Professor Timothy Hoff has been elected as a visiting scholar in the Said Business School at Oxford University. He has been working collaboratively with colleagues from Oxford on research examining how senior health executives collaborate and govern. They are beginning new research on physician career evolution within the U.S. and U.K., a critical topic as both countries’ health systems undergo massive reforms.
“My collaborations with colleagues at Oxford are centered on research which aims to better understand key changes occurring in both the U.S. and U.K. health systems, particularly in the areas of strategic leadership and medical training.”
—Timothy Hoff, Professor of Management, Healthcare Systems, and Public Policy
Several publications have been produced from this ongoing collaboration, the most recent one in the January 2017 issue of the British Journal of Health Management. Hoff is already a visiting associate fellow at Oxford’s Green-Templeton College.
Held in the Curry Student Center Ballroom, the event highlighted a legacy of service-oriented initiatives and the School’s innovative research centers and labs—Dukakis Center, Boston Area Research Initiative, Resilient Cities Lab, and Social Impact Lab—which have advanced public policy and urban affairs theory and practice.
“We wanted to create a space within the university for the kinds of applied research, experiential education, professional development programs, professional education at the graduate level that was hard to do in other units.”
—Christopher Bosso, Professor of Public Policy; Director, Master of Public Policy Program
Keynote speaker Heather Hume took a trip down memory lane, reliving her time at Northeastern. She started her career driving buses, obtained her Master’s in Urban and Regional Policy in 2013, and she is now the director of service planning at the MBTA.
“I found this program and I knew right away this is what I want to do. I want to focus on transportation policy,” she said. “When I first started in the program I was working two jobs … but I knew that this mattered. I knew that if I put my heart and soul into it, it was going to get me where I wanted to be.”
Hume was named among the 2015 Mass Transit Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40.
Click here to learn more about the Spring 2017 student capstone projects.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows announced today that a team of three faculty members from Northeastern University’s Resilient Cities Laboratory—housed in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs—were selected to receive the 2017 Latrobe Prize for their study of “Future-Use Architecture.”
The following is the April 24 AIA press release:
The Latrobe Prize, named for architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows for a two-year program of research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession. The $100,000 award will enable the team to identify design attributes contributing to future adaptability, demonstrate future-use design strategies for buildings using words and graphics, and document and analyze architectural precedents that exemplify future-use design. Designing for “future use” focuses on the balance between flexible and fixed building systems to respond to unforeseeable contingencies while conserving the essential architectural design and performance. Future-use design engages architects with architectural attributes of organization as a vehicle for creative solutions and unique architectural expression in the face of persistent change.
The selected Latrobe Prize proposal by Peter Wiederspahn AIA, associate professor of architecture, and principal of Wiederspahn Architecture; Michelle Laboy PE, assistant professor of architecture and co-founder of FieLDworkshop, and David Fannon AIA, member ASHARE, LEED AP BD+C, assistant professor of architecture and civil and environmental engineering, and affiliate professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, seeks to answer questions related to how to best design buildings and cities for unknown future uses and how to help initiate more informed development practices and regulatory frameworks for adaptive reuse and regeneration.
The jury was impressed with the holistic quality of the proposal, its cogent framework, and its real potential for advancing knowledge of “future-use, future-proofing.” The proposed outcomes will include interactive products of immediate use to practice, while also advancing architectural education and our collective understanding of the characteristics of buildings.
“The Latrobe Prize allows us to demonstrate the strategic benefits and deployable attributes of future-use design,” explained Wiederspahn. “These principles can significantly transform architectural services by incorporating the full temporal scope of buildings.”
Laboy contextualized the work, adding “This is an opportunity to expand on a pedagogical model, which we developed to help students systematically consider and design what is essential and long-lasting in architecture, and apply it to the challenges of practice.” Fannon linked the proposal to the 2017 Latrobe themes, noting that “Predicting the future is impossible, but designing for the future is not.”
Founded in 1952, the College of Fellows is comprised of AIA members who are elected to Fellowship by a jury of their peers. Elevation to Fellowship recognizes individual achievements of the architect but also elevates before the public and the profession those architects who have made significant contributions to architecture and to society.
