manhattan. Among the participating organizations were: Accenture; Fitch Ratings; Moody's Investor's Service; Citizens Budget Commission; New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; International Rescue Commitee; UNDP & UNICEF; New Leaders for New Schools; Congressional Research Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; New York City Department of Environmental Protection; New York City Economic Development Corp., and many others.
In addition to NYU Wagner, this year's Expo consortium of schools included Carnegie Mellon, Heinz College, School of Public Policy & Management; Duke University's Terry Sanford School of Public Policy; The George Washington University Trachetenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration; and Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenshp & Public Affairs.
A "Top Secret" Battle and What It Means for Us Today
Geoff Cowan, Bob Shrum, and Mitchell Stephens discuss Top Secret after the play.
Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers, by playwright Geoffrey Cowan, explores the secret history of the U.S.'s decision to escalate involvement in the Vietnam War, while simultaneously telling the American public that it was trying to get out. The play, which is based on interviews with the participants and on actual trial transcripts, details the government's attempt to suppress classified information in the "Pentagon Papers," under the guise that publication would have dire consequences for national security, by suing both The New York Times and the Washington Post to prevent publication. A showdown between the government and the Post ensued, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Post, as it became apparent that much of the "classified" information was, in fact, already part of the public domain.
Led by a spirited cast, Top Secret is a funny, smart, and engaging illumination of the relationship between a press that's supposed to be free and independent and the U.S. government. It resonates with younger generations, as well as those who lived through it, as issues of free speech, and the government's attempts to suppress it, continue to pervade our society.
The February 25 performance of Top Secret was followed by a conversation between Geoff Cowan; Bob Shrum, senior fellow at NYU Wagner; and Mitchell Stephens, professor of journalism and mass communication at NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
Stephens identified this as a "noble" moment in American history, when American culture really started to resent and repel government secrecy.
This was the first time that the establishment attacked an objective press for reporting on issues of national security, and it led to a public distrust that culminated in Watergate.
While we still see examples of secrecy within the government-the torture photographs from Abu Ghraib blocked by the Justice Department, for example-the press generally behaves more responsibly than critics imagine. In fact, according to Stephens, there are no incidents in American history when the mainstream press has jeopardized national security by printing "sensitive" information. Moreover, the influx of technology, especially the Internet, has made it more difficult for the government to keep secrets from the press and the public, both nationally and around the world.
So how does the press make the decision to publish information that could be damaging to the U.S.? It comes down to the idea that restraint is inconsistent under the First Amendment, but that doesn't mean there aren't arguments for not printing sensitive information. It will only take one time for a bit of information to get in the wrong hands, and the consequences could be devastating. Therefore, as Bob Shrum pointed out, increased freedom of the press must lead to increased responsibility by the press.
The truth is that the government can still stop the printing of stories, and newspapers today certainly don't have the financial security to go toe-to-toe with the U.S. government. But the U.S. Supreme Court's ability to enforce the First Amendment remains a bastion of the rights of free speech.
Prof. Rodwin and other health policy experts back President Obama's healthcare reform
Victor Rodwin, professor of health policy and management at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, is one of the cosigners of a public letter to President Barack Obama and members of Congress, calling for passage of the president's comprehensive overhaul of the nation's health care system.
"Our health care system is in crisis," the letter begins. At another point it adds, "the only workable process at this point is to use the President's proposal to finish the job."
Among the cosigners are Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate and behavioral economist; David Cutler and Len Nichols, who have advised Congress on health policy in the past year; Theda Skocpol, political scientist; Henry Aaron of The Brookings Institution; and Paul Starr, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of medical care.
The letter was drafted in late February after the nationally televised health care summit led by President Obama showed the deep divide between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of health care reform.
Financial Access Initiative research on the unbanked cited in House testimony
The Financial Access Initiative, a research consortium of leading development economists that is focused on substantially expanding access to financial services for low-income individuals worldwiide, was cited by U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) at a hearing on the future of the microfinance poverty-fighting strategy on Jan. 27 conducted by the House Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology. Among other facts, Rep. Maffei noted FAI's finding that 2.5 billion people currently have no savings or credit account with a tradition or alternative financial institution (see study "Half the World is Unbanked, Oct., 2009) The congressman's videotaped remarks begin at minute 19:28 here.
Additionally, FAI research was cited at the hearing in testimony by Susy Cheston of Opportunity International (see P. 6).
The Financial Access Initiative is housed at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Its managing director and lead researcher is Jonathan Morduch, professor of public policy and economics at NYU Wagner.
