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Innovation Perspectives

Chicago Confronts Procurement Reform and Finds the Hardest Part Still to Come

The Windy City is ahead of most places when it comes to making improvements to the way it buys goods and services. But the city's biggest challenge still lies ahead.

Most Government Procurement Has Got It All Wrong, These Advocates Say

Proponents of an approach known as Best Value Performance Information Procurement Systems say it could simplify government purchasing and deliver better results.

Funding Tomorrow's Inclusive Cities Today

A new guide for financing infrastructure allows cities to build on field-tested ideas.

As Cities Look At Options For Financing Infrastructure, They Keep An Eye Out For Low-Income Residents

Four cities -- Pittsburgh, St. Paul, the District of Columbia and San Francisco -- field-tested collaborative approaches to paying for things that cities need.

Smaller Cities Are Getting Smarter About How They Buy Things

Performance-based contracting has been a best practice in big cities for years. Now some mid-sized municipalities are adopting the approach.

Even Majority-Black Cities Struggle With Minority Contracting Programs

Just how much should race be taken into account in city purchasing?

A Conversation with Cities: Mayors on Closing Gaps in Infrastructure and Economic Opportunity

Four mayors reflect on their attempts to better meet the infrastructure needs of low-income residents.

With Procurement Strategy, Charlotte, N.C., Seeks to Address Past Racial Bias

Officials want to create more opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses.

For Procurement Reform, Cities See Value in Learning What's Worked Elsewhere

Lots of cities want to increase their outreach to women- and minority-owned businesses. Often, that means taking a look at the best programs in other jurisdictions.

How Can Cities Boost Minority-Owned Businesses? By Buying from Minority-Owned Businesses

Building on reforms in places like Atlanta, five new cities are now working to make their procurement strategies more inclusive.

The Smartest Thing in Federal Infrastructure Plan? More Credit.

Expanded credit programs could help cities innovate new financing solutions for much-needed projects.

Engaging Low-Income Residents for More Effective Government

What the Evaluators Saw: What the Cities Did, How They Did It, and Why It Matters

Reflections on Innovation

Some observations after nearly four years of reporting on the City Accelerator

Five Cities That are Buying into Equity

New City Accelerator initiative looks to drive inclusive economic opportunity through procurement.

The Perils of Procurement

Why things are not so simple in the world of government purchasing

The Transformation from Convict to Councilwoman

The story of Demetrus Coonrod reinforces the efforts of Baltimore to engage citizens returning from incarceration.

Civic Engagement Success

We revisit Atlanta’s efforts to include its low-income residents in a major capitol redevelopment project.

Innovation Stands the Test of Time

A look back at the three cities that started it all reveals ideas worth stealing and replicating.

Moving Forward Without the Feds

The infrastructure finance cohort convening in Washington, D.C., proved that local ingenuity combined with the right partners can push projects ahead.

How Roanoke Rocks Civic Engagement

The city proves that a “one-man show” mixed with a little creativity and innovation is sometimes all it takes to connect with the public.

Leveraging the Buying Power of Cities

In the City Accelerator's new Cohort IV, cities will use innovation to increase procurement and economic opportunity.

Pittsburgh Steps Up

How the city turned adversity into advantage to help tackle a unique infrastructure challenge

Equity: Trending but Not Trendy

Equity is not a new word to public policy discussion but its recent popularity reflects a change in perspective

Improving Water Quality Doesn’t Have to Wash Away Budgets

Saint Paul’s “shared and stacked” approach ensures its stormwater management projects reap multiple benefits for the community.

Bringing It Home

Even communities far away can face familiar challenges and offer replicable solutions.

Living in an Age of ‘What Ifs’

Cities in the infrastructure cohort get ready to reconvene to find innovative answers to pressing questions

Educate, Embed, Empower: Turning Small Interventions into Ongoing Improvement

How the City of Philadelphia is using the City Accelerator to apply proven techniques and operate more efficiently and effectively.

What It Means to Get Engaged: A Roadmap for Cities

New resources available for cities that aim to develop and kick-start a robust public engagement strategy.

A Conversation with Cities: Mayors on Catalyzing Collaboration & Engaging Citizens

How cities are tapping into their strongest natural resource -- their citizens.

What Does President Trump Mean for Our Nation's Infrastructure?

The infamous Wollman Rink project might provide a clue.

