Public Works is unique among consulting firms.
We provide high-level public policy advice and management consulting purely to public-sector and non-profit policy organizations. We have served as an ongoing, “outside policy office” for numerous public-sector agencies—including numerous Governors, Attorneys General and Treasurer’s Offices, and state agencies. We have also worked on a project-by-project basis for state and local governments, as well as some of the nation’s leading think-tanks and non-profits, to address a wide range of policy challenges covering virtually every area of policymaking:
We understand how governments work, from the ground up to the highest levels, and we are committed to achieving actual results and producing outcomes, not just writing reports. This is because working with governments isn’t just another line of business to us: It is public service and our life’s work.
We have applied ideals of equity and shared prosperity for decades—from our very first engagement designing a workforce training program for low-income Latino youth, up through our recent design of an Equitable Poverty Prevention Plan for the City of Dubuque and our ongoing project reinventing regional service delivery for a large United Way agency. Through all these engagements, we have looked at issues relating to poverty and inequality through myriad lenses, gained an understanding of the diverse ways that various social and economic policies overlap and intersect, and constantly evolved new practices better and more equitably to serve communities.
For instance, our recently completed work with the City of Dubuque, Iowa, on the city’s Equitable Poverty Prevention Plan, centered around the determinants of poverty and strategies to help eradicate generational poverty. This project required extensive community involvement and input—over 400 individuals in Dubuque through over 30 community organizations, a “listening tour,” a public e-poll, and an all-day, 200-person Equity Poverty Prevention Planning Event with community leaders and persons experiencing poverty in Dubuque—all with the result of identifying actionable insights, strategies, and next steps.
The Public Works education practice is unique among education consultants.
As a result, we have helped multiple states construct their P-20 systems, uniting everything from early childhood through post-secondary training in the areas of education governance, coordination, policy, and substance.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and the Bridges to Opportunity for New Mexico Initiative, a coalition of public and private stakeholders funded by the Ford Foundation, hired Public Works to develop recommendations for building a competitive and highly skilled workforce. We proposed a governance structure to integrate education, workforce development, and economic development programs, and a series of improvements to make the system more responsive and accountable to workers, employers, and the taxpayer. We then oversaw the work of a Workforce Coordination and Oversight Committee that included the Cabinet secretaries from all the executive agencies involved—as well as representatives from business, labor, and the legislature—then helped to create the new Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) and helped to restructure the state workforce board system.
We have undertaken similar comprehensive redesigns of workforce systems and provided studies on workforce improvement in states and localities throughout the country, from New York to California and from Georgia to Oregon. And for the nation’s largest healthcare union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), we identified the technologies that will affect the healthcare workforce over the next five years, assessed and forecasted the impact on the workforce.
Public Works has been involved in every area of health and human services—from coverage expansion to poverty reduction, and from child welfare to programs for the aging. You can read here our article in the Atlantic on our work designing coverage programs at the state level and the ultimate future of health care reforms like Obamacare.
Most recently, we worked with the nation’s largest health care union to study the future of health care and its implications for the workforce. For the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), we identified technologies that will affect the healthcare workforce within the next five years, assess and forecast the impact on the workforce of these technologies, and specify the universal core competencies that will be required of workers as a result in order to maintain their jobs and prevent layoffs. The project included three half-day sessions with health care providers among major hospital, long-term care, and home health care systems in New York City in collaboration with community college and university deans.
Our Children’s Budget, Children’s Report Card, and Children’s Investment Strategy became a national model for human services. The City of Philadelphia and the non-profit Philadelphia Safe & Sound came to Public Works to develop these important tools. The budget track aggregate spending on children across the board, while the report card track and “grad” the effectiveness of its child welfare programs one of the most comprehensive measures of health and safety indicators anywhere in the country. It rated children’s welfare on 27 major indicators ranging from healthy births and childcare levels to incidents of abuse, school readiness, dropout rates, and college exam scores, objectively measuring progress toward the city’s five desired results. The program also established a method for relating budget priorities to the outcomes of child welfare programs, creating a nationwide model to ensure the well-being of children through effective budget priorities.
Together, these spending and outcomes measures formed the foundation for a Children’s Investment Strategy that put public money where the results are. This approach can be applied to every area of government spending—getting better outcomes even in an era of declining government income.
The Public Works team brings to the public sector a rare combination of hard-edged analytic skills and experience with actually helping governments to encourage growth, create jobs, and prepare workers for the workforce, with a value-driven, progressive approach to economic policy. We believe that:
In the quarter-century that our firm has been promoting such policies, we have slowly seen the public opinion and government policy bend in this direction.
West Virginia’s then-Governor Joe Manchin retained Public Works to design and help to implement an ambitious agenda that he laid out in his “West Virginia: Open for Business” plan; he spoke passionately about this plan during his first State of the State address:
“And for guidance, I am looking towards this beat-up old blue binder. It is my job creation plan and as many of you know, it’s called: West Virginia: Open for Business. The ideas that I put forth in this plan during the past year and a half played a major role in my being elected and I owe it to the people who voted for me to honor them. That is why I am using this plan as a blueprint for our economic development and job creation efforts. I will do everything in my power during the next four years to live up to my ‘Open for Business’ commitments of saving the good jobs with healthcare benefits we already have and looking for ways to create many, many more.”
Incentives have become ideological footballs—but they can be productive or counter-productive. What matters is what you’re trying to incentivize. We believe governments should incentivize entrepreneurship, start-ups, and indigenous businesses, and actual job-creation. We develop policies and programs within an overall strategy and conception of the specific kind of economy, and unique advantages and opportunities, of each individual state or community:
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