Neil Kleiman

Clinical Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Public Service

Neil Kleiman

Neil Kleiman has spent 20 years building a career at the intersection of policy, philanthropy, government and academia. He founded an urban issues think tank, established new university degree programs, and developed innovative and practical policy solutions for dozens of cities across the United States. He has also written and edited over thirty policy reports, with his work featured in many media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, PBS NewsHour and National Public Radio.

Kleiman has a joint appointment at the Wagner School of Public Service and the Center for Urban Science + Progress. He is a Senior Fellow at The GovLab and an Affiliated Scholar at the Marron Institute of Urban Management. He teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses on policy formation, urban innovation, and new approaches to managing technology and big data. In 2017, he published a book with Stephen Goldsmith on urban governance reform entitled A New City O/S: The Power of Open, Collaborative and Distributed Governance on Brookings Institution press.

Kleiman serves as the MS Program Director at CUSP. And, as Director of the NYU Wagner Innovation Labs, he supports the development of initiatives and programs to address pressing urban challenges, both nationally and globally. His work has been generously supported at New York University by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Citibank, Ford, Annie E. Casey, Robert Wood Johnson, MacArthur, Kauffman and Sloan Foundations.

He is also Director of Policy and Evaluation for the National Resource Network. Funded with $10 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Network is the nation’s first one-stop resource for cities seeking customized solutions to address pressing local challenges.

Before joining NYU, Kleiman was Director of Policy at Living Cities, a collaborative of the world’s largest foundations and corporate philanthropies, where he was responsible for developing and advancing the organization's policy agenda. In 2008, in partnership with the Kennedy School at Harvard University, he helped create the Project on Municipal Innovation, the only forum in the U.S. where mayoral advisors meet to learn about and design new policy ideas.

He began his career as the founding director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York-based policy think tank whose work is consistently cited in local media outlets. The group has been the source of numerous ideas for mayoral and gubernatorial administrations that were then fully implemented in New York City and New York State.

Kleiman holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In addition to teaching at NYU, he has also taught urban policy at Barnard College, John Jay College-CUNY, Tulane, Universidad de los Andes (Bogota) and has been a visiting fellow at Williams College.

Kleiman is on the board of Next City and Civic Consulting USA.

Governments are undergoing a shift—some might say a revolution—in their approach to operations, service delivery and policy making. With the rise of infinitely complex issues such as globally linked economies and climate change, as well as growing gaps in confidence in the ability of the public sector to address these challenges, prevailing governance approaches no longer seem adequate. There is a move to more innovative approaches – that tap into open platforms, cross agency collaborations, public/private partnerships, and public engagement to extend reach and enhance public value creation. 

With a focus on local government, this course will provide a comprehensive overview of the many facets of a new government paradigm that is taking root in various forms throughout the US. The curriculum is designed to function as a live-lab in which students learn new approaches and tools and directly engage in innovations as they’re happening.  Students themselves will be contributing to the understanding of this nascent field.   

Download Syllabus

Governments are undergoing a shift—some might say a revolution—in their approach to operations, service delivery and policy making. With the rise of infinitely complex issues such as globally linked economies and climate change, as well as growing gaps in confidence in the ability of the public sector to address these challenges, prevailing governance approaches no longer seem adequate. There is a move to more innovative approaches – that tap into open platforms, cross agency collaborations, public/private partnerships, and public engagement to extend reach and enhance public value creation. 

With a focus on local government, this course will provide a comprehensive overview of the many facets of a new government paradigm that is taking root in various forms throughout the US. The curriculum is designed to function as a live-lab in which students learn new approaches and tools and directly engage in innovations as they’re happening.  Students themselves will be contributing to the understanding of this nascent field.   

Download Syllabus

This course provides an introduction to the political institutions and processes through which public policy is made and implemented in the United States (although the key concepts are applicable to other political systems as well). The course also introduces students to the tools of policy analysis. The first half of the course presents the major models of policymaking and policy analysis. The second half of the course applies these concepts to specific policy areas such as health, education, and environment, as illustrated by real-world case studies. The course emphasizes written and oral communication through the development of professional memo-writing and presentation skills.

Download Syllabus

Governments are undergoing a shift—some might say a revolution—in their approach to operations, service delivery and policy making. With the rise of infinitely complex issues such as globally linked economies and climate change, as well as growing gaps in confidence in the ability of the public sector to address these challenges, prevailing governance approaches no longer seem adequate. There is a move to more innovative approaches – that tap into open platforms, cross agency collaborations, public/private partnerships, and public engagement to extend reach and enhance public value creation. 

With a focus on local government, this course will provide a comprehensive overview of the many facets of a new government paradigm that is taking root in various forms throughout the US. The curriculum is designed to function as a live-lab in which students learn new approaches and tools and directly engage in innovations as they’re happening.  Students themselves will be contributing to the understanding of this nascent field.   

Download Syllabus

The purpose of the course is to deepen students’ understanding of the way in which public policy and political realities interact in American government at the national, state, and local levels: how political pressures limit policy choices, how policy choices in turn reshape politics, and how policymakers can function in the interplay of competing forces. The theme explored is how public officials balance concerns for substantive policy objectives, institutional politics and elective politics in order to achieve change. The nature of key legislative and executive institutional objectives and roles is examined. In addition, attention is given to the role of policy analysis and analysts in shaping policy decisions, seeking to identify their potential for positive impact and their limitations in the political process.

A second goal of the course is to sharpen students’ ability to think and write like professional policy analysts. Students will be asked to apply both policy analysis framework and political perspective to the issues under discussion.

Download Syllabus

Governments are undergoing a shift—some might say a revolution—in their approach to operations, service delivery and policy making. With the rise of infinitely complex issues such as globally linked economies and climate change, as well as growing gaps in confidence in the ability of the public sector to address these challenges, prevailing governance approaches no longer seem adequate. There is a move to more innovative approaches – that tap into open platforms, cross agency collaborations, public/private partnerships, and public engagement to extend reach and enhance public value creation. 

With a focus on local government, this course will provide a comprehensive overview of the many facets of a new government paradigm that is taking root in various forms throughout the US. The curriculum is designed to function as a live-lab in which students learn new approaches and tools and directly engage in innovations as they’re happening.  Students themselves will be contributing to the understanding of this nascent field.   

Download Syllabus

2017

Abstract

At a time when trust is dropping precipitously and American government at the national level has fallen into a state of long-term, partisan-based gridlock, local government can still be effective—indeed more effective and even more responsive to the needs of its citizens. Based on decades of direct experience and years studying successful models around the world, the authors of this intriguing book propose a new operating system (O/S) for cities. Former mayor and Harvard professor Stephen Goldsmith and New York University professor Neil Kleiman suggest building on the giant leaps that have been made in technology, social engagement, and big data.

Calling their approach “distributed governance,” Goldsmith and Kleiman offer a model that allows public officials to mobilize new resources, surface ideas from unconventional sources, and arm employees with the information they need to become pre-emptive problem solvers. This book highlights lessons from the many innovations taking place in today’s cities to show how a new O/S can create systemic transformation.

For students of government, A New City O/S: The Power of Distributed Governance presents a groundbreaking strategy for rethinking the governance of cities, marking an important evolution of the current bureaucratic authority-based model dating from the 1920s. More important, the book is designed for practitioners, starting with public-sector executives, managers, and frontline workers. By weaving real-life examples into a coherent model, the authors have created a step-by-step guide for all those who would put the needs of citizens front and center. Nothing will do more to restore trust in government than solutions that work. A New City O/S: The Power of Distributed Governance puts those solutions within reach of those public officials responsible for their delivery.