Making Changes in Flight: Creating New Models for Infrastructure in Land Development

The private sector doesn't have to pay a price to be green.

Public Engagement, the Seattle Way

The cohort 2 city is sharpening tools and building trust.

Moving from Process to Results: Growing a Culture of Innovation in City Government

What the Evaluators Saw: What the Cities Did, How They Did It, and Why It Matters

Bureaucracy Gives Way to Innovation: The Nashville Model

How Nashville Metro pivoted toward the future

Lessons From the Field for and by Civic Innovation Teams

The experience of Louisville, Nashville, and Philadelphia can inform the work of innovation teams in your city.

Accelerate This: City Hall meets Shark Tank

How They Did It: Nashville

Podcast: Building a New Urban Practice, City by City

A pop-up podcast recorded with a live audience that captures key learnings from the cities that learned them - detailed here with a full transcript.

Podcast: Inspiring, Enabling, and Teaching Teams to Become Public Entrepreneurs

A pop-up podcast recorded with a live audience that captures key learnings from the cities that learned them - detailed here with a full transcript.

Podcast: A People-Centric Approach to Producing Impact for Low-Income Residents

A pop-up podcast recorded with a live audience that captures key learnings from the cities that learned them - detailed here with a full transcript.

The Iron Cage and the Ivory Tower

It's time for government and universities to effectively partner.

When Art and Infrastructure Finance Collide

I asked a poet to write a poem about city government. The result took my breath away.

New Ways of Thinking in Nashville

A special (but simple) bus pass helps homeless population get to shelter in extreme weather.

Building a Platform Instead of a Wall

Albuquerque is harnessing the strength of immigrant entrepreneurs to improve its local economy.

Reading Beyond the Headline: Why Seattle’s Ideas Are Worth Stealing

Mayor Murray ups the ante on inclusive citizen engagement -- and helps pave the way for the rest of us.

Getting the Results You Want by Investing in Frontline Workers

Denver's Peak Academy demonstrates how investing in people pays off.

Broadband Equity Defines the Future of Communities

High-speed connectivity is no longer negotiable.

A Conversation With Mayors on Making Innovation Stick

Mayors from the City Accelerator's first cohort reflect on the changes underway in their cities.

Is Keeping Innovation Going the Real Challenge?

The City Accelerator's Cohort I cities are meeting this week to discuss their progress, challenges and how they can sustain their momentum.

A Primer on Financing Infrastructure: Obtaining the Tools to Get the Job Done

Most city leaders are grappling with an important question: How do we pay for critical infrastructure improvements?

Infrastructure: A Problem That Must Be Solved

Lessons on taking the long view from former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Buck Starts Here

The capital project development process needs early consideration of revenue and finance.

Surviving the Transition: How to Sustain an Initiative beyond a Mayor’s Exit

What to do when an initiative's funding ends and the original champion moves on.

Why Time Doesn’t Always Heal

A critical issue 25 years ago, our nation’s infrastructure remains in the same deteriorating state today.

The Road Ahead Is in Need of Repair

The future of our nation's infrastructure requires an innovation intervention.

Introducing the City Accelerator's Third Cohort

Four municipalities will focus on innovative ways to finance infrastructure.

Mapping the Story of Government Transparency

The City Accelerator's Cohort III is using the power of data visualization and mapping to help cities tell their stories and create understanding around their challenges.

6 Questions About Financing Infrastructure, Answered

Jennifer Mayer, leader of the City Accelerator’s cohort on financing municipal infrastructure, talks about her favorite projects, the Flint water crisis and more.

Let's Build Something Together: An Aspirational Infrastructure Tour of 5 Cities

Financing public improvements isn't easy -- but nothing is more important for cities to prosper.

Cities Build Up Innovation to Tackle Breakdown in Urban Infrastructure

In the City Accelerator's new Cohort III, cities will disrupt old ways of planning, prioritizing and budgeting for infrastructure projects.

In New Orleans, a Health Plan for the Poor Comes Together

Hurricane Katrina destroyed “Big Charity,” but the Big Easy has something better.

Change in Local Government: Moving Beyond Good Intentions

Programs to help the poor mean nothing if they don't work.

Rewriting the Rules of Public Engagement

Public meetings can be like purgatory. Cities are showing us there’s a better way.

A Philanthropic Nudge for Civic Innovation

Cities are doing it for themselves but not by themselves.