Members of the 2017 Latrobe Prize jury include: Katherine Schwennsen, FAIA, Clemson University; Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, Architect of the Capitol; Frank M. Guillot, FAIA, Guilot-Vivian-Viehmann; Sylvia Kwan, FAIA, Kwan Hanmi Architecture/Planning; Lenore M. Lucey FAIA, Chancellor of College of Fellows; Jud Marquardt FAIA, LMN Architects; Raymond G. Post FAIA, Post Architects; Marilyn Jordan Taylor FAIA, University of Pennsylvania.
By Molly Callahan | News@Northeastern
At a launch event Tuesday afternoon for Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute, five leaders in the resilience field emphasized the importance of one of the institute’s overarching goals—to establish and facilitate collaboration across disciplines in order to best create resiliency on multiple fronts.
Drawing on real experiences—such as recovering from a hurricane that knocked out 77 percent of the electrical grid in Connecticut and cleaning up after a massive oil spill on the Gulf Coast—leaders from industry and higher education highlighted the role that the Global Resilience Institute will play in the real world.
Uta Poiger, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, opened the conversation, held in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex’s auditorium, by describing the “ambitious vision of an institute that’s going to be about sustainability as well as adaptation,” one that “relies on collaboration, partnerships, and innovation.”
Stephen E. Flynn, professor of political science with affiliated appointments in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will lead the Global Resilience Institute, which will drive an interdisciplinary effort to create a more flexible, nimble world.
“We’re thinking about resilience as an outcome,” Flynn said just before the panel discussion Tuesday. “The secret sauce is figuring out how to get individuals, communities, and systems to be more resilient.”
Read the full story here.]]>
The 11 March 2011 triple disasters in Japan brought with them tremendous tragedy: 18,500 people killed, hundreds of billions of dollars in cleanup and decommissioning costs, and ongoing radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. But they have also opened up an unforeseen policy window in the field of energy. The nuclear accidents and the forced evacuation of more than 160,000 people from nearby towns such as Futaba, Ohkuma, and Namie have created national-level energy transition (known as Energiewende in Germany) policy in Japan and have accelerated renewable energy deployment in countries elsewhere such as Germany. Here we show how that accident has brought unexpected benefits through decentralization and diversification of energy systems.
While pre-Fukushima German government plans focused on transitioning away from fossil fuels to a mix of renewables and continued reliance on nuclear power, the 2011 disaster kindled deep anti-nuclear sentiment in Germany. After Fukushima, Chancellor Angela Merkel reversed her position on nuclear and accelerated the phase-out of nuclear power committing to shutting down all 17 German nuclear power plants by 2022. Since then, the growth in renewables has expanded rapidly so that now more than a third of electricity generated in Germany is renewable and about half of that is citizen-owned. The rate and scale of change has strained the grid and been disruptive to utilities and others that benefited from the previously dominant centralized nuclear and fossil fuel baseload power plants. In fact, the pace of renewable deployment has been so fast in the past five years that German lawmakers recently voted to slow it down by implementing a new bidding process for renewable projects and annual restrictions on the amount of new renewable capacity that can be installed. Despite the challenges, Germany has become the global leader in renewable deployment demonstrating the value of more decentralized and diversified energy.
Japan responded to the Fukushima disaster by immediately shutting down all remaining nuclear power plants that had been generating 30% of the country’s electricity. In the 6 years since, the majority of plants remain closed and the government has been supporting a diverse and decentralized mix of new renewable and fossil-based electricity generation. The central government has stated its intention of restarting Japan’s extensive commercial nuclear fleet to generate some 22% of electricity by 2030, and the Abe administration enjoys a high approval rating despite its support for atomic energy. Nevertheless social pressure, lawsuits, and stricter government regulation have slowed the restart processes in Japan and accelerated non nuclear renewables. In 2015 alone, developers installed solar capacity cable of 13 TWh. Citizens, NGOs, and private sector firms have recently started a Fukushima Renewable Energy Fund to help locals in that prefecture create energy cooperatives and install solar panels and wind turbines. Japan has also intensified efforts to reduce electricity consumption, initially pushing homeowners and firms to reduce electricity use by some 15%. As a result, Japan has undertaken both decentralization and diversification of power, building investments in renewable generation and efficiency measures and also increasingly relying on fossil fuels for power generation.
