A series of in-depth case studies anchors the work of the Program on Local and Intergovernmental Studies. POLIS uses the collective lessons of case study research to describe and explain the way people participate in effective intergovernmental initiatives. These lessons can help governments assemble a more systematic understanding of effective intergovernmental practice.
Northern Dutchess Alliance Case Study
Sponsored by the New York State Department of State as a Shared Municipal Services Technical Assistance Project, this case study examined the origins and development of the Northern Dutchess Alliance (NDA), a multi-sector coalition of government, community organizations, citizens, and business that seeks to foster community dialogue and planning around issues of transportation, tourism, regional economics, open space preservation, land use, housing, and property taxes. The consensus view of study participants was that the NDA has emerged as a valuable resource for Dutchess County stakeholders. However, realizing the right kind of actions and roles has been a challenge, and the long-term efficacy of the coalition remains in question. The case study also examines the challenges of sustaining a community conversation over time, despite its perceived benefits. The insights offered herein can be broadly instructive to other communities pursuing a regional dialogue.
Waterford Police Department Dissolution
Officials in Waterford, New York attempted to dissolve the town’s local police force and enter into a cooperative agreement with the County Sheriff for police services. POLIS studied the environment, circumstances, and players involved in this failed effort to alter the provision of public safety services in the town. This case study was sponsored by the New York State Department of State, and completed in conjunction with the Government Law Center of Albany Law School as part of the Shared Municipal Services Technical Assistance Project.
This study examines two separate efforts to formalize cooperative service agreements between the town, village, and school district of Rhinebeck, New York. These efforts, which took place in 1991 and 2006, had divergent outcomes. POLIS’s case study delves into the circumstances surrounding each initiative to better understand the reasons that one failed and the other is making progress. This work was sponsored by the New York State Department of State.
Local Governance Dialogue Project
The Local Governance Dialogue Project is an intergovernmental partnership project concerned with the sustainability of municipalities in New York State. The Dialogue study addresses the marked decline in the fiscal conditions and economic outlook of communities across the state. It was POLIS’s objective that the project’s open and inclusive dialogue elicit key stakeholder perspectives on the urgency of municipal conditions, and the causes of those conditions, so that critical issues could be framed by those on the ground, namely local officials. The project was commissioned by the Office of the New York State Comptroller, Division of Local Government Services and Economic Development.
The city of Rochester, New York, increased citizen confidence and participation in local government through a series of bottom-up, grassroots community planning initiatives. The comprehensive community planning effort engaged citizens, businesses, and community organizations in the governance of their city. This POLIS case study contains lessons about how government can engage citizens to help plan and implement urban revitalization efforts.
West Nile Virus Outbreak
The first outbreak of West Nile Virus in North America—in New York City, in August 1999—brought together an intergovernmental group focused on responding to all the aspects of the crisis. This group of state, local, and federal professionals worked collaboratively to identify the disease, develop methods to contain its spread, coordinate resource allocation, and develop public information strategies. POLIS’s examination of the West Nile Virus outbreak and response reveals lessons about intergovernmental effectiveness under crisis situations. A version of the study was published in the journal Government Information Quarterly.
A group of state and county probation officials in New York State collaborated to develop an automated information system that would incorporate core business processes. This POLIS case illustrates how effective network management and strategies supported a good idea that initially seemed unlikely to succeed.