Action plans

Learning To Be Smart: Using Data and Technology to Improve Services in Kansas City, Missouri, 2009 – 2019

Author
Tyler McBrien
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

When Troy Schulte took over as interim city manager of Kansas City, Missouri, in 2009, the local economy was struggling and the government faced hard choices about how to use scarce resources. With a slashed budget and a diminished workforce, Schulte had to figure out how to deliver city services without reducing quality. Together with a small team of employees, he began to create a culture of data-driven decision making in municipal offices, to invest selectively in technology, and to give nonprofit organizations and firms an opportunity to develop their own, innovative solutions to city problems by making more information available to them. Schulte found a kindred spirit in Mayor Sly James, who negotiated a public–private partnership with a view to developing what Kansas City’s chief innovation officer called “the smartest 54 blocks in the country” along the city’s new streetcar corridor. As initial efforts came to a close and a new mayor entered office, Schulte and other officials stepped back to assess what they had learned. The new, data-driven culture had yielded positive improvements, whereas the technology-based smart-city initiative had had a more limited impact—at least in the shorter term. The experience generated important lessons about the scale of the benefits that technology could generate in midsize cities and in what kind of time frame.

Tyler McBrien drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kansas City, Missouri, in January 2020. Case published March 2020.

 

Reducing Inequality by Focusing on the Very Young: Boa Vista, Brazil, Deepens Its Investment in Early Childhood Development, 2017 – 2019

Author
Bill Steiden
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

Narrowing the gap between rich and poor was a top priority for Teresa Surita, five-time mayor of Boa Vista, Brazil. Surita had long viewed early childhood development services as crucial for improving life chances and attaining that goal, and she had partnered with several programs to expand parent coaching and other opportunities. As her fifth term began in 2017, she turned to a program called Urban95, which called for making a top priority the needs of young children and their families in all of the city’s planning and programs. Building on work the city had already done, Surita and her department heads undertook projects that included adapting a neighborhood to the needs of young children and their caregivers and building a cutting-edge data dashboard and alert system designed to ensure citizens would get help when they needed it. The city sought to keep those efforts on track while also extending assistance to families among the refugees fleeing deprivation and violence in neighboring Venezuela. As the term of the initial phase drew to a close in September 2019, municipal officials began to take stock of progress and results. Despite some philosophical disagreements and some uncertainties about the future of vital federal funding, the city was on track to achieve its project goals. 

Bill Steiden drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Boa Vista and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in July and August 2019. Case published October 2019. The Bernard van Leer Foundation supported this case study to foster early-stage policy learning.

 

Reconstructing a City in the Interests of its Children: Tirana, Albania, 2015 – 2019

Author
Gabriel Kuris
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

When Erion Veliaj became mayor of Tirana, Albania, in 2015, he inherited a fast-growing city with unchecked construction and traffic that threatened the health and well-being of all citizens—especially the youngest and most vulnerable. Overcoming public distrust and budgetary shortfalls, Veliaj’s administration worked with private donors and international experts to quickly construct parks, playgrounds, nurseries, schools, and pedestrian spaces. At the beginning of the mayor’s second term in July 2019, the city was poised to adopt new models for streets and neighborhoods redesigned to serve the interests of infants, toddlers, and their caregivers.

Gabriel Kuris drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Tirana, Albania, in April 2019. Case published July 2019. Format revised January 2020. The Bernard van Leer Foundation supported this case study to foster early-stage policy learning.

Governing from a Child’s Perspective: Recife, Brazil, Works to Become Family Friendly, 2017 – 2019

Author
Bill Steiden and Sam Dearden
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In 2017, Geraldo Julio, the mayor of Recife, Brazil, heard scientific evidence that ensuring children from birth to age six years got a better start in life resulted in long-term benefits such as improved health, more-effective learning, less likelihood of criminal involvement, and increased employability. Julio, a technically-oriented leader in his second and final term, saw investment in early childhood development as an innovative strategy for addressing chronic crime and economic inequality in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. To enable parents and young children to move more safely and more quickly to locations where they could find efficiently clustered resources would require the city to align efforts in several city departments, including parks, public works, health, and education. Julio set up a management team and a steering committee to guide that work and won passage of legislation that authorized him to devote municipal resources and grant funding from private groups to the new strategy. The city engaged an existing public–private urban planning partnership to launch and manage pilot projects in two poor but contrasting neighborhoods: one where homes clung to steep, slide-prone hillsides and another where many residents lived in stilt houses on flood-prone riverbanks. It collaborated with a community peace center that could reach target neighborhoods effectively. Further, the mayor’s teams helped municipal departments start projects that would support the new agenda. In mid 2019, nearly two years after the program began, the pilot projects yielded key lessons about how to improve access to services for families with young children. 