The evolving post-Fukushima energy landscapes in Germany and Japan demonstrate a series of non-technical social benefits that have come from moves to smaller scale, localized production. Citizen creation of solar and wind cooperatives in Japan has built local control and ownership of power supplies. Multiple communities in Germany, like the rural town of Feldheim southwest of Berlin, have become self-reliant; Feldheim built its own local grid, a park of wind turbines and locally produced biogas providing more energy than the town uses. Towns have come to see the value of community-based distributed renewable systems, which is far more than the electricity cost savings. As individuals, households and communities come to appreciate the power of renewable self-sufficiency and local resilience, a new kind of energy empowerment is emerging. The concept of “energy democracy” captures this positive social justice impact of distributing ownership and economic benefits of renewable and decentralized energy systems and highlighting the broader societal value of local self-reliance.
In addition to decentralization, post-Fukushima growth in renewables has brought to the fore the benefits of having a diversity of energy options. Solar has strong potential almost anywhere depending on the geography and orientation, while the generation potential of wind, biomass, and geothermal is more location-specific. Compared to nuclear or fossil-fuel based power plants, renewable-based energy offers potential for diverse and heterogeneous, place-based, context-specific electricity generation. Renewables offer heterogeneity in scale (from small to large), generation (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, tidal, wave, etc), ownership (from individual to corporate) and space (how the technology is distributed on the landscape).
As the renewable energy transition accelerates post-Fukushima, market developments are challenging previously established assumptions about nuclear and fossil fuel electricity. The plummeting price of uranium provides one sign that a strong nuclear resurgence is unlikely. The uranium spot market shows a decline in price starting after Fukushima and continuing until today – from high near $136 in 2007 down to less than $25 a pound in early 2017. Fossil fuels also face choppy waters from divestment movements, strong opposition to natural gas pipelines, and increased concern about health and other social costs of carbon.
The 3/11 disasters have resulted in unanticipated benefits to energy innovation in both Japan and Germany. These post-Fukushima energy changes involve more citizens, activate more power producers, and incubate more technologies than staying the course would have. These positive experiences of renewable energy decentralization and diversification, coupled with the efforts to reduce electricity consumption, mesh with national and international climate mitigation efforts and renewable energy transitions.
Daniel P. Aldrich is professor and director of the Security and Resilience Studies program at Northeastern University. Jennie C. Stephens is the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University.
Northeastern labor economist Alicia Sasser Modestino is leading a multi-year study with the Boston Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development to shed light on what works for summer jobs programs, as well as what works for whom, under what conditions, and why. Through this researcher-practitioner partnership, they launched a formal evaluation of the Boston SYEP program during the summer of 2015.
Phase I of the research, The Potential for Summer Youth Employment Programs to Reduce Inequality: What Do We Know?, has been completed based on an initial pilot survey of Boston SYEP participants conducted during the summer of 2015. The results indicate that in the short term, the Boston program impacts teens in many of the ways that it was designed to: participants reported improvements in job readiness skills, post-secondary aspirations, and community engagement.
“Overall, these trends are encouraging, particularly because the largest gains were for minority youth,” said Modestino, associate director of the Dukakis Center, and associate professor of public policy, urban affairs and economics. “These initial results have enhanced our understanding of the short-term successes of the Boston SYEP, but they also underscore the need to integrate administrative data on long-term outcomes to evaluate the program’s impact over time.”
According to Modestino, it is unclear whether the self-reported improvements in job readiness, academic aspirations and social engagement will result in increased employment, greater academic achievement, or reductions in delinquent and criminal behavior down the road. Policymakers, she said, are increasingly seeking to use the SYEP as a vehicle to help disadvantaged youth long after their summer experiences.
The most recent phase of the study tests whether the Boston SYEP can affect longer-term outcomes using administrative data from criminal justice records. Specifically, Modestino seeks to assess the impact of early work experience provided by the Boston SYEP on the behavioral outcomes of low-income, inner-city youth and crime.
“In addition to providing youth with additional income, early work experience can affect behavioral outcomes in the short-run by developing ‘soft’ skills such as self-efficacy and impulse control and strengthening social bonds through mentoring and community-based jobs,” she said. “In the long-run, having a summer job can make crime a relatively less attractive option by providing youth with the tools and experience needed to navigate the job market on their own and raising their aspirations for future career options and/or postsecondary education.”
