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Stephen Goldsmith


Stephen Goldsmith is the Derek Bok Professor of the Practice of Urban Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School Bloomberg Center for Cities and director of the Data Smart City Solutions Program and the Innovations in American Government Program. The former deputy mayor for operations for New York City, he previously served two terms as mayor of Indianapolis.

Goldsmith served as the chief domestic policy advisor to the George W. Bush campaign in 2000, as chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and, from 1979 to 1990, as the district attorney for Marion County, Ind.

His most recent book is Growing Fairly: How to Build Opportunity and Equity in Workforce Development, co-authored with Kate Markin Coleman.  He also is the author or co-author of A New City O/S: The Power of Open, Collaborative, and Distributed Governance; The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance; The Power of Social Innovation; Governing by Network: the New Shape of the Public Sector; Putting Faith in Neighborhoods: Making Cities Work through Grassroots Citizenship; and The Twenty-First Century City: Resurrecting Urban America.

Goldsmith can be reached at

In distributing rental assistance funds to prevent evictions, Indianapolis found a creative alternative model, working across departments to get the money out to vulnerable families.
We’re too focused on job creation and too little on skilling. Mayors and county executives need to take on a new role in workforce development, coordinating regional efforts built around better use of data.
It’s too easy for a debate to degenerate to binary choices. In dealing with public safety issues, Dallas’ mayor embraced a range of solutions rather than simply picking a side.
Critics of the smart city movement raise some valid concerns that local officials should pay attention to, but it’s not a case for antiquated municipal systems and procedures.
The right kind of public-private partnerships could liberate billions of dollars for other infrastructure and to address critical urban needs. But it’s important to protect public values.
Informed by social media analysis and surveys, San Jose built a corps of trusted local messengers to boost vaccination rates in hard-to-reach communities.
Any new federal infrastructure program should provide states and localities with the flexibility to tap the private-sector innovation and expertise that can produce new revenues, meaningful savings and operational efficiencies.
Social sentiment analysis is helping local officials understand the views and concerns of their residents about COVID-19 vaccinations, giving them information they need to shape effective messaging strategies.
It’s an opportunity, particularly for localities, to make long-term investments not only in infrastructure but also in the way they perform their work for the post-pandemic future.
Officials predict city budgets will be cut anywhere from 15 to 40 percent in the next year. The best way to do more with less is to use data as a tool to find out what works and where there’s opportunity to save.