government

Building the Responsive City

The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data Smart Governance

by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford

Technology, and especially the use of data and analytics, has been transforming the way cities manage service delivery. Former Indianapolis mayor New York City deputy mayor Steve Goldsmith, and his colleague at Harvard Susan Crawford, recently wrote a book called “The Responsive City” looking at this technology revolution.  read more »

Why Pleas to Increase Infrastructure Funding Fall on Deaf Ears

Letting the nation’s roads and bridges deteriorate may worsen traffic congestion and add to our commuting woes, but when water and sewer systems begin to fail our very civilization is at risk. That is the message of a recent story in The Washington Post drawing attention to the alarming state of the nation’s water and sewer infrastructure. The story looks at the Washington D.C. system as a poster child for neglected and dilapidated municipal utilities. The average age of the District water pipes is 77 years and a great many were laid in the 19th century, notes the Post article.  read more »

The Impact of Federal Cutbacks

During my college days, I had the opportunity to interview a local government official tasked with conducting various disaster response programs. North Dakota had, at the time, been dealing with severe flood issues for nearly a decade, and the interviewee had vast experience dealing with the ins and outs of working within the system to find mitigation solutions. Asked about the challenges of having to deal with a multitude of state and federal agencies, he informed me that the most vital contacts he had were at the federal level.  read more »

The Precarious State of the Highway Trust Fund

On November 18, President Obama signed into law a bundle of appropriation bills for FY 2012  including appropriations  for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The measure had been passed earlier in the House by a vote of 298-121 and in  the Senate by a vote of 70-30.   read more »

Cities Have Outgrown Their Role as Mere Creatures of the Provinces

The Martin Prosperity Institute recently released the map below, which compares the GDP of several US metropolitan areas to the size of national economies. For instance, the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan statistical area (MSA) has a GDP of $311.3 billion dollars. If it were a country, it would be the 40th biggest national economy on earth, ahead of countries such as Denmark ($310.1) and Greece ($303.4).  read more »

Infographic: State Property Tax Data

Credit Sesame has created an interactive map showing property tax rates for all 50 states. Based on data from the Tax Foundation, the graphic also shows property tax rates as a share of home value and as a share of median income of homeowners. It's important to note that property taxes can vary regionally within states, and property taxes are only one part of overall state and local tax burden.  read more »

Adjusting to Fiscal and Political Realities in Transportation Funding

As this is written, we do not know the exact level of funding the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will propose in its draft legislation, to be unveiled in the first week of July and marked up the following week. Nor do we know what level of funding the Senate Finance Committee will come up with. But we do know that both Houses will be obliged to propose far less funding than is contained in the current (FY 2010) surface transportation budget of $52 billion ($41 billion for highways, $11 billion for transit).  read more »

Australian Local Governments Stop Forced Amalgamation

Local government consolidations are often proposed by a wide range of interests, often out of the belief that they will produce more efficient (less costly) governments. Much of the academic literature supports this view. However, the evidence indicates that material savings routinely fail to occur from such amalgamations. The claimed $300 million annual savings in Toronto's megacity quickly became higher costs and a larger bureaucracy.  read more »

What Seneca Falls Can Learn from Toronto

One of the most enduring myths in public policy is that local government consolidations save money. The idea seems to make sense, and most of the academic studies support the proposition. However, rarely, if ever, does the promised reduction in public expenditures or taxes actually take place.  read more »

Why the feds should stay out of high-speed rail (and most transportation)

Set aside for a minute whether high-speed rail (HSR) makes sense or not on a cost-benefit basis. Regardless of whether it does or not (and some smart people are arguing not), I'd like to make the argument that federal funding has no place in HSR. Instead, it should be left to individual states or regional state coalitions.
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