Modestino’s multi-year study has, she says, three “arms:” measuring the baseline impact of the program and whether the effects endure beyond the first year, the effect of multiple years of participation, and the relationship between short-term program effects achieved during the summer and subsequent longer-term outcomes. Longer-term outcomes include improvements in employment and wages, academic achievement, and criminal activity that occur during 2-7 years after participation, she said.
Modestino and her team are currently collecting data on school performance using administrative records from the Boston Public Schools to determine whether the increased academic aspirations observed during the summer jobs program translates into improved school performance in terms of attendance, grade point average, test scores, and college matriculation. Researchers also hope to access wage record data collected by the state to test whether improving job readiness skills through the Boston SYEP leads to greater likelihood of employment and/or higher wages the following year.
“Considering cost and other factors, these types of impacts are likely to be of interest to policymakers deciding whether to expand the SYEP within the city of Boston,” Modestino said. “Similarly, setting a threshold for long-term wage outcomes such as having a job that pays a ‘living’ wage would be in line with the city’s goals to shift the workforce development system away from the traditional rapid job placement model to one that invests in placing people—especially youth—on a career pathway with both wage progression and advancement opportunity.”
Since its inception in 1990, the Boston SYEP has become a national model bringing together city, state, and private funding of nearly $10 million per year to support summer youth employment. The program employs annually about 10,000 youth, between 14 and 24 years old, with roughly 900 local employers. They work a maximum of 25 hours per week for a six-week period that begins just after July 4. Compared to other cities with similar programs—such as Chicago and New York—the Boston SYEP incorporates two distinct program features that may further enhance outcomes, Modestino said: a high share of job placements with private sector employers, and an intensive career-readiness curriculum. Consequently, youth in the Boston SYEP have broader employer networks, expanded knowledge of career paths, enhanced job application and interview techniques, and improved soft skills to successfully maintain employment compared to youth in other cities.
“Because disadvantaged youth face multiple obstacles in obtaining early work experiences, the Boston SYEP may be an important intervention that is improving opportunity,” Modestino said.
With less than a month until graduation, the teams are wrapping up their research and getting ready for their capstone presentations on Wednesday, April 26, at 5 p.m. in the Curry Student Center Ballroom.
Here, we introduce you to the 10 teams and their capstone projects.
SPPUA students Grace Ndalla-Watino, Christopher Crisanti and James Tarr have teamed up with three Harvard Graduate School of Design students, one architect student from MIT, and one Harvard Kennedy School student to compete in an Affordable Housing Development Competition, hosted annually by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.
Their mission is to develop an innovative affordable housing plan for David Hedison, executive director of the Chelmsford Housing Authority, who is interested in creating affordable housing for senior citizens on a 34-acre site owned by UMASS Lowell. The capstone team is proposing to replace the existing four dilapidated buildings with a multigenerational housing project.
“We have envisioned a project where retired seniors could be part of a vibrant community and have access to medical care and activities,” Ndalla-Watino said. “Our housing project will incorporate mixed-income rental units.”
As a public park in the vibrant city of Boston, Franklin Square Park has tremendous potential, but the city must first address several issues, including drug use and loitering. A team of students in the Master of Public Administration Program (MPA) are putting together a game plan to revitalize and safeguard the historical square.
Alejandro Manzanares, Tim Sullivan, Jason Romanello, and Joe Madden are developing a comprehensive plan for the revitalization of Franklin Square Park, which consists of three phases: stakeholder engagement and research, problem analysis, and a written policy brief of findings and recommendations.
“Our plan will outline a period of time during which this project will be executed. It is designed to provide the Blackstone Franklin Square Neighborhood Association with a detailed overview of the tasks identified in our scope of work,” the team said, adding, “as a tool for revitalization, parks can mitigate commercial downturn in an area, work to stabilize failing neighborhoods, improve air quality, create community bonds, serve as a city detox, and provide a center of gravity that residents and visitors can point to with pride.”
A 2008 report by the Boston Private Industry Council and Northeastern University found that only 35 percent of college students from the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Class of 2000 completed a postsecondary degree or credential. In response to the sobering news, Boston’s then Mayor Thomas Menino called on the city’s leaders to dramatically increase college completion for future BPS graduates. What emerged was Success Boston—an extraordinary coalition between BPS, the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, local nonprofits, the business community, and numerous local higher education institutions.
