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Is Judge Stevens Right on the Money?

April 22, 2014
by Jeremy Loudenback

Spiral Staircase

“Spiral Staircase” photo credit: Phil Roeder via photopin cc

The Supreme Court’s recent decision to dismantle limits on campaign contributions has elicited a fervid reaction from many quarters. But it turns out that legal experts and those worried about the influence of political organizations funded by wealthy individuals aren’t the only ones concerned with the issue of abolition of limits on election spending.

You can count former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens as another voice who has been intensely following the highest court’s recent string of decisions that support unfettered campaign spending as a First Amendment right. He’s also got a prescription he thinks might address the rising impact of money in the election process. (more…)


USC Price, UN educate public leaders from around the world

April 22, 2014
by Cristy Lytal (first published @ USC News April 22, 2014)

For public administrators in many parts of the world, some of the most urgent challenges involve providing clean streets, functional sewer systems and reliable water and electricity.

The USC Price School of Public Policy, in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs capacity building branch, works to address these problems through its executive education forum, including a March workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, attended by more than 200 government officials from 18 countries.

Spearheading these efforts is USC Price Professor Frank Zerunyan, director of executive education at the USC Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise.

“The goal was to offer a practical and concrete platform for public servants to increase their awareness of the innovations and methods available to implement public service delivery in their respective countries,” Zerunyan said.

Before his departure, Zerunyan and a team of USC Price Master of Public Policy students co-authored a paper about innovative practices for improved public service delivery in what the U.N. refers to as “least developed countries,” or LDCs. Thirty-three of the world’s 48 LDCs are located in Africa. (more…)


When Policy Evaluation, Social Innovation, and Policy Design demand that you Go Look and See

April 21, 2014
Martin H. Krieger

1. What to look for: There is always the idea that if you can’t measure it, you are not doing it right. In much of public policy, you try for various measures, but you know as well that they are proxies, and they may not be reliable or even accurate. So what do you do? What you want to do is to do fieldwork, in effect it is sophisticated theory-informed deep journalism. You interview people, you may use some survey instruments (but often this is only helpful after you have found out what’s up). You find out what is happening. In other words, whether it be in health, education, housing, you have to find out what is happening as a consequence of your policies, and then you might be able to figure out how to measure it. If you don’t know what to look for, you are out of business. Some of the time you are doing exploratory research, and you will see surprises. And it’s not a matter of quantitative stuff, per se. It’s phenomena you had not expected.

Reliability. People worry about objectivity or about bias. But looking at the world is surely more accurate than at some data set whose connection with the world is dubious. The problem is not about measureable, it is to figure out what is going on and then you might want to measure it. Preconceived ideas about what is going on are typically artifacts of fantasies. There may be earlier studies, done by sociologists, anthropologists, economists, historians that will inform what you look for.

A wide range of indicators and methods.

Examples.

Robert Sampson's recent book a. Robert Sampson (Chicago, now Harvard) just did a book on neighborhood effects in cities, and surely there were dicey neighborhoods. But they drove up and down the streets and photographed the facades of buildings. Sampson is a sociologist, not a public policy person, but his work is central to public policy. (more…)


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