Summer 2015 Project Proposals

Ash Center Summer Fellows in Innovation spend the summer working side by side with the some of the most innovative public servants in the nation. Below is the list of opportunities for Summer 2015. Please check back again throughout January as additional opportunities will be added.

The Summer Fellowship program also considers positions and projects identified by students, either on their own or through an Ash Center contact. Please contact Tim Glynn-Burke with inquires.

Please note that the application deadline is Sunday, February 8th, 2015. The Common App is expected to open on Monday, January 26th.

Cities:

Boston, MA
Chicago, IL
Denver, CO
Los Angeles, CA
Milwaukee, WI
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Portland, OR
San Francisco, CA

Federal Agencies:

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Code for America
Department of Labor
General Services Administration





































Boston, MA

 

Evaluating Parking Pilots
Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

In 2014 & 2015, the City launched four experiments in the use of technology to improve parking & mobility. This fellowship will be focused on doing an evaluation of each experiment. The fellow will document the experiment, examine the available data, interview relevant stakeholders, and summarize the results.

Those experiments include TicketZen (a mobile app for paying parking tickets), ParkBoston (a mobile app for paying park meters), Parker/Streetline (a mobile app for finding parking and a dashboard for transportation planners to see parking patterns) and Time to Destination Signs (signs offering real-time information on parking in Boston).

Reports to: Director, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
Read more:http://newurbanmechanics.org/boston/

 

Evaluating Citizens Connect 3.9
Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

In 2014, the City of Boston added a feature within Citizens Connect that allows residents to see (in some cases) a photo of the work done by City work crews in response to their service request. It also allows residents to see a photo of the work crew itself.

We would like to know the impact that these features have on users of Citizens Connect and on City staff. Does a more personal response encourage people to respond more? What matters more: a closed photo or team photo? Does taking a closed photo or having a team photo change what a work crew feels about the work they are doing?

The fellow will examine the data, interview the stakeholders and summarize the results.

Reports to: Director, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
Read more:http://newurbanmechanics.org/boston/

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Online Permitting and Licensing
Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

Permitting and licensing is one of the most common ways that businesses owners, and Bostonians at large, interact with the City of Boston. Streamlining these interactions has, and will continue to be, a priority of Mayor Walsh and his administration. In December, the City announced its partner to build a better online permitting and licensing system focused small business and homeowners on who do not have the resources to hire an attorney and/or permit expediters. By August, the City will deploy its first release of a modern system that meets Boston’s high standards for innovation and usability.

An Ash center fellow is sought to create evaluation metrics for this project, evaluate the impact of the first release of the portal, and make recommendations for the future releases of the project. The fellow will have the opportunity to interview individuals involved in this process and talk to other cities that have undergone similar regulatory reform efforts across the country.

Reports to: Director, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
Read more:http://newurbanmechanics.org/boston/

 

Boston Citywide Plan
Boston Redevelopment Authority

The Boston Redevelopment Authority Research department strives to understand the current environment of the city to produce quality research and targeted information that will inform and benefit the residents and businesses of Boston. The BRA's Research department compiles and analyzes current, historical, and comparative data on the city of Boston. The department conducts research on Boston's economy, population, and commercial markets for all departments of the BRA, the city of Boston, and related organizations. The Ash Center Summer Fellow would work under the supervision of the Director of Research, and contribute to the ongoing research for the Citywide Plan. The Fellow will research and contribute to analysis of Boston's demographics, business and industry, development, housing, income, and poverty. The Fellow's final deliverable will be a presentation describing the analysis and potential impact this will have on the citywide planning process.

Reports to: Director of Research, Boston Redevelopment Authority
Read more: http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org/research-maps/research-publications/

 

Implementing Innovation in Three Gateway Cities

This fellow will work closely with three mid-sized Massachusetts cities: Chelsea, Lawrence and Fitchburg. The project, supervised by HKS Professor Jorrit de Jong, will be to help these three cities implement the innovations created by Professor de Jong’s Field Lab in Innovation Module (MLD 621M Spring, 2015 - Module 4). The fellow will partner with these “gateway cities” to evaluate and improve innovative use of data and perform a comparative analysis of collaborative governance and performance leadership.