The signature intervention of Success Boston is transition coaching, through which students in their last year of high school are paired with adult professional coaches for the first two years of college. To accurately analyze the financial impacts of transition coaching, four MPA students—Brittany McClendon, Evan Berry, Wanda Jacobs, and Manny Alcantara— are preparing a literature review of relevant data, conducting interviews with identified key informants, and collecting and reviewing the financial documents of more than 15 institutions.
Their literature review will cover the impact of retention on colleges and universities, the effect of similar gateway and dual enrollment programs, and the impact of the changing population demographics on higher education enrollment. Key informants were provided by the Boston Foundation and interviewed by the capstone team. Interviews were also held with various partners of Success Boston including Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Bunker Hill Community College, USA Funds, and Northeastern University.
“To streamline the process of collecting and analyzing the financial records of institution, we decided to utilize last year’s (2015) financial records,” said McClendon. “We will synthesize the data to create an algorithm that can be applied to institutions to show the financial impact, per student, of transition coaching.”
The current Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website includes information regarding each educational option, but the department is looking to expand this foundation to include mapping and list generating capabilities. MPA students Cyntia Howard, Xiaoyu Fu, Edwin Harris, and Ashley Montgomery are designing a portal that will provide parents with information about the public educational options available to their students.
“In order to design a portal that best fits the needs of parents and students, our group is researching best practices from other cities and states for displaying information related to school choice,” said Howard. “We’ve also reached out to parents and other stakeholders to ask for their input on the design.”
In an interdisciplinary team of five, Scott Lyons, Jiawei Li, Matthew Macnabb, Allison Pena, and Sophonie Pierre are determining the most effective methods to restore and develop a historic cranberry screen house in Wareham, Mass., into a cranberry museum, while also developing low-income elderly housing to benefit the community.
Their client, A.D. Makepeace, is trying to perform responsible redevelopment in Wareham and surrounding communities. And the team is evaluating financial feasibility options, from development to operations, for the Cranberry museum plan and the land redevelopment elderly housing project at 477 and 481 Main St.
Lyons, Pena and Pierre are MPA students. Macnabb is a student in the MS in Urban Informatics (MSUI), and Li is enrolled in the MS in Urban and Regional Policy (MURP).
Four MPA students are working with the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development in Boston to help grow and mature the city’s Tuition Free Community College initiative into its second year of operation.
Myles Tucker, Lauren Jones, Anderson Marbun, and Ashley Waggonner are developing a data management concept, a program evaluation plan, and price-point based implementation tools to help Boston ensure that its program is targeting the right constituents, as well as encouraging a college-going culture in both students and their communities.
Three MPA students, Na Li, Yearam Kang and Ben Irwin, have blended their management and leadership skills with Antonio Vázquez Brust’s urban informatics expertise to assess the ability of cities to manage federal grant funding.
Their assignment is a continuation of a fall 2016 capstone project that investigated federal grant oversight and administration practices in cities. That team’s research led to a matrix of recommendations in three areas: organizational capacity, audit and oversight, and information technology. (Click here to learn more about the team’s findings and recommendations.)
This semester, students have picked up where the fall team left off, and they are researching municipal types and potential target audiences to develop a test survey. The survey was distributed to more than 200 cities nationwide, and the results will be used to prepare a final version of the survey along with an implementation guide and report for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
In 2016, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill into law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation. Within weeks of it taking effect, enough signatures were collected for a 2018 ballot question aimed at repealing the law.
Now, Sonya Bhabhalia, Brittany Morgan, Stephanie Apollon, Christine Salazar, and Ilona Prucha are attempting to understand the vulnerabilities the transgender population faces in Massachusetts. They are working with a faith organization to determine the implications of a repeal as well as effective education strategies for faith communities to understand them.
Two MPP students and an MPA student are developing a plan to measure the impact of housing affordability and housing supply on worker recruitment and retention for companies located in Greater Boston.
Jon Hillman, Sarah Tekleab and Wael Altali are working to further the policy work of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP), a public nonprofit affordable housing organization established in 1985 whose aim is to increase the state’s overall rate of housing production, as well as work with cities and towns to demonstrate new and better ways of meeting the need for affordable housing. Their research will aid MHP policy work aimed at understanding the connection between housing cost and availability and economic growth.
Five MPA students have teamed up with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) to determine the role food pantries play in food security for low-income individuals in the Greater Boston area.