Bill Steiden drafted this case study with the help of Sam Dearden based on interviews conducted in Recife, Brazil, in March and May 2019. Case published June 2019. The Bernard van Leer Foundation sponsored this case study, which is part of a series, to support learning in the early stages of its Urban95 program. Savvas Verdis and Philipp Rodeof the London School of Economics served as independent reviewers. 

Putting Justice into Practice: Communal Land Tenure in Ebenhaeser, South Africa, 2012-2017

Author
Leon Schreiber
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

Following the 1994 transition from racial apartheid to democracy, South Africa’s government aimed to provide tenure security for the estimated 16 million black South Africans living in communal areas. But the lack of a clear legal framework applicable to most communal areas meant that progress was slow. In contrast, a viable legal framework did exist to guide tenure reform in smaller communal areas formerly known as “coloured reserves,” where a series of apartheid laws had settled people of mixed race. In 2009, land reform Minister Gugile Nkwiti designated one such area—Ebenhaeser, on the country’s west coast—as a rural “flagship” project. The aim was both to transfer land held in trust by the government to Ebenhaeser community members and to settle a restitution claim. Provincial officials from Nkwinti’s ministry, working with private consultants, organized a communal association to serve as landowner. They helped negotiate an agreement with white farmers to return land that had originally belonged to coloured residents. The community also developed a land administration plan that would pave the way for Ebenhaeser’s residents to become the legal owners of their communal territory.

Lessons Learned

  • A legal framework to guide tenure reform in communal areas is vital. The lack of a law to guide the process in the former homelands made it nearly impossible to make any progress in those regions.
  • In many of the communal areas of South Africa, the key question is whether traditional leaders should become legal landholding entities. Despite the lack of capacity that hampered many CPAs, Ebenhaeser’s experience offers an alternative to granting legal ownership to traditional leaders.
  • A strong, high-level project steering committee was critical for driving implementation. The project required cooperation between a range of different stakeholders. And the creation of a central venue encouraged that collaboration.
  • Providing communities with financial and human resources support after they obtain ownership over communal lands is crucial. Documentation proving they were landowners was not enough to immediately enable the Ebenhaeser CPA to use its land productively or access credit.

 

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study with Professor Grenville Barnes of the University of Florida-Gainesville based on interviews they conducted in the Western Cape, Gauteng, and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa, in March 2017. Case published May 2017.

A 2017 workshop, Driving Change, Securing Tenure, profiled recent initiatives to strengthen tenure security and reform land registration systems in seven countries: South AfricaCanadaJamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Australia and Tanzania.

Watch the video of David Mayson - Managing Director, Phuhlisani

All Hands on Deck: The US Response to West Africa’s Ebola Crisis, 2014-2015

Author
Jennifer Widner
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In 2014, an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea shined a harsh spotlight on global capacity to deal effectively with a fast-moving epidemic that crossed international borders.  By the end of July, the outbreak had started to overwhelm health care systems in all three affected countries. In Liberia, health centers began to close, and President Ellen Sirleaf appealed for help from the United States. President Barack Obama tasked USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to lead an interagency response. From early August 2014 to January 2016, an OFDA Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, deployed to Liberia to help coordinate efforts to stop the spread of infection. The DART was the first to involve a large-scale partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat an infectious disease outbreak. Although the deployment, which scaled up earlier assistance, took place five months after the first reported cases and required extensive adaptation of standard practices, it succeeded in helping bring the epidemic under control: the total number of people infected—28,616—was well below the potential levels predicted by the CDC’s models. This US–focused case study highlights the challenges of making an interagency process work in the context of an infectious disease outbreak in areas where health systems are weak.

Jennifer Widner drafted this case study based on interviews from August 2016 to August 2017. The case is part of a series about the Liberian response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, available through the Innovations for Successful Societies website. Case published June 2018. IBM’s Center for The Business of Government helped finance this case study.

Responding to Global Health Crises: Lessons from the U.S. Response to the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola Outbreak

Author
Jennifer Widner
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

The report “Responding to Global Health Crises: Lessons from the U.S. Response to the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola Outbreak” is a version of the “All Hands on Deck” case produced in partnership with the IBM Center for The Business of Government. 

The DART was the first to involve a large-scale partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat an infectious disease outbreak. Although the deployment, which scaled up earlier assistance, took place five months after the first reported cases and required extensive adaptation of standard practices, it succeeded in helping bring the epidemic under control: the total number of people infected—28,616—was well below the potential levels predicted by the CDC’s models. This U.S.—focused case study highlights the challenges of making an interagency process work in the context of an infectious disease outbreak in areas where health systems are weak.

