Place-Based Policies: Think “Where” First, Not Last

To kick off a new Initiative on Place-Based Public Management, the National Academy of Public Administration hosted a forum on Friday, May 20, 2011, to explore the potential that place-based policies and geospatial capabilities hold for improving public management. Speakers included:

  • Xavier Briggs, the primary author of the 2009 White House memo on Place-Based Policy and OMB Associate Director for General Government Services
  • Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Keith Barber, the lead for implementing DoD priorities for “whole of government” geospatial  capabilities, National Geospatial-Intelligence Administration
  • Michael Byrne, GIO, Federal Communications Commission, and lead for implementing the National Broadband Map
  • Jerry Johnston, GIO, Environmental Protection Agency, and geospatial lead for
  • Mark Reichardt, President and CIO, Open Geospatial Consortium, a leading standards organization enabling place-based strategies

You can find more information about this initiative here.

R. Scott Fosler, who moderated the forum, summarized the key points of the discussion. First, Fosler stated, we must demonstrate “purposeful leadership.” We must identify the public purpose of geospatial technology implementation — economic development, environmental sustainability, community health, and security — at the outset. What are the expected outcomes and impacts for citizens? Second, Fosler noted that with respect to Place-Based Policies and related technologies, the Obama Administration is taking a demand-based approach, not a supply-based approach. Again, what is the impact, and how do we keep costs down? Third, Fosler asked, what are the processes and instruments that can be used to further develop and carry out place-based policies? “All these technologies are tools of management to be used in real-time and in real places,” he said. Lastly, Fosler stressed the importance of ongoing collaboration across boundaries, professions, governments, and sectors.

As we think about the future of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, Jerry Johnston reiterated that we must focus on the public policy use cases first, not on the technology. Raphael Bostic emphasized that technology does not equal policy, and stressed the need for: 1) innovation and openness; 2) simplicity and ease of use; and 3) flexibility. He also listed several challenges that we must meet, including providing leadership on governance; creating community around placed-based policy making; lifting up applied uses; and developing “playbooks” from which communities can adopt solutions. Michael Byrne quipped, “think ‘where’ first, not last,” and then closed with an important point that federal data publication and consumption should be in a single vein.

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