Rachel Spero, Hessah AlKanan, Gladys Leyva, Joseph Ritchie, and Koeran Queen are gathering data about ABCD food pantries through focus groups with a sample of food pantry customers and Brown Bag programs, as well as customers of select external food pantries across Greater Boston. They are also conducting a literature review to explore the history of food pantries, how they obtain food, who accesses food pantries, and other existing models of food delivery. The goal is to better understand strategies and systems ABCD might employ to maximize efficiencies that provide high quality food pantry services to their customers.
“We are conducting an environmental scan of food banks, food pantries and any other food delivery organizations in the Greater Boston area that provide food to low-income populations,” the team said.
By Joan Fitzgerald | The American Prospect
On March 28, President Trump signed an executive order to repeal President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which mandated emission reductions from power companies (an estimated 650 million tons by 2025 alone). But since 29 states plus Washington, D.C., have set requirements to adopt more renewable energy (known as renewable portfolio standards), how much impact will Trump’s order have?
Despite Trump’s embrace of coal, there is a fair amount of evidence that too many states are too far along on a renewable energy path for Trump to reverse their momentum. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that the states that have set goals for adopting renewable energy have collectively met 95 percent of their targets.
Solar production was up 95 percent in 2016 alone, and that followed several years of rapid expansion, according to GTE Research and the Solar Energy Industry Association. Indeed, in 2016, for the first time ever, solar was the top new source of electric power.
Wind energy is also setting records. The Department of Energy predicts that wind is on track to produce 20 percent of the nation’s power by 2030 and is displacing coal in many parts of the country.
On the jobs front, the Department of Energy calculates that clean energy jobs outnumber those in gas and coal by five to one. California alone has about 486,000 clean energy jobs and Massachusetts about 104,000. It’s not surprising that both states have proposals in their legislatures to move toward 100 renewables. California’s bill proposes 50 percent renewable by 2025 and 100 percent carbon free by 2045, while the Massachusetts bill proposes a 100 percent renewable grid by 2035. Who would want to stop this train?
The short answer, of course, is fossil-fuel interests. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the organization of right-wing state legislators funded by the Koch brothers, the American Petroleum Institute, and others, has been working since at least 2012 to reverse states’ renewable portfolio standards.
ALEC writes model legislation for state legislatures, and at least 15 state legislatures, following ALEC’s lead, proposed reducing, freezing, or repealing portfolio standards, in 2013. The failure of most of these bills suggests that ALEC is running into a green wall, even in conservative states. The reason is also green—the money being made from renewables.
In 2014, Ohio’s legislature voted to freeze its portfolio standard. Republican Governor John Kasich signed the bill, but when the freeze came up for renewal in late 2016, Kasich vetoed it—pointing to Ohio’s record of having more clean energy jobs (100,000) than any other Midwestern state.
In the same year, ALEC-influenced legislatures in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, and New Mexico were not successful in weakening state portfolio standards or reducing the funds homeowners get for selling excess solar energy back to the utility. ALEC will doubtless keep trying, but it seems that states don’t want to forgo the jobs and economic development that renewable energy is creating.
Renewable energy isn’t the only climate-related arena in which Trump is undoing President Obama’s gains. Fulfilling his pledge to roll back the Obama administration’s carefully negotiated fuel efficiency standards, in March President Trump requested that the Environmental Protection Agency review the standards that would have required an fleet average efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
California has had numerous waivers over the years that allow it to impose higher auto efficiency standards because of the severity of its auto emissions. Other states are free to adopt California’s standards and 13 states have. What this means is that California sets national standards because car companies don’t want to make different models for different markets. The Obama administration’s guidelines would have put the rest of the country in line with California.
In testimony before Congress, EPA Director Scott Pruitt stated that he would consider preempting California’s waiver, which would require changing the Clean Air Act under which the waiver was originally granted. California’s right to impose higher standards is legislative, not constitutional. California has retained Eric Holder to provide legal advice on options to fight this and other preemption battles. But as Harold Meyerson points out in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect, even if California loses its waiver, the state could still impose higher sales taxes on cars that don’t meet high efficiency standards—having the same effect as the waiver.
The bottom line is that there are going to be many battles ahead between the federal government and states and cities wanting to move forward on renewable energy and vehicle efficiency. States and cities are preparing. On March 22, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington, along with mayors from five of their leading cities, signed an agreement to assert that they would not back down from their clean energy investments and targets. Other states and mayors will join them. At the city level, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who now chairs the Global Covenant of Mayors, pledges that the 128 U.S. member cities will continue with the Paris Accord regardless of the federal government’s position.