NYU Wagner co-sponsors Irving H. Jurow Lecture on 'The Fate of Conservatism'
Wagner Prof. Bob Shrum and NY Times' Sam Tanenhaus at NYU Jurow Lecture
Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of The New York Times Book Review and Week in Review and the author of "The Death of Conservatism," delivered the 11th Irving H. Jurow Lecture at NYU's Silver Center for Arts and Science on February 1. David Oshinsky, Jacob K. Javits Visiting Professor at NYU and Jack S. Blanton Chair of the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin, offered introductory remarks. A panel discussion was moderated by Oshinsky, with Ellen Schall, the Dean of NYU Wagner and the Martin Cherkasky Professor of Health Policy and Management; Robert Shrum, Senior Fellow, NYU Wagne and author of "No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner"; and Tannenhaus.
The event was co=sponsored by the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, and the College of Arts and Science at NYU.
Furman Center Releases New Report on Foreclosed Properties in New York City
On January 14, 2010, the Furman Center released a new report, Foreclosed Properties in NYC: A Look at the Last 15 Years. The report analyzes the outcomes of 1-4 family properties that entered foreclosure in New York City between 1993 and 2007, paying particular attention to trends in recent years. While foreclosure filings continue to rise, little is known about what happens to those properties-how many homeowners are able to stay in their home, how many sell their homes, how many complete the foreclosure process and end up in REO. This report sheds new light on these questions. View the press release.
What to read on foreign aid, according to NYU Wagner Prof. John Gershman
Professor John Gershman, clinical associate professor and director of undergraduate programs at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, offered Foreign Affairs magazine his ideas on what's worth reading on the issue of foreign aid. To see his annotated syllabus, go here.
President Obama Highlights Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
"In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college."
-President Barack Obama, 1/27/10
In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama highlighted the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This program, a part of the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, allows some federal student loan borrowers who work in the public and nonprofit sectors to have remaining loan balances forgiven after 10 years of qualifying employment and loan repayment.
To learn more about the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, please visit our Web site.
The post-racial conversation one year later, with NYU Wagner's Irshad Manji
ONE YEAR after the inauguration of America's first African-American president, MSNBC presented "Hope and Fear in Obama's America: 2010" on Monday, January 18, a lively, extended discussion on race held at Texas Southern State University with national thought leaders, including NYU Wagner Visiting Scholar Irshad Manji -- the director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University. Tune in Manji's comments and offer your own.
WagNerds win volleyball championship!
WagNerds co-ed volleyball champions.
The co-ed WagNerds volleyball team was dazzling enough to win this year's NYU Intramural championship! It accomplished this impressive feat after finishing the semester with a won-loss record of 5-1 in the regular season. It then went on to win five more games -- and captured the 32-team, year-end tournament held in December.
In the finals, the NYU Wagner team defeated the Ballerz team by a score of 25-9 / 25-1 -- something that would have been impossible without the huge cheering section from Wagner and the crucial help all along of Christina DeCesare, Secretary of the Wagner Student Association (WSA), who coordinates Wagner's intramural programs.
Team members who participated in the playoff games included: Trish Bertuccio; Danielle Gilbert; Luke Heinkel; Jake Leos-Urbel; Noah Levine; Michael Lobiondo; Fedor Novikov; Jared Pruzman; Rebecca Smith; and Virginia Zuco.
The next season starts in the spring with a men's volleyball league and a women's volleyball league, along with many other sports groupings. Students who want to play on any of the teams can contact Christina to sign up.
Brademas Center report calls for a role for arts in enhancing America's global image
The 2008 election of Barack Obama has offered an historic opportunity for the restoration of America's image around the world. In January 2009, the John Brademas Center of NYU Wagner convened a group of experts to explore the public policy implications for American arts and culture of a renewed focus on U.S. public diplomacy, and issued a call for an expansion of international arts and cultural exchanges in the service of this new direction. A December, 2009, report from the Brademas Center is the result of their expert opinions and deliberations, including those of Wagner's Professor Ruth Ann Stewart, a coauthor of the report. The report, aimed at the President and Congress, is entitled "Moving Forward: A Renewed Role for American Arts and Artists in the Global Age."
Furman Center releases new study on racial segregation and subprime lending
On November 19, 2009, the Furman Center released a new report examining the relationship between residential segregation and subprime lending. The study examined whether the likelihood that borrowers of different races received a subprime loan varied depending on the level of racial segregation. It looked both at the role of racial segregation in metropolitan areas across the country and at the role that neighborhood demographics within communities in New York City played. The report found that, nationally, black borrowers living in the most racially segregated metropolitan areas were more likely to receive subprime loans than black borrowers living in the least racially segregated metropolitan areas. When looking just at New York City neighborhood demographics, the report found that living in a predominantly non-white neighborhood made it more likely that borrowers of all races would receive a subprime loan.
The Furman Center is a leading academic research center, and a joint initiative of NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the School of Law. The director is Vicki Been, the Boxer Family Professor of Law, and the co-director is Professor Ingrid Ellen of Wagner.
Half the world is 'unbanked,' says new Financial Access Initiative paper
The Financial Access Initiative (FAI), a research consortium based at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, has identified that 2.5 billion adults worldwide do not have a savings or credit account with either a traditional (regulated bank) or alternative financial institution (such as a microfinance institution). Nearly 90% of the financially un-served live in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. FAI published the findings in a November, 2009, paper, "Half the World is Unbanked" (click below to access it).