What Can Product Managers Do for Your City?

Chances are you already have people in your department playing this role, if only informally.

Human-Centered Design for Government

This approach inspires innovation and helps build tools that people actually enjoy using.

Beyond Shovelware: Finding the Right Tools for Engagement

City governments face increased demand to “do engagement,” without the corresponding investment in capacity.

Crisis Meets Opportunity in Baltimore

Looking to curb violence, city leaders are charting a path for incarcerated people to successfully re-enter society.

Improving Public Engagement: 5 Cities Get to Work

The communities of Cohort II of the City Accelerator convene in Baltimore to share updates of their respective initiatives.

Cities Marked by Devastation Rise Again

New Orleans and Detroit have little in common -- except their ability to persevere.

Economic Equality: A Nobel-Worthy Idea But a Long Way to Go

Angus Deaton's Nobel prize-winning work is inspiring, but will it solve poverty?

Being Local in an Interdependent World

Regional planning shows communities can be better, together.

Haunted by the Eternal Digital Record

The court of public opinion is ever-more swift and damning.

Taking the Long View

Civic innovation and investment will undoubtedly bring challenges and criticisms, but leaders are wise to stay the course.

And Divided We Fall

To prosper, cities must address their neighborhoods of neglect -- where poverty, unemployment and failing education is the status quo.

Seattle Has Always Had Pizzazz: What Gives?

Seattle has a history of being a magnet for both entrepreneurial success and creative thinkers. What can we learn from it?

3 Things Cities Should Do to Be Competitive

Urban areas must strategize to vie for future economic growth.

Albuquerque’s Driver for Economic Growth: Untapped Citizen Potential

New Mexico’s biggest city is supporting immigrant and indigenous populations in their business endeavors.

10 Years After Katrina, New Orleans’ Spirit Inspires

The disaster permanently altered lives, but the city continues to find innovative ways to rebuild.

A Year in the Life of the City Accelerator

It's time for a recap and review of this philanthropic, collaborative startup that has put down roots in eight cities so far.

The Electrifying Rhetoric of Election Season -- Or, the Trump Effect

Politics is a messy business, but fierce competition can fuel innovation.

Mayors Come and Go, But Good Ideas Should Stick

Upcoming elections will test the sustainability of mayors’ innovation initiatives.

The City of No-Frills Innovation

Ten years after Katrina, New Orleans is solving municipal challenges and improving lives.

Finding Answers to Housing Affordability Over Coffee

We have energetic citizens who want to help solve problems -- we just have to listen.

311: A New Use for a Not-So-New Tool

Sometimes engaging citizens is as simple as solving their problems.

If Civic Engagement Is Boring, You're Probably Doing It Wrong

History can provide some lessons in making it actually engaging.

4 Important Lessons From 40 Years of Civic Engagement

It doesn't have to be a hellish public process.

Can Cities Learn a Civic Engagement Lesson From the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’?

Passionate public participation -- combined with technology -- can be powerful

Bringing Back ‘Baltimore is Best!'

No stranger to hard times, Baltimore looks to new ideas to rise from the ashes.

Seattle's Next Experiment in Urban Planning: Inclusive Engagement

Seattle is tapping technology to reach previously unheard from -- and often culturally diverse -- citizens.

From Popsicles to Pop Music: Albuquerque Bets on Small-Scale Entrepreneurs

Supporting diverse businesses is the cornerstone of the city’s plan to spark economic mobility.

A Laboratory for Social Change

After being devastated by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is creating a more effective, equitable health system and reinvigorating all segments of its community.

Building on a Proud History of City Planning and Civic Engagement

Atlanta faces the dynamics of development head on as one of the cities chosen in City Accelerator’s Cohort 2.

From Civic Engagement to Meaningful Engagement

City Accelerator’s Cohort 2 cities embark on their journeys to improve their citizens' quality of life.

The Role of Whimsy and the Rise of the Metro Data Geek in Nashville's Innovation Practices

Nashville's co-chief innovation officer on the city's key takeaways from the City Accelerator.

A Spotlight on Nashville's Serendipity Practice

City leaders spark innovation in creative ways in this country music community.

Understanding the Timing and Rhythm of Innovation

As a city with a big history, Louisville is building on its achievements to diminish the debilitating remnants of poverty in its community.

Want to Help People in Poverty? Meet Them Where They Are

To be successful in reaching the poor, common-sense communication often prevails.