The Trump administration is ceding our leadership in clean technologies in favor of a long declining coal industry. China is ready to seize that leadership. It will be up to states and cities to claw it back.
Joan Fitzgerald is a professor of public policy and urban affairs at Northeastern University, a faculty associate at the Resilient Cities Lab, and senior research associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. She focuses on urban climate governance and the connections between urban sustainability and economic development and innovation. Joan is currently working on a new book, Greenovation: Urban Leadership on Climate Change.
By Betsy Gardner
Last month I had the honor of representing my fall 2016 capstone group at “Leaving Money on the Table: The Challenge of Unspent Federal Grants,” a Washington D.C. roundtable co-hosted by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found $994 million “left on the table” in the form of undisbursed federal grants. This means that almost $1 billion intended for block grants, infrastructure, education, and other municipal priorities is sitting unused in grant accounts. Why is this happening? It could be the result of funds that have been awarded by a federal agency but have not yet been drawn down by the grantee, or grants that have yet to be formally “disbursed” by a federal agency.
Although the GAO and a few senators have highlighted their concern regarding unspent funds, this issue has not been very thoroughly researched and is just beginning to receive more comprehensive attention. Therefore, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, an independent nonpartisan organization focused on land use planning and municipal finance, tasked our capstone team, composed of four students from the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (SPPUA) at Northeastern University, to research federal grant oversight and administration practices in cities. Team members include Joe Russo, Annaise Fourneau, Andrew Bryant, and myself.
The investigative report we wrote included a literature review, four city case studies and a matrix of recommendations based on our research findings. Our team explored the issue of unspent grant money from a municipal perspective and sought to identify the root causes of the unspent funds in order to inform training and education around the best methods for federal grant management, utilization, and close out.
Our methodological approach classified cities by geography, fiscal health, financial practices, and dependency on federal grant awards. This diverse picture gave snapshots of a recovering city, responsible city, regional city, and responsive city. We classified the cities based on data from federal and city audits, reports by the GAO and Congressional Research Service, and the Fiscally Standardized Cities database. Additionally, we conducted interviews with public officials, consultants, and experts on municipal fiscal health.
Our initial research led to a matrix of recommendations in three areas: organizational capacity, audit and oversight, and information technology. Despite the varied classifications, each case study city experienced challenges in those three areas, which prevented them from using the federal funding they were awarded.
On March 7, the Lincoln Institute co-hosted “Leaving Money on the Table: The Challenge of Unspent Federal Grants” with the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Council of Development Finance Agencies to deepen the discussion among various levels of government, nonprofits, and the private sector. The goal was to explore the challenges of unspent federal grants in the context of the intergovernmental transfers system in the United States. I presented on the first panel, “The Federal Grant Process and Emerging Scholarship,” with Tom Jones, of the GAO, and Natalie Keegan, of the Congressional Research Service. Jenna DeAngelo, a program manager at the Lincoln Institute and recent SPPUA alumna, moderated the panel.
Our capstone team’s original research was of particular interest at the roundtable, as it provided a perspective that was lacking in both the academic community and the federal government, and shed some much-needed light on the reasons why some grant money isn’t being spent.
A consistent theme from the day was the immense work still to be done on unspent grants. All of the panelist and the audience were energized and passionate about continuing the effort sparked by Lincoln’s leadership on this issue. Over the course of the day many attendees spoke with myself, Joe Russo and Annaise Fourneau, about the importance of our research. Andrew Bryant, the fourth member of our group, was not able to attend the event as he is in active Army duty at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
Although we graduated in December 2016, this important work continues to be carried forward by a current group of SPPUA students, who are surveying cities’ federal grant challenges as part of their spring capstone project with the Lincoln Institute. It will be very exciting to see how all our work raises awareness and contributes solutions to the challenges of unspent federal grants.
Betsy Gardner is a graduate of the MS in Urban and Regional Policy Program, and currently works in Boston as a facilitator, consultant, and mediator. She specializes in conflict resolution and women’s economic development. Betsy has worked with the New England Patriots, MIT Sloan School of Management, the U.S. Coast Guard, Major League Baseball, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.