The Charter

The Governing Institute Charter

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves in their separate and individual capacities.” - Abraham Lincoln

Our Mission

The Governing Institute advances better government by improving performance and outcomes through research, decision support, and executive education to help public sector leaders govern more effectively.

Put simply, governments exist to enable a community of people to achieve certain outcomes – including but not limited to safety and security, better streets, cleaner water and air – that they believe they cannot achieve as well by acting individually. We see “better government,” as government that does a better job of efficiently and effectively delivering the outcomes citizens desire. We see “governing effectively” as making policy and program choices that lead to citizen trust and confidence in their government’s ability to produce the outcomes they need and desire.

Our Activities

A relentless focus on outcomes is the True North guiding the Institute’s portfolio of activities.

Government Performance. The Institute will focus on publicly available outcome data to identify good, sustainable practices in how states and localities produce results the public wants.

Research. Working in collaboration with partners in the academic, foundation, business and labor communities, the Institute will sponsor and conduct research that identifies and allows replication of programs and policies that improve outcomes.

Community. The work of the Institute is supported by a multi-layered community of individuals in government and the private sector interested in improving government outcomes. The Governing Panel will consist of practitioners and leaders from all levels of government and the private sector, who will provide regular feedback on issues and topics. A group of Senior Fellows will support program delivery and a smaller cabinet of advisors will be involved in planning for the Institute.

Executive Education. By convening public and private sector leaders through national summits, expanded regional events, and leadership academies, the Institute will provide information and analysis that allows better decisions leading to improved outcomes. A significant theme cross-cutting these events is linking leaders from business, labor and government to share ideas, build mutual understanding and discover ways to work together to improve government outcomes.

Recognition. We agree with Teddy Roosevelt that, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…” For many years GOVERNING has recognized through its “Public Officials of the Year” event, public sector leaders who have achieved outstanding results. Through the Institute we will strengthen this program, increase our involvement with past and future winners throughout the year, and create a community by and for public leaders to tap their energy and expertise in support of improving government outcomes.

Advancement. The Institute is also an authoritative source about the campaign for common sense government that works in the public interest. In the media (including our own), at conferences and in consultations with the private and not for profit sectors, the Institute works to make the workings of government and decision making of public officials transparent, understandable and approachable.

Our Core Beliefs

The Governing Institute is non-partisan and non-ideological. Our work is shaped and strengthened by certain principles. We believe:

  1. Government work is honorable and the institutions of government and those who work in them should be respected.

  2. Narrowing the gap between the people in charge in our country and the great mass of ordinary people is of paramount importance.

  3. Government exists to produce positive outcomes in the community and those outcomes are “co-produced” by government and citizens working together.

  4. Every citizen has political responsibilities since improvements in government performance only occur as the result of a series of political acts.

Our Timing

The Institute was created on the eve of Governing’s 25th anniversary but that alone does not explain its timing. Since its first issue, the magazine has chronicled the hard work of making governments better and solving problems that are common to all states and localities. But today’s problems are different by degree and type. Our governments seem no longer capable of fulfilling their basic purpose, which is to enable us to deal with big problems – problems that affect all in common. Many of our governments have massive amounts of debt and only the vaguest idea of how to meet their future financial obligations. We have massive infrastructure needs, and again, little idea of where the money will come from to meet them. And, in addition to these financial deficits, there is a large deficit of citizen trust and confidence in government.

Recognizing that it is time to change the conversation and lean into the future, we have created the Governing Institute so that we might better work alongside those in the public and private sector who are committed to helping America overcome this crisis. Since 1987, GOVERNING has provided state and local leaders with the information, insight and intelligence needed to govern effectively. As a catalyst for innovation, GOVERNING has been dedicated to covering politics, policies and programs essential to this audience. The Institute will build on that legacy and extend our commitment to improving government by serving those who serve.