Peter Harkness  |  Founder, Publisher Emeritus

Peter Harkness, founder and publisher emeritus of GOVERNING, now serves as a co-writer of the Potomac Chronicle column. He launched GOVERNING in 1987 after serving as editor and deputy publisher of the Congressional Quarterly news service. Peter currently also is a senior policy adviser to the Pew Center on the States.

Peter Harkness
July 10, 2019

America's Demographic Destiny Can't Be Ignored

The birth rate is at an all-time low. That’s going to have a major impact on public services.
May 1, 2019

Signs of Hope for the Media Industry

Its problems didn't start with Trump, but he ironically may be helping to turn some of them around.
March 20, 2019

Why I'm Optimistic About America's Economic Outlook

Another recession is in the forecast. This time, states seem ready to weather it.
November 26, 2018

Hope for Fixing the Heart of America's Voting Problems

The system is broken. But the midterms laid the foundation for reforming it.
November 19, 2018

A Crisis in Motion: America's Transportation Dilemma

Federal policy, and other factors, are disrupting efforts to improve transit and forcing urban planners to make tough choices.
September 7, 2018

On Water Problems, Governments Actually Work Together

When it comes to dirty lakes and rivers, governments have learned how to cooperate.
July 12, 2018

Federalism Is Broken. Can It Be Fixed?

Our federal system is tied up in knots. We have to try to untie them.
May 21, 2018

It’s Time for Governments to Try Federalism Again

Our toughest problems can’t be solved unless we learn to work together.
March 21, 2018

Hope for Car-Haters

Cities are beginning to rethink their relationship with automobiles.
January 10, 2018

These 2 Men Made Careers Out of Fighting for Federalism

One of them, Paul Posner, who recently died, spent decades advocating for a stronger relationship between federal, state and local governments.
November 16, 2017

First He Reinvented Government. Now He Wants to Reinvent Schools.

In his new book, David Osborne argues the best way to fix the education system is to increase charter schools and create a survival-of-the-fittest system.
September 1, 2017

The Fractured State of Federalism

It's hard to tell who's in charge of what in American government these days.
July 13, 2017

Let's Give the Stimulus Its Due

It saved the economy, but that isn't always acknowledged.
May 9, 2017

Trump-Watching From City Hall

His policy choices will challenge places from Manhattan to Mobile, Ala.
March 1, 2017

Outposts of Rationality in Our Great Partisan Divide

U.S. politics isn't all poisonous. You just have to leave Washington to realize that.
January 9, 2017

Conjectures From the Swamp

D.C. may be an object of Republican disdain, but it’s now at the center of governmental change.
November 28, 2016

The Upside of Police Chiefs' Recent Departures

They’re stepping down in cities across the country, opening up opportunities for major change.
September 14, 2016

Doubts About Pension Debt

We can’t be sure how much states and localities owe.
July 26, 2016

Millennials and Homeownership

The uncertainty of where they'll live is creating new challenges.
May 3, 2016

Washington, D.C.’s Monumental Decay

In D.C., above and below ground, historic and vital infrastructure is in bad shape. There’s plenty of blame to spread around for that.
March 1, 2016

Confronting Climate Change’s Biggest Deniers

Some of the skeptics are also the people with the most power to make a difference. Ignoring or denying the issue isn’t an option.
January 1, 2016

Detroit and New Orleans Have More in Common Than Most Think

Most important, their prospects for survival can teach us about the resiliency of urban areas everywhere.
November 1, 2015

Plan B for Ending the Gun Epidemic

Federal firearm laws are unlikely to change, so it’s up to states and localities to lead a societal effort.
September 9, 2015

State and Local Governments' Ticking Debt Bomb

The U.S. may not be the next Greece, but it must face up to some hard decisions.
July 1, 2015

Public Universities Have Forgotten Their Mission

As public education becomes less public, what new economic model will emerge?
May 1, 2015

Washington’s Education Stalemate

Why improving our schools looks hopeless on Capitol Hill.
March 1, 2015

Utah’s Secret Weapon for Long-Range Planning

Most governments don’t plan for population growth well. But Utah’s grassroots, nonideological, research-based approach has become a model for other states and localities.
March 1, 2015

The ‘CEO-Mayors’ Who Care About Cities Instead of Profits

Dan Gilbert of Detroit is just one example of what a CEO determined to help their communities can accomplish.
January 1, 2015

Washington’s Media Myopia

With practically no legislation moving through Congress, the Washington press corps is beginning to focus on action in states and localities.
November 1, 2014

Crazy Quilt Federalism

Innovation is happening in a lot of places, just in different ways.
September 1, 2014

Are Governments Neglecting Planes and Trains?

