Public Works


Public Works LLC is unique amongst consulting firms.

We were founded to provide high-level public policy advice and management consulting purely to public-sector and non-profit policy organizations. Our personnel all come out of careers in the public sector, including as gubernatorial chiefs of staff, state and county policy directors, and state and local government agency heads.

Public Works is entirely committed to helping governments function better, smarter, and more effectively. This begins with our name: We believe that the public realm indeed works for improving people’s lives – and our mission is to help it work even better.

Our roots lie in public policy, and that is still reflected in our entire orientation. Our CEO founded the firm in 1995 after serving as a gubernatorial chief-of-staff, to bring to other governments the policy-focused approach he brought to his job in state government. (He also founded, and the firm sponsors, the Greater Good Gathering, an annual conference on making the world better, held at Columbia University.) At Public Works, we believe that the highest standards of policy analysis as a rigorous discipline can and should go hand-in-hand with a commitment to our ideals of improving people’s lives through public service. It is why our firm’s motto is “Making good ideas work for the better.”

We have served as an “outside policy office” for a half-dozen Governor’s Offices, as well as numerous state agencies, and have provided creative yet pragmatic policy advice on specific problems ranging from resolving an impasse in California over brownfields legislation with an approach called “novel” and “innovative” by the national press, to devising a program for county government in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio, to provide college scholarships to needy county residents. 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.

There is no better example of our commitment to meeting the needs of not just our clients, but also the public than our work helping Louisiana craft extensive federal and state legislative responses within two weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated the state.

A week after Katrina, Public Works was asked to provide the state government with help in assembling proposals for the Katrina relief legislation moving through Congress and for the emergency session of the Louisiana state legislature.

The Governor’s Office then asked us to help determine how to allocate a massive emergency $6.2 billion federal Community Development Block Grant for post-Katrina housing and neighborhood reconstruction. Public Works advised the state’s workforce agency, the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA), and various state and local officials on how to spend this funding most efficiently and effectively for rebuilding. Public Works also pinpointed problems with the existing housing proposal and suggested improvements to what became the Road Home program to help homeowners to rebuild.

One major outcome of our work and recommendations was an 11.5-acre “senior village” – Village de Jardin – opened by the Louisiana Housing and Finance Administration. The village housed elderly New Orleans residents who remained displaced by Hurricane Katrina in new homes with ready access to medical and social services. Public Works provided the research, design, planning, and assistance with applications to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other funders that have made this senior village a reality. The conception, design, and leadership of the actual construction were all the result of our firm’s Dr. Linda Rhodes (pictured, above, at the groundbreaking).

We also donated our time to help clean up neighborhoods and gut mold-infested housing in New Orleans, and to work with various non-profits throughout the state on a variety of initiatives to help struggling families in the wake of the hurricanes. donated our fees from our consulting with the LRA to purchase a much-needed EKG machine for a public clinic in the poorest neighborhood in the city.

As we said in the Kennedy School Magazine article to the right, “We felt we had an opportunity to make a difference in a huge number of people’s lives, but that also meant we had a huge duty.”
This founding – and fundamental – a commitment to advancing the greater good through the public sector is what we ultimately bring to all our work.
Kennedy School Involved with Katrina
Cleaning Up
New Housing