Read more: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/degrees/teaching-courses/course-listing/mld-621m





































Chicago, IL

 

Regulatory Reform
Law Department of the City of Chicago

Analysis of current fines and penalties for the purpose of streamlining and making the current municipal code less confusing and more easily disposed to online use. Specifically, in 2015, the City of Chicago will move to an online pre-payment of fines and penalties. To make online pre-payment workable, current fines and penalties will need to be adjusted and ranges removed so that computer databases can manage and collect fines online. Regulatory Reform involves re-thinking the role of regulation in local government. The mission of regulatory reform is (1) to look back at current regulations with an eye to simplification, by reviewing current ordinance, rules, and regulations to assure that they are the least intrusive to economic growth while ensuring public health and safety; and (2) to look forward by creating standards and protocols to guide city departments, businesses, and the public, giving them certainty and guidance to do their work without over-regulation by local government.

Work assignments will include review and assessment of sections of the municipal code along with data entry of such assessment into an electronic database for review, comparison, and analysis.

Reports to: Special Deputy for Regulatory Reform, Law Department of the City of Chicago
Read more:http://newurbanmechanics.org/boston/





































Denver, CO

 

Pioneering the Marijuana Industry: Policy, Regulation, and Enforcement
Denver Office of Marijuana Policy

Denver is pioneering the legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana and our efforts are well on their way to becoming the gold standard as similar circumstances arise nationwide. There are many unanswered questions surrounding economic impact and forecasting, land use, job growth and career development, taxation, and the societal impacts of marijuana legalization.

The fellow will work directly with the Denver Office of Marijuana Policy, as well as multiple city agencies, including Excise & Licenses, Police, City Attorney’s Office, Community Planning & Development, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, and the Fire Department. The fellow will also participate in activity with city partners such as the State of Colorado, Denver Health, and Denver Public Schools.

Reports to: Executive Director, Office of Marijuana Policy

























Los Angeles, CA

 

Sustainable LA
Mayor's Office of Sustainability
Los Angeles has released its first ever Sustainable City Plan, which brings together long-term goals and near-term outcomes in the spheres of the environment, the economy and social equity in order to deliver an improved quality of life for residents of the world's 14th largest city. The Mayor's Office of Budget and Innovation and the Mayor's Office of Sustainability is seeking an Ash Center fellow with strong quantitative skills and a passion for sustainability to integrate the objectives of the Sustainability Plan into the City's budget process, the Mayor's annual performance review of departmental general managers, and internally and externally facing performance dashboards. Setting up a process for the plan's annual update will also be a priority.


Open LA
Mayor's Office of Data, Information Technology Agency
The City of Los Angeles is committed to being open, accountable, and data-driven. With the recent appointment of a Chief Data Officer, the Mayor's Office has dedicated resources to ensure that that commitment is real. The Office of Data is seeking a fellow to focus on one of two key areas of opportunity: 1) leveraging existing open data for community-based innovation; and 2) analyzing city data for insight and analytics to optimize city performance. The Mayor's Office has a unique role in pushing innovation in the city, and we are seeking participants to help execute our shared vision.

























Milwaukee, WI

 

City of Milwaukee Strong Neighborhoods Plan – Analytics and Accountability
Office of Mayor Tom Barrett

The fellow will work with Mayor’s Office staff and City departments to develop a collection and distribution hub for performance data on the Strong Neighborhoods Plan – a slate of City programs to fight foreclosure and sell City-owned properties. The fellow will design a system to aggregate and simplify existing performance data on a range of City efforts; reduce barriers to collecting that data; and make that information regularly and easily available for a wide range of users. Success will rely heavily on the fellow’s data analysis abilities as well as creativity.

Reports to: Housing Policy Director, Mayor's Office
Read More: http://city.milwaukee.gov/Directory/mayor/Initiatives/SNP.htm





































New Orleans, LA

 

Open Data for Performance Management: Improving a City Web Platform through Usability Testing

City of New Orleans’ Office of Performance and Accountability

This project with the City of New Orleans’ Office of Performance and Accountability (OPA) will provide a Fellow with the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with government innovation, open data, performance management, and usability testing. OPA promotes better services to citizens by utilizing data to develop operational improvements, make better-informed policy decisions, build trust in government, and promote accountability for delivering results. OPA manages a portfolio of STAT programs (including BlightSTAT - recognized as an Ash Center “Bright Idea in Government”) and ResultsNOLA, a quarterly report that tracks performance management data for all city departments and progress toward city goals. OPA is currently working to make the data that fuels its performance management initiatives available online via an interactive web platform. The Fellow’s project will involve conducting usability testing for the web platform with actual citizens and city employees to ensure that the platform makes it easy to access and understand the data. The fellow will receive instruction on conducting usability testing, so no prior experience with usability testing is necessary. The final deliverable for the project will be a report of findings from the usability testing and recommendations for improvements to the web platform.

