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Governance Trends to Watch

Published by USC Bedrosian Center on

by Caroline Stevens

In an effort to gain perspective on 2013, and begin to conceptualize a governance vision for 2014; we asked our team at The Bedrosian Center to identify the most important patterns, factors and trends to watch in governance from their diverse research and practitioner perspectives. Here is the first installment of our thoughts on what to expect in the future . . . .


JeffeSherry Bebitch Jeffe 

One Party Rule in the Golden State

“California appears to be embarking on an era of one-party governance.

A critical mass of demographic change, the initiative process, and the increasing importance of independent, “no-party preference,” voters has pushed the Republican Party close to extinction in the Golden State.

It remains to be seen what the impact of this dynamic will be on public policy–and whether one-party rule can be sustained.”

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe is Senior Fellow, School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California and the political analyst for KNBC, Los Angeles. Dr. Jeffe regularly writes and comments on American and California government and politics in the state, national and international media.


Chris Weare 

High Quality Open Data & Greater Gains from IT spending

“The first major relevant trend is the emerging recognition of the potential of new forms of data, ‘big data’ is part of this but there are many smaller examples of high quality data becoming available. For example take a look at Fi$ the State’s new budgeting platform, which is intended to drive improved management of government programs.”

“The second major trend at hand is relatively large gains from information technology updates and spending in public sector organizations. It is true that governments since the fiscal crisis have had little to spend on IT infrastructure and human resources, but where organizations have chosen to invest in these areas; numerous successes continue to percolate.

Government has always lagged behind the private sector in taking advantage of IT-based organizational reform owing largely to the very different organizational incentive present in the public sector.

Nevertheless, there is a developing brain drain at all levels of government with the retirement of the baby boom generations. The hope (no promises here) is that as governments work to replicate institutional knowledge and work within tight budgets they will seek to leverage IT to make each worker far more productive. There will be a major role for Schools of Public Policy, both in terms of providing new managers who can work effectively with these data, and in providing the knowledge needed to navigate this impending transformation. The short-term gains of this trend will be small but hopefully, the long-term implications will deliver new level of organizational productivity.”

Chris Weare, Ph.D., is deputy director of the Civic Engagement Initiative and Research Associate Professor within the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. Dr. Weare employs social network analysis to study community networks. He also studies the development and impacts of e-government. Before joining SPPD, he was a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. Dr. Weare holds a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.



FZ2Frank Zerunyan 

State Mandates & Local Government Partnerships

“From a local government perspective 2013 was the year of unfunded state mandates on crucial issues such as water quality, storm drains and land use. While this was extremely challenging at the individual ‘small-city’ level, these complex initiatives from above demanded and orchestrated new levels of cooperation between city councils and municipal neighbors.

For example, in order to comply with the regulations on Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Permits, my city of Rolling Hills Estates needed to develop an Enhanced Watershed Management Plan. The plan alone was going to cost us half a million dollars, so we partnered with the other agencies on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in order to comply without breaking the bank at the same time. It is this type of governance that allows small cities to survive and maintain their independence in the scheme of turbulent top-down demands. This inter-organizational cooperation at the micro level is something we can expect to see much more going forward. ”

Frank Zerunyan, J.D. Professor of the Practice of Governance and Director of Executive Education at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. His key areas of expertise include Local Governments, Public Private Partnerships, Civic Leadership, Land Use, Regulation and Executive Education. He teaches graduate courses on Intersectoral Leadership, Business and Public Policy, International Issues in Public Policy as well as International Laboratory. He also lectures locally and globally to build capacity and foster leadership among public executives worldwide.

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