(Photo by David Kidd; Illustration by Kelly Martinelli)
Cover Story

The Causes, Costs and Consequences of Bad Government Data

BY Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene

States and localities are embracing the promise of big data. But just how good is the information they’re collecting in the first place?


True Believer: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Walker has proved to be an effective leader in one of the most polarized states. But how will the conservative governor’s record in Wisconsin translate to a presidential bid? BY Alan Greenblatt

Obama Tries to End the Cycle of Broken Poverty Promises

Pouring federal aid into poor communities hasn’t accomplished much in the past. But the Obama administration insists its Promise Zones program will be different. BY J.B. Wogan

10 Years and Still Waiting for Space Travel's Takeoff

Truth or Consequences, N.M., is hoping space tourism will transform the sleepy desert town. BY David Kidd


Better, Faster, Cheaper

How Our Legislatures Are Designed for Inefficiency

Nebraska had a good idea: Do away with the costly duplication of bicameralism. BY Charles Chieppo
Public Safety & Justice

Police Aren't the Only Public Workers Wearing Body Cameras

Some cities have started equipping them not just to cops but also other government employees who often encounter confrontation. BY Mike Maciag

What Happens When Schools Stop Providing Buses?

Indiana is the latest state to find out what happens when districts aren’t required to offer students free transportation to and from school. BY Chris Kardish
Health & Human Services

Can You Change Negative Perceptions About Government Aid?

Many people think the work of human services agencies creates dependency and exacerbates poverty. But there’s a new effort to recast them in a more favorable light. BY J.B. Wogan



Why Political Machines Were Good for Government

They may have had their negatives, but unlike Congress today -- and to some degree, the states -- they got the job done. BY Alan Ehrenhalt
Potomac Chronicle

Public Universities Have Forgotten Their Mission

As public education becomes less public, what new economic model will emerge? BY Peter Harkness

The Republican Who Helped Elect Obama and Now Wants Montgomery, Alabama, to Elect Him

Former Democratic Congressman Artur Davis is hoping to beat the odds in his hometown. BY Alan Greenblatt
Health & Human Services

GOP States Push Medicaid Expansion's Boundaries

States were encouraged to experiment with ways to expand health care, but how lenient will the feds be? BY Chris Kardish
Infrastructure & Environment

A New P3 Model for Building Green Infrastructure

One Maryland county is testing a unique public-private partnership that would not only save money but also help the environment and local economy. BY Daniel C. Vock
Economic Engines

Big Aspirations Aren’t Just for Big Cities Anymore

Much of what used to happen only in the biggest metropolises is spreading out. BY Aaron M. Renn
Urban Notebook

How Miami Fought Gentrification and Won (for Now)

Unlike other rapidly growing cities, Miami doesn’t regulate building heights. BY Scott Beyer



Millennials Remade Cities, But Will They Keep Living in Them?

Officials in several cities transformed by young adults try to predict their next move. BY Mike Maciag
Smart Management

The Next Big Thing in Data Analytics

As the amount of data that governments accumulate grows, so does the need to disaggregate it. BY Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
Better Government

Problems Only Government Can Solve

Foundations are important, but they have their limits. BY Mark Funkhouser
Tech Talk

Government Apps Are Popular, But Are They Useful?

What may seem like a great way to engage citizens may not be as effective as cities would like. BY Tod Newcombe
Public Money

Municipal Bankruptcy's New Rulemakers

The rules for a city’s return to solvency are no longer being crafted by lawmakers. BY Frank Shafroth
Public Safety & Justice

Taking a Break to Celebrate Cops

What began as a day in 1962 has morphed into a weeklong celebration. BY David Kidd