"Until now, the margin of error when considering the world's unbanked was about plus or minus a billion-unacceptable in any other field," said Jonathan Morduch, professor of economics and policy at NYU Wagner, managing director of the Financial Access Initiative, and author of Portfolios of the Poor, a new book examining the surprisingly sophisticated financial lives of the world's poor. "These findings are a real step ahead, and they show how better data can help policymakers truly target and serve poor populations with appropriate financial services."
The analysis also revealed new insights; for example, that India, a country with low per capita income and a large rural population, demonstrates much greater use of financial services than many relatively richer and more urban countries. The global data indicate that countries can improve levels of financial inclusion by creating effective policy and regulatory environments and enabling the actions of individual financial service providers. More than 800 million of those using financial services live on less than $5 per day, so it is possible to provide these services to very low-income communities-but there are still nearly 2 billion to reach.
The Financial Access Initiative (FAI) is a consortium of leading development economists focused on substantially expanding access to quality financial services for low-income individuals, offering the next generation of thinking about microfinance. FAI is housed at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and led by managing director Jonathan Morduch and directors Dean Karlan (Yale University) and Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard University). FAI focuses on basic research and measurement tools that reveal the most effective means of implementing microfinance initiatives. FAI studies the value of microfinance by identifying the demand for financial services; the impact of financial access on incomes, businesses, and broader aspects of well-being; and mechanisms that can increase impact and scale of microfinance.
At NYU Wagner event, OMB Director Orszag describes remedies for U.S. deficit [Video]
Peter Orszag, Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Peter Orszag, Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), talked about the enormous U.S. budget deficit, its primary causes, and its potential implications for health care, higher education, and the career prospects of younger people in an address November 3rd at New York University sponsored by the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Orszag was introduced by John Sexton, NYU's President, and Ellen Schall, the Dean of NYU Wagner, who served as the event's moderator and in her opening remarks noted that Orszag was the youngest member of President Barack Obama's cabinet.
Last year, Orszag told the audience of more than 400 people at NYU's Kimmel Center, the federal deficit was $1.4 trillion ,and a comparable budget gap is projected for the present fiscal year. Over the next decade, he said, the federal government is projected to generate additional red ink of $9 trillion. "Deficits of this size are serious and ultimately unsustainable," Orszag said.
The event was broadcast live by Fox Business while generating a significant amount of public interest and media coverage. To read an official text of the speech or view the NYU webcast, click on the links below.
New York Times spotlights NYU Wagner's 'Visual Explorer' application tool
When NYU Wagner reviews applications for admission, we try to add up the many components that make up an applicant and ask ourselves: Who is this person? Two years ago, we added an optional Visual Explorer essay to our application. This essay section provides all applicants with an opportunity to offer information about themselves that is not always captured through the standard essay question on the application. They are asked to select a photograph from an archive of two dozen conceptual images and then write about it. The process draws out their creativity, while grounding them in a moment of reflection about their motivation to study and work in public service.
"Too often," notes Wagner's dean, Ellen Schall, "applying to graduate school is transactional. We added Visual Explorer because we wanted to signal that the Wagner experience is transformational. Visual Explorer calls for people to slow down enough to reflect on their own experiences, connect their passion for public service to their professional goals, and offer their own perspectives on how to change the world."
On Nov. 1, 2009, the Education Life supplement of The New York Times spotlighted Wagner's pattern-breaking application tool, the images for which are provided in collaboration with the nonprofit Center for Creative Leadership, or CCL.
View the interactive feature at the New York Times.
Lt. Gov. Ravitch sizes up state deficit at Rudin Center forum
Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch and Prof. Charles Brecher
"Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch's appearance at an NYU forum yesterday was overbooked almost as soon as it was announced, and the audience wasn't disappointed as Gov. Paterson's No. 2 let loose on a variety of subjects." So began a Crain's Insider dispatch on Ravitch's bracing, widely reported discussion Oct. 28, 2009, at NYU Wagner on New York State's huge budget challenges and the implications for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which he formerly headed, the $2 transit fare, and the controversial idea of introducing East River bridge tolls.
Ravitch, a major figure in the development of fiscal practices in the city and state since 1970s, offered his assessments with Wagner's Professor Charles Brecher (moderator) as a guest of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, housed at the school, and the Center's director, Anthony Shorris, who previously headed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "The State of New York," Ravitch said, "has in the remainder of this fiscal year a deficit of $4 billion--$3 or $4; people argue about it," he said, speaking to students and transportation professionals at NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy. "Next year it's between $7 and $8 [billion], assuming revenues level off. The year after that, when the stimulus bill no loner provides any one-shots for the State of New York, the deficit will be between $15 and $18 billion. These are numbers that are unprecedented."
Hear the full discussion in the Wagner Podcast.