Even though airports and public transportation systems are in need of upgrades, all anyone ever talks about is roads and bridges.
July 1, 2014

The Great Water Paradox

With far too little water in some places and far too much in others, U.S. governments can no longer ignore climate change.
May 1, 2014

How Big Cities Push Big New Ideas

As urban populations have grown, cities have become centers of innovation.
March 1, 2014

Poverty Won't Be Solved by Congress

Since Congress has trouble tying its shoes, states and localities must take the lead reversing the dangerous trends of rising inequality and stagnant mobility.
January 1, 2014

America Risks Wasting Fracking’s Potential

Hydraulic fracking holds so much promise for generating inexpensive, relatively clean energy. But first, we need to figure out how to regulate it.
September 1, 2013

What (Not) to Expect from Congress This Session

Congress is back, but don’t expect the players in this sad comedy to know or care much about how any pieces of legislation they pass will affect our states, regions or metros.
February 28, 2013

Federalism from the Bottom Up

More than ever, the feds need states and local regions to take the lead in crafting promising new programs.
December 28, 2012

Who Pays for Superstorm Sandy?

States don’t just want money to rebuild -- they want money to make far-reaching changes to infrastructure too.
October 31, 2012

It's Time for States, Localities to Think Boldly

Elections and governance have become so intertwined that it’s hard to know when campaigns begin or end. We do know we need big ideas.
August 31, 2012

Washington, D.C.’s Other 1-Percent Problem

The nation’s capital is more about what you own these days than what you do.
June 29, 2012

The Politics of Rising Tuition Costs

Obama blames the states, but the problem is more complicated.
May 31, 2012

Public Universities Reach a Tipping Point

Severe funding cuts and the record-high numbers of people going to college are forcing state university systems to make tough decisions about financial aid, curriculums, research and more.
April 30, 2012

The Affordable Care Act: A Case Study for Cooperative Federalism?

If the health reform law is upheld, the flexibility it will give states on health insurance exchanges could be a model for healthy federal-state relations.
February 29, 2012

Despite Corruption Concerns, D.C. Improves Services

Amid several ethics scandals, the city government has dramatically improved its delivery of services -- even as demand has increased.
January 1, 2012

What Brand of Federalism Is Next?

Obama’s mixed approach of coercion and collaboration seems to be working, but that may not last.
October 31, 2011

Column: Housing Policy Deserves a Demotion

GOVERNING Publisher Emeritus Peter Harkness says it may be time for government to get out of the business of promoting homeownership.
August 31, 2011

Severe Budget Cuts Ahead

With stimulus funding gone, a misinformed citizenry is unprepared for the funding cuts on the horizon.
June 30, 2011

Cities Must Find the Economy's Fix

With Washington paralyzed by its debt and states facing deficits, the pressure is on local governments to raise more revenue or make significant structural changes to reduce costs.
April 29, 2011

The Truth about Bankruptcy

Exaggerating problems is more about politics than budget balancing.
February 28, 2011

Public Servants as Public Enemy #1

At all levels, denigration of public service is a legacy of the recession.
January 1, 2011

The Nation's Outlook on Trains

Bullet trains may be sidetracked, but not commuter rail.
November 1, 2010

Finding a Leader With Answers

As problems cry out for solutions, we need more Richard Daleys.

State and Federal Immigration Policy Challenges Republicans and Democrats

The politics of immigration policy are tricky for both parties.

Restoring the Balance of Federalism

In the recession's wake, states and localities face new realities.

Education Reform is the New Game in Town

What's not to like about the Race to the Top? Plenty, it seems.

States, Localities Face a 'Lost Decade'

Economic recovery will be slow, subduing any ambitions state and local governments may harbor to play a role in shaping national policy.

Washington Plays Catch Up On Climate Change

States, localities and the private sector are already confronting climate change. Washington has just scratched the surface.

The Ticking Fiscal Clock

In this state and local fiscal mess, realism may be the only option.

Tying Federal Funding to Regional Cooperation

For the White House, the new mantra is 'metro regions.'

Devolution? What's That?

Right now, federalism means the feds are running the show.

When the Well Runs Dry

The stimulus won't last forever. That's worth remembering.

Tackling Taxophobia

We can't keep pretending tax increases are a fatal disease.

Obama and the States

President Bush promised governors a close relationship and didn't deliver. Can states trust the reassuring words of his successor?
March 31, 2007

Low-Flow Revenue Stream

When some labor unions in Rockford, Ill., came out in support of an increase in the local sales tax last month, it wasn't big news....
March 25, 2007

Test, but Verify

Almost two years ago, this space discussed George W. Bush's centerpiece education program in a column that started off this way: "There is a rebellion...