A Civic Research Initiative to Transform State and Local Government

Author: Ben Levine


State and local governments are not taking full advantage of data and technology innovation that could help address key priorities such as delivery of local public services, management and design of the built environment, and fulfillment of climate goals. Supporting innovation across these domains is difficult for state and local governments due to limited technical staff, procurement challenges, and poor incentives and mechanisms to develop and scale creative solutions. Civic research is a collaborative process for addressing public priorities and improving communities by connecting technical experts to policymakers and civic partners, creating a platform for evidence-based, research-informed action. This process relies on partnerships among universities, state and local agencies, and community organizations, and has proven successful in communities nationwide. This paper recommends seven actions the next administration can take to advance civic research nationwide.

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A Civic Research Initiative to Transform
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About the Author

Ben Levine serves as the Executive Director of MetroLab Network, an international network of local governments and universities focused on data-driven policy and technology transformation addressing public sector priorities. Ben serves as Principal Investigator on several philanthropic and National Science Foundation awards, aimed at cultivating an ecosystem of civic research and innovation in cities and communities. Prior to his current role, Ben served as a Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he was responsible for policy development pertaining to state and local government finance, with a particular focus on infrastructure policy. He worked closely with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy on the organization and launch of MetroLab Network. Prior to his role at Treasury, Ben worked at Morgan Stanley, where he provided investment banking services to state and local government clients. He is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and grew up in Pittsburgh.