Category Archives: Local Government

PolicyInsights

Source: PolicyInsights, 2018

We want to build you a simple and intuitive national platform to engage with your local governments, to understand the services provided and their outcomes. We are starting with four locations (two counties and two cities with similar demographic for comparison purpose). Here are some ways you can explore …. :
– select a location and explore the various programs
– compare the demographic to another location and their programs
– rate the programs of your local governments (if you happen to live in one of these four areas)
– this is a wiki style product, any users could update or add location/programs information (if you see something incorrect or want to add anything, you can contribute)

Locations:
Montgomery County, MD
Washington, DC
Fairfax County, VA
New York, NY

Implementing Downsizing Reforms in County Governments

Source: Kuotsai Tom Liou, Mary Ann Feldheim, Public Administration Quarterly, Vol. 42 no. 1, Spring 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examined the implementation of downsizing reforms in U.S. county governments to understand popular strategies considered and to test related influence factors. Based on the analysis of data from a national survey, this study examines the implementation of different downsizing reform strategies and tests the influence of individual and organizational factors on the use of downsizing strategies. The descriptive statistics revealed that county governments are conservative in the implementation of downsizing strategies: the top three strategies are redesigning jobs and positions, combining agency units, and simplifying rules and procedures. Factor analysis results indicated three downsizing groups that support the interest in applying different strategies in structural and cultural changes. The findings of multivariate regression analyses showed that the size of the county budget and the population are related to the downsizing group, which preferred introducing buy-out packages and introducing bottom-up changes. Implications of the research findings are presented for future studies of public management reforms.

Resistance to school integration in the name of ‘local control’: 5 questions answered

Source: Erica Frankenberg, Kendra Taylor, The Conversation, April 12, 2018

Editor’s note: The word “secession” is often used in reference to states or countries that wish to break off and form their own government. But here in the United States, there are communities that want to secede from their school districts to form their own. One of the latest examples is a case in Gardendale, Alabama, where a court recently ruled that the community’s attempt to leave the Jefferson County, Alabama, school district was motivated by racial discrimination and therefore unconstitutional. In order to gain more insight into what’s driving school district secession efforts, The Conversation reached out to Erica Frankenberg, who has examined the effect of the school secession movement on school segregation in Jefferson County and throughout the nation…..

Does County Form of Government Impact Economic Growth and Development Trends? The Case of Four States

Source: Stephanie A. Pink-Harper, The American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 48 no. 3, April 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Counties have expanded the scope of their activities in the economic development process. However, limited research exists of the factors that influence economic growth and development trends of these unique communities. The primary focus of this case study analysis is to determine whether form of government has an impact on county economic growth and development trends while controlling for environmental context and demographic characteristics in Alabama, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Washington. To empirically test the impact that county form of government and environmental factors have on local economic growth and development trends, ordinary least squares regression is used. The results of this study show that form of government has only a marginal impact on county economic growth and development trends. County environmental factors are found to have a more substantive impact on the economic growth and development trends of counties across these four states.

Domestic Migration and Fewer Births Reshaping America

Source: Kenneth M. Johnson, Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, National Fact Sheet #38, Spring 2018

From the summary:
New Census Bureau data released on March 22, 2018, demonstrate the continuing influence of domestic migration on U.S. demographic trends. Migration patterns are reverting to those common before the recession. Suburban counties of large metropolitan areas, smaller metropolitan areas, and rural counties proximate to metropolitan areas all gained more domestic migrants in the last year. In contrast, domestic migration losses grew in the core counties of metropolitan areas of 1 million or more and remained substantial in rural counties that are not adjacent to an urban area.

Key findings:
– Domestic migration losses from large urban cores rose sharply.
– Domestic migration gains are accelerating in other metro areas.
– Population growth has resumed in rural areas.
– More people are dying, but births remain low.

Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America – Pricing Review Shows They Provide Least-Expensive Local “Broadband”

Source: David Talbot, Kira Hessekiel, and Danielle Kehl, Responsive Communities, January 2018

From the abstract:
By one recent estimate, about 9.2 percent of Americans, or almost 30 million people, lack access to wired home broadband service, which the FCC defines as an Internet access connection providing speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Even where home broadband is available, high prices inhibit adoption; in one national survey, 33 percent of non-subscribers cited cost of service as the primary barrier. Municipally and other community-owned networks have been proposed as a driver of competition and resulting better service and prices.

We examined prices advertised by a subset of community-owned networks that use fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology. In late 2015 and 2016 we collected advertised prices for residential data plans offered by 40 community-owned (typically municipally-owned) FTTH networks. We then identified the least-expensive service that meets the federal definition of broadband (regardless of the exact speeds provided) and compared advertised prices to those of private competitors in the same markets. We were able to make comparisons in 27 communities and found that in 23 cases, the community-owned FTTH providers’ pricing was lower when the service costs and fees were averaged over four years. (Using a three year-average changed this fraction to 22 out of 27.) In the other 13 communities, comparisons were not possible, either because the private providers’ website terms of service deterred or prohibited data collection or because no competitor offered service that qualified as broadband. We also found that almost all community-owned FTTH networks offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months.

We made the incidental finding that Comcast advertised different prices and terms for the same service in different regions. We do not have enough information to draw conclusions about the impacts of these practices. In general, our ability to study broadband pricing was constrained by the lack of standardization in internet service offerings and a shortage of available data.

Related:
City-owned Internet services offer cheaper and more transparent pricing
Source: Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, January 15, 2018

Data shows why customers want muni broadband—and why telecom industry fears it. …. In cases where the researchers were able to compare municipal prices to private ISP prices, the city-run networks almost always offered lower prices. This may help explain why the broadband industry has repeatedly fought against the expansion of municipal broadband networks. This fight includes pushing legislators to draft anti-municipal broadband state laws, lobbying against local ballot initiatives, and filing lawsuits against cities that build their own networks. ….

King County’s Journey in Institutionalizing Equity and Social Justice

Source: Matías Valenzuela, Public Administration Review, Volume 77, Issue 6, November/December 2017
(subscription required)

….What happens when local government decides that a top priority is addressing issues of racial justice, equity, and opportunity—especially when progress is stalled at the national level? The story of King County, Washington, offers one illustration.

King County provides local and regional services to more than two million people across 39 cities and unincorporated areas in transportation, criminal justice, public health and human services, natural resources, and more.

Building on Isett, Head, and VanLandingham’s (2016) work on how evidence can better inform public administration, this article considers evidence in several important ways. King County’s approach to equity and social justice has been driven by both data and values. Almost a decade of experience within King County—as well as other jurisdictions around the country with equity initiatives1—has made addressing equity and racial justice increasingly a discipline based on evidence and promising practices.

In addition, this article lays out the evidence for why governments should focus on equity and social justice. King County’s theory of change—backed by the evidence of working “upstream” and addressing root causes—provides a how that is more effective than many traditional government approaches and interventions that focus “downstream” at the individual level…..