With more than 90,000 governments — think state, county, city — making up the U.S. government, it makes no sense that so many of them operate as silos. A new project wants to address this where issues of operational efficiency are concerned.
The Operational Excellence in Government project, from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center, “identifies operational efficiency themes across state and local governments” by pulling from over 200 state and local reports on efficiency — and allowing officials to see them side-by-side, or search them by topic. According to the project’s website, it aims to pinpoint cost saving opportunities, recommend proven efficiencies and provide implementation guidance. In short, it’s a kind of meta-report — about a bunch of reports.
On the front end, though, it also provides a searchable database, where officials can use keywords to see research that’s been done on any given topic, or search umbrella topics. Click on “Operations,” for example, and you’ll see related research about federal procurement and contractor team formation. Go to “Workforce Management” and you’ll get studies addressing things like public employee labor-management relations and public sector pension plans.
“No one argues against operational excellence and yet it is seldom the subject of headlines — there is typically a lot more attention paid to the ‘what’ of government than the ‘how,” an intro to a report on the project reads. “The opportunity is significant — a study by the consulting firm Accenture estimates that $995 billion in value could be created by 2025 if government in the US achieved a 1 percent annual efficiency gain in operations.”
The project was led by Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Awards program and a professor at Harvard Kennedy School. The full report can be viewed here, and the database is available to explore here.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.