Reports to: Director, Office of Performance and Accountability
Read more: http://www.nola.gov/performance-and-accountability/

 

Use open data to benchmark performance metrics

City of New Orleans’ Office of Performance and Accountability

Most large US cities at this point have open data initiatives. Are there enough similar datasets across those open data cities to allow for benchmarking performance? If so, on what measures? Extra credit: Write some code (preferably in R or Python) to allow for regular reporting of these data. The City of New Orleans Office of Performance and Accountability (OPA) and cities across the country, would use this data to help compare our performance amongst peer jurisdictions. OPA promotes better City services through data-driven management decision-making and accountability for delivering results to citizens. We accomplish this by working with departments to set performance goals, track performance throughout the year, and use performance data to identify and develop solutions for operational and policy challenges.

Reports to: Director, Office of Performance and Accountability
Read more: http://www.nola.gov/performance-and-accountability/





































New York, NY

 

Mayor's Innovation Equity Fund
Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation

In 2013, Bill de Blasio was elected Mayor of New York City on a platform that centered on tackling income inequality and creating new opportunities for all New Yorkers. This core mission drives much of our day-to-day work and key priorities – from the expansion of early education to new strategies for affordable housing and economic growth. To help support the development of new innovative businesses and startups in outer borough communities, Mayor de Blasio has proposed creation of a NYC Innovation Equity Fund, directing a small portion of the City’s pension funds to strategic investments in outer borough startups that might not otherwise have access to seed capital and early and middle stage financing that is vital to their growth. This fellowship would help kickstart that effort by assessing the current investment landscape, researching comparable models from around the world, and developing the framework, systems and processes to define and structure the operations of this new NYC Innovation Equity Fund. The outcome of this fellowship would be a resolution and implementation plan that could be presented to the City’s pension funds and Chief Pensions Administrator.

Reports to: Director of Innovation, Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation

International Innovator-in-Residence Program
Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation

The Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation is tasked with making New York City the most tech-friendly and innovative city in the world. To achieve this goal, it is essential that the City leverages innovative work and top talent from around the world. Whereas programs like the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) have established a strong model by which private sector leaders to take a sabbatical from their day-to-day work and join government, few programs exist to recruit and place top government talent internationally. We would like to change this. This HKS summer fellowship would be focused on developing and helping to launch an international innovator-in-residence program in the City of New York by which top government staff from around the world would be recruited to take time off, relocate to New York City and pilot/scale programs that they have implemented in their home country. The outcome of this fellowship would be the establishment of this new program and outreach to recruit the first group of international innovators-in-residence.

Reports to: Director of Innovation, Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation

Small Business First
Department of Small Business Services, Mayor’s Office of Operations

Small Business First is a new initiative led by the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the Mayor’s Office of Operations in coordination with over 15 City agencies to improve the regulatory climate in New York City. The initiative builds upon previous reforms and seeks to make changes that will assist businesses by:

Providing clear and accessible information and communicate in one voice in all neighborhoods
Partnering with businesses
Reducing the burden imposed by complex regulations and fines
Ensuring equal access for all New Yorkers

The students would be helping during the implementation phase of the initiative. The initiative is detailed in a report that will be made public shortly.

Reports to: Senior Policy Analyst, Department of Small Business Services
Read more:http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/html/home/home.shtml





































Philadelphia, PA

 

Philadelphia's My Brother's Keeper Challenge
Office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter

In September 2014, President Obama issued a challenge to cities, towns, counties and tribes across America to become MBK Communities. The challenge encourages these communities to implement a coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategy for improving life outcomes of all young people to ensure that they can reach their full potential. Mayor Michael A. Nutter accepted the President’s MBK challenge knowing that fewer than half of the children in the School District of Philadelphia are advanced or proficient in reading by the 3rd grade, more than half of Philadelphia teens have a child, 25.6% of young Philadelphians over 16 are unemployed and 19.1% of young Philadelphians die by homicide.

In response to President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Challenge, the Mayor’s Office is looking to (1) ensure all relevant stakeholders within Philadelphia are working collaboratively towards achieving the MBK Challenge Goals; (2) ensure appropriate funding for MBK Challenge related activities; (3) collect data relevant to MBK challenge and communicate it to the larger Philadelphia community; (4) develop and implement a robust communications strategy that utilizes in-person, online, and print mediums to communicate the progress Philadelphia is making towards the MBK Challenge.

The Fellow will be responsible for ensuring ongoing completion of one or more of these goals, in partnership with community and government stakeholders.