Why Trauma-Informed Housing Is Key to Solving Homelessness

“Housing First” initiatives can fall short if other resources aren't in place for individuals suffering from complex problems.

The Fast and Fleeting Nature of the Digital Economy

When your city invests in technology, make the most of it -- and quickly. Today's new idea is tomorrow's old hat.

From the Big (and Small) Screen to Real Life

New Orleans, Los Angeles and Albuquerque are writing their own stories to improve citizens' lives.

Historic Cities Rally to Become Centers of Innovation

Watch and review cities’ plans to inspire citizen participation.

How Minneapolis and Seattle Hope to Be Places of Opportunity for All

Watch and review both cities' plans to increase citizen involvement and decrease income inequality through the City Accelerator.

Reinvigorating Local Democracy

The City Accelerator is helping cities engage residents for better results.

Civic Engagement Expected to Shine in Round 2 of City Accelerator

The initiative's leader shares his aspirations as the next round kicks off this week.

Innovation in 140 Characters or Less

The Governing Summit in Louisville, Ky., provided unique ways for participants to share ideas.

Evaluating Policy Takes Too Long: Here's What You Can Do About It

Governments can use this approach from the world of design to help them effectively and quickly evaluate new policies.

Making City Hall Leaner

How can government build tools that people like?

Removing Blight, One Block at a Time

A nonprofit founded by mayors is helping seven cities finance and organize community service projects to revitalize low-income urban neighborhoods.

The Challenge of Making Sure Innovation 'Sticks'

The original champions of change might move on, but their ideas don't have to leave with them.

Urban Innovation for All, by All: A Mayor’s Perspective

Innovation is our opportunity to bring our heads, hearts and hands to bear on the challenges and opportunities of our time.

An Interactive Gathering for City Leaders

The convening focuses on solving urban problems through synergy and innovation.

What the VW Beetle Can Teach Us About Housing

Is it time to “think small” to be more innovative and sustainable in our urban developments?

Innovation Guide Promotes New Culture of Civic Exploration

The guide's action-oriented framework supports a spirit of adventure and change in urban communities.

Small City, Big Innovations, Huge Progress

The community in Fitchburg, Mass., came together to solve youth crime and budget challenges.

Breaking Through Barriers to Innovation in Local Government

Through the City Accelerator, Louisville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., and Philadelphia are adapting how they do business in order to produce materially different results.

New Implementation Guide for Local Government Innovation

A new City Accelerator guide addresses some of the key barriers to innovation in local government and provides a path forward for cities to follow.

VIDEO: Democracy and Stitching Together a New Public

Innovation is needed to make democracy work.

True Resilience Means Cities Must Plan for Poverty-Stricken Citizens

Weather-related events are often catastrophic for urban poor.

One Maine City's Stand against Cutting Funding at Homeless Shelters

Portland, Maine, is ignoring state instructions that could discourage people from seeking shelter beds.

Low-Income Citizens Can Benefit When Cities and Private Sector Partner

"Bank On" programs and other innovative initiatives reduce the victimization of poor individuals.

Doubling Down on the Innovation-Team Model

Another 14 cities are about to build their own "i-teams." No longer an experimental approach, it's a proven route to cross-cutting accomplishments.

Hunger, Homelessness Continue to Rise in U.S. Cities

An annual report shows Washington, D.C., led the nation this year in increases in emergency food assistance requests and homelessness. See how your city compares.

Want to Innovate? Determine Your City's Greatest Need and Get to Work

Governments must ask themselves critical questions before change can happen.

Where's Your Pothole?

Additional innovation is needed for infrastructure issues that aggravate the public.

A Two-Generation Approach to Poverty

A new report advocates more programs that address the needs of parents and children simultaneously.

Changes to Obamacare Could Bring Opportunity for Innovation

Low-income individuals can benefit from incremental improvements to the health care law.

California and Alabama the Worst in Child Homelessness

The sheer number of kids in California who have nowhere to call home and the failure of the state's leaders to address the growing crisis place it 48th among the 50 states for dealing with children's homelessness -- ranking it just above Mississippi and Alabama.

No Simple Solutions to Immigration Reform

This controversial issue shouldn't be about politics -- it's about people.

Turning Governments into Innovation Machines

The key is "intrapreneurship" — establishing a public-sector culture that rewards disruption from within.

