Agendas for Change: Making Government Work Better

Agendas for Change 

To see ideas from NewDEAL Leaders on a wide range of topics, visit the NewDEAL Ideas Portal, and visit our new Ideas Challenge Hub for more resources.

Following up on NewDEAL's Ideas Summit and in setting the stage for this year's New Ideas Challenge, we are continuing to spotlight NewDEAL Leaders' efforts to expand opportunity. Across the country, Leaders are using innovative approaches to make government work better, like using data and technology, as well as creating public-private partnerships, to improve services. This month's Spotlight highlights a few of those efforts. 


Making Government Work Better


Data-Driven Solutions


Greg Fischer
Louisville, KY


Pete Buttigieg
South Bend, IN


Public-Private Partnerships for Effective Governance


Robyn Tannehill
Oxford, MS


Warwick Sabin
Little Rock, AR


Government Support for the Right to Vote


Alex Padilla
Secretary of State,


Lee Harris
Senate Minority Leader,
Memphis, TN


Data- Driven Solutions


Why It's Important

As the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this year, big-data technologies are beginning to transform the way cities work, and have the potential to solve a host of challenges, like making it easier for residents to find parking places, guiding health inspectors to high-risk restaurants or giving smoke alarms to the households that are most likely to suffer fatal fires.

NewDEAL Leadership

In reviewing top ways that governments are putting data to use, the Journal highlighted Louisville, where Mayor Greg Fischer’s city has provided GPS-enabled sensors to more than 1,000 residents with asthma to create a map of hotspots where breathing difficulties occur. The city uses the data to implement policies to address the source of these hotspots and to help respiratory therapists teach patients how to better manage their condition.

In Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's S.BEND Reports initiative involves an open data portal which provides access to manageable and relevant information on the performance of South Bend services. The City tracks neighborhood priorities and gathers data about city services like the Vacant and Abandoned Home Initiative, Code Enforcement, or the total amount of litter removed from illegal dumping, while allowing citizens to engage in finding solutions. Results include an increase in compliance with Code Violations, which reduces city operational costs.   


Public-Private Partnerships for Effective Governance


Why It's Important

As a Brookings report on infrastructure projects states, partnerships, especially those that leverage private-sector financial resources and expertise, are increasingly valuable in a time of constrained public budgets. Public-private partnerships can have tremendous value across a wide variety of government responsibilities with the right leadership in place to ensure deals with the private sector are made in the public interest. 

NewDEAL Leadership

Mayor Robyn Tannehill formed a coalition of community partners in Oxford, MS to address an affordable housing crisis for the city’s workforce, which has struggled to afford the highest real estate costs in the state. Through a bipartisan group of community partners, the initiative ultimately earned $15,000,000 in federal funding, supported by traditional debt taken out by local developers. A nonprofit is working with officials to make sure there are no funding gaps “by layering traditional bank lending with federal housing tax credits.” As a result, Oxford will soon be home to ninety-six high quality new construction homes – all in walking distance of local amenities – at zero cost to the local government.

Representative Warwick Sabin passed legislation authorizing and enabling public-private partnerships to support Arkansas infrastructure. The bill encourages competition, while also providing a statutory framework for government entities to solicit private capital and investment, as well as a mechanism for government to capture the value it creates in increased real estate values and economic activity through a revenue sharing arrangement with developers.


Government Support for the Right to Vote


Why It's Important

Democratic governments have a sacred responsibility to ensure a well-run elections system that allows citizens the opportunity they deserve to exercise the right to vote. However, as some states have passed voter-ID and other restrictive laws that can only make it harder to vote, leadership is required to address low participation. Turnout in last year’s election puts the U.S. behind most of its peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, most of whose members are highly developed, democratic states. America ranks 28 out of 35 nations.

NewDEAL Leadership

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has launched a voter pre-registration program targeted at 16- and 17-year-olds to encourage more young people to vote once they turn 18. Young voters have the lowest voter turnout of any age group, and pre-registration can help increase those numbers. Eligible youth can pre-register to vote online.

Senator Lee Harris co-sponsored legislation in Tennessee authorizing online registration. The state’s website now allows eligible residents to register in as little as 90 seconds.

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