Reports to: Policy Director, Office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter
Read more: https://mbkphilly.wordpress.com/





































Portland, OR

 

East Portland Action Plan (EPAP) Progress Assessment
City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement

The Ash Center Fellow would work with staff from the Portland Mayor’s Office and the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement and representatives of the community-lead EPAP Advocacy Project to assess the progress of city agencies in implementing the action items in the East Portland Action Plan and develop recommendations on how to improve and hasten city bureau implementation of the remaining uncompleted action items.

The EPAP planning process was initiated in 2007 to respond to long-standing concerns about disparities in city services and strong community needs in East Portland. The Action Plan identified 63 strategies and 269 action items in five categories: Built Environment, Environment, Economic, Learning, and Social. Action items varied from relatively simple and straightforward to broad and complex.

A report to City Council in December 2014, recommended a one-time, more in-depth assessment of the progress implementing the EPAP action items that also would make recommendations on how to improve city agency implementation of the EPAP action items. The assessment project will involve EPAP, city bureaus, and other community, organizational, and jurisdictional partners in East Portland. The assessment will identify:

Which EPAP action items have been completed?

Which action items remain to be done? How far along are they?

What would constitute “complete” for each action item?

What will it take to complete each action item?

Are any action items no longer needed or appropriate?

Reports to: Policy Director, Portland Mayor’s Office and Neighborhood Program Coordinator, City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement

Read more:

EPAP Advocacy Project website: http://eastportlandactionplan.org/

ONI/EPAP Report to City Council: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/66645

























San Francisco, CA

 

Safety Dashboard

Mayor's Office
A number of city efforts affect public safety, from Vision Zero and traffic calming work, to department work within police, fire, building inspections, public health, and emergency management. While these efforts are comprehensive, they may appear fragmented from the citizen perspective, leading to periodic confusion about public safety issues.

The Safety Dashboard will build upon the existing Gov Barometer to provide a place to:
- View geographic and time trends on public safety issues such as crime, pedestrian safety, police and ambulance response times, vehicular accidents, etc
- Show progress against city performance targets related to public safety, e.g. Vision Zero

The Ash Center Summer Fellow will help identify the best datasets and visualizations for the dashboard, work to summarize and collect relevant information, develop content to support interpretation and analysis, and draft recommendations on performance metrics where appropriate.

Reports to: Chief Data Officer, Mayor’s Office

 

Strategic Open Data Releases

Mayor's Office

In San Francisco, we are moving beyond the simple publication of open datasets to using open data as a means to reveal and unpack complex policy areas such as affordable housing, homelessness, and economic development. Many areas of government service touch multiple departments through multiple programs. Our approach to strategic releases is to identify the various programs touching an issue, identify the administrative data about those programs, and then publish the data along with the program context. Our theory is that this will yield quick value from open datasets that may otherwise be released disparately and without broader context.

The Ash Center Summer Fellow will help develop our next strategic release which will involve reviewing and summarizing programs, identifying the program datasets, data summaries and visuals that best describe the program, and developing content and visualizations as appropriate.

Reports to: Chief Data Officer, Mayor’s Office
















Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Project description to come.

 

Code for America

Expanding GovNetwork's reach and content
-- Identify and research emerging open government trends and best practices that would be helpful and relevant to CfA's national network of digital government leaders.

-- Work with GovNetwork staff and members to understand the opportunities and challenges of sharing, scaling and replicating digital government practices between municipalities.
-- Distilling findings into actionable content for GovNetwork members, including sourcing and prioritizing ideas, engaging and interviewing outside experts, conducting background research, producing and publishing resources, and driving usage of those resources amongst the GovNetwork community.
Reports to: Content Director, Code for America

 

U.S. Department of Labor

Wage and Hour Division

Gauging the impact of WHD Strategic Communications

This fellowship will involve gauging the impact of WHD strategic communications on employer communities by answering:

- How does our use of communications (everything from traditional news releases to new efforts at social media) affect employer behavior / perceptions / perspectives?

- What metrics might be used to gauge responses (e.g. coverage by employer blogs; workplace attorneys; hr advisors; other measures)?

- We are particularly interested in the use of measures external to WHD (rather than our own data) to gauge impact.

The final deliverable will be a presentation of findings to senior staff at the Wage and Hour Division, and other interested departments.

Reports to: Assistant Administrator for Planning, Evaluation, and Communications

Identifying external data sets to gauge performance

This fellow will investigate what other performance measures, based on externally available data sets, might be useful metrics for gauging the overall impact of the Wage and Hour Division? We are already exploring a number of different national data sets on this front, but would be interested on tractable alternatives that would provide long term trend measures of labor standards.

Reports to: Assistant Administrator for Planning, Evaluation, and Communications

 

General Services Administration

18F

Project description to come.

Amelia Mann, 2013 Ash Center Summer Fellow