 

For more information on the IBM Center for The Business of Government, please visit: www.businessofgovernment.org

 

Swimming Against the Tide: Implementing Ghana’s Anticorruption Action Plan, 2014–2016

Author
Tristan Dreisbach
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In 2014, Ghana began to implement its National Anti-Corruption Action Plan, adopted a decade after the West African country signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption.  With over 120 goals, the plan’s strategy was wide-ranging and ambitious. The goals included strengthening the public service code of conduct, improving the asset declaration system, and expanding freedom of information, as well as adopting many new laws. About 15 other countries around the globe had announced similar aims, though few included as many goals in their plans or required as many statutory changes. Ghana’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, which was responsible for translating the strategy into practical accomplishments, faced stiff challenges, including limited coordination capacity, electoral disruption, reluctant legislators, and a few scandals that drew the government’s credibility into doubt. By the early months of 2017, the commission was still struggling to implement important parts of the strategy, but there were a few signs of progress: more public agencies were beginning to report regularly on the actions they had taken to meet their goals, a memorandum of understanding to improve coordination among parts of the anticorruption system was in place, and the Electoral Commission had stepped in to require asset declaration by candidates—even while bigger changes remained mired in the legislature. Ghana’s experience illuminated the challenge of introducing broad anticorruption policies in the face of embedded opposition and the ways that dedicated citizens and officials could take smaller but still significant steps to improve governance.

Tristan Dreisbach drafted this case study based on interviews conducted with the assistance of Gordon LaForge in Accra, Ghana, during September 2016, February 2017, and August 2017. The British Academy-Department for International Development Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Progamme funded the development of this case study. Case published September 2017.

 

Chasing an Epidemic: Coordinating Liberia’s Response to Ebola, 2014–2015

Author
Leon Schreiber
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

In mid 2014, health-care services in Liberia were being overwhelmed by the largest-ever outbreak of Ebola virus disease. Transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, the disease was spreading at a rate of 80 new cases per week by the end of July, killing up to 70% of the people it infected. The country’s fragile health-care system, damaged by a 14-year civil war, could not respond to all of the demands it faced. The rate of new infections rose, and schools and health facilities closed. Collaborating with international partners and five months into the epidemic, the Liberian government created a dedicated Incident Management System (IMS) to coordinate all elements of the country’s fight against the disease. The IMS team created a clear decision-making framework, provided responders with adequate infrastructure and technical support, and set up a coherent procedure for communicating with a frightened and anxious public. At the end of the outbreak, the question was whether Liberia’s approach had provided a model for managing responses to infectious disease outbreaks in other, similar settings or whether the approach had left room for making the system work better.

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study in consultation with Jennifer Widner of Princeton University based on interviews conducted in Monrovia, Liberia and London in November and December 2015.

Princeton University’s Grand Challenge supported the research and development of this case study, which is part of a series on public management challenges in the West African Ebola Outbreak response.

 

Timeline: West African Ebola Outbreak (poster infographic)

Timeline: West African Ebola Outbreak (page version)

"Everybody’s Business": Mobilizing Citizens During Liberia’s Ebola Outbreak, 2014–2015

Author
Leon Schreiber
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract

When Ebola crossed into Liberia in early 2014, the West African nation had few defenses. Because no effective vaccine was available at the time, the only way to limit the spread of the viral disease was to restrict physical contact with those who were infected, what they had touched, and the bodies of victims. But that advice countermanded the most basic of human instincts: to comfort a sick child, hug an ill relative, or shake hands with a friend or coworker. The challenge of changing human behavior was especially difficult because Liberia was still recovering from a long civil war. Public distrust of government, persistent rumors, linguistic diversity, and limited communication capacity hobbled efforts to send a clear public message and win citizens’ cooperation. After top-down tactics—including forcible quarantines of whole communities—failed to stem the rate of infection, a small team of Liberian officials, supported by international partners, realized that effective steps to contain the disease would require active participation by citizens themselves. The officials engaged Liberians in developing an information campaign and recruited people throughout the country to visit their neighbors door-to-door, explain the steps people could take to protect themselves, and respond to questions. Although the complexity of the Ebola response and the volatility of the outbreak had made it hard to measure the success of the social mobilization effort in reducing new infections, an analysis of timing together with anecdotal evidence strongly suggested that the effort helped save lives and contributed to the disease’s decline during the final months of 2014.

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Monrovia, Liberia in April and May 2016, with guidance and additional information provided by Jennifer Widner and Beatrice Godefroy.

Princeton University’s Health Grand Challenge supported the research and development of this case study, which is part of a series on public management challenges in the West African Ebola Outbreak response.

 

Timeline: West African Ebola Outbreak (poster infographic)

Timeline: West African Ebola Outbreak (page version)