Nashville and Louisville Use Innovation and Imagination in City Infrastructure

The City Accelerator communities are creating an environment of ingenuity.

The Progress and Promise of Pittsburgh's Turnaround

After years of decline, the city is making gains, and Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration represents a new brand of politics that’s moving into big cities across America.

The Website That Could End Homelessness in Los Angeles

L.A. County is using a computerized system to link homeless people with the social services that best fit their needs.

Innovation Goes Beyond Buzzwords

Trends in management and change might come and go, but innovation remains a common thread.

Technology Takes on Hunger

Interactive Web tools and virtual platforms help city officials break down barriers to food access.

Why Steve Jobs Might Have Failed at Government Innovation

Failure followed by success can make a legend in business, but second chances are hard to come by in the public sector.

Video: The Impact of Collaboration in Transforming Communities

City Accelerator convener Nigel Jacob speaks at Lipscomb University about the role of cross-sector collaboration in urban innovation.

Children Shine Light on Complexity of Homelessness

It may be easy to blame individuals for their plight -- until children are involved.

4 Key Challenges Facing Local Government Innovators

The selection process for the City Accelerator surfaced the tensions that make it difficult to make innovation a regular practice.

Homeless Veterans' Sacrifices Merit Special Attention

Mental trauma and emotional wounds mean many vets end up in the streets. They deserve better.

How the Shrinking Ozone Hole Is Like the War on Poverty

When we face reality, we take the first step to fixing a problem.

Introducing the City Accelerator's First Cohort

Louisville, Nashville and Philadelphia move forward with anti-poverty plans.

Similarities among the City Accelerator's Top 3 Plans

Each cities' innovative plan to help low-income residents seems so different at first glance.

Big Data Alone Isn't Enough to Spark City Innovation

MIT's Ceasar McDowell contends big data alone does not provide a full picture of the life of a community, arguing that high tech must be matched with high touch.

Minimum-Wage Maximizing City Challenges

Federal government inaction is thrusting a tough issue on local jurisdictions.

Poverty Is a Multi-Pronged Problem

Solutions to helping the poor aren't simple, but we must press on.

Don’t Leave Poor Populations out of Internet Initiatives

Technology has the power to unite but also the potential to divide.

When Innovation Isn't Glamorous

We need to make the case for the glitzless but still innovative initiatives.

5 Themes in City Poverty Plans

City Accelerator finalists have commonalities in the problems they face and their proposed solutions.

How L.A. Aims to Use Technology to Better Serve the Public

Transforming public service delivery with new tools and strategies is an imperative.

San Jose and Nashville Ask Citizens for Poverty Solutions

San Jose and Nashville are planning to tap the talents of citizens for innovative solutions to their problems with poverty.

Video: Design for the Margins

MIT's Caesar McDowell argues for the wider societal benefits of taking care of those living at the margins.

A Tale of Denver and Philadelphia's Anti-Poverty Plans

Philadelphia and Denver are plotting different ways for their low-income residents to get out of poverty.

Innovation Profiles: Louisville and Albuquerque

Two former transportation hubs are bringing back economic vitality with a focus on their most vulnerable populations.

Innovation Needed to Finally Win War on Poverty

Fifty years after President Johnson declared war on poverty, we're facing the same battles.

Going Public: How the City Accelerator Works

3-year, $3 million collaboration to kickstart urban innovation crowdsources reviews of city pitches in selecting which ones will enter the City Accelerator

Recreation as Innovation: San Antonio Rethinks a Public Good

Cities should strive to provide recreation for vulnerable populations.

The Art of Change

One way innovative cities helped curb homelessness? Parking meters.

Take the Shot, Get the Goal and Win the Game

Fear of failure can inhibit cities from innovating. It shouldn't.

Hard-Earned Lessons, Good Grounding for the City Accelerator

The former mayor of the “Most Transformed City” in America is going to help chronicle civic innovation through the City Accelerator.

When You're Out of Money, It's Time to Start Thinking

Innovative funding solutions can be born from bad times.

Chattanooga, Tenn., Is Proof Municipal Broadband Works

The FCC wants to prevent states from banning locally and publicly owned broadband. That plan is spot on -- and Chattanooga, Tenn., proves it.

Accelerating Innovation in US Cities

The City Accelerator will give nine cities the opportunity to work in three-city cohorts to focus on areas where there is a clear model of innovation ready for implementation and adaptation.