Managing The Next Crisis: Twelve Principles For Dealing With Viral Uncertainty

The experiences of the last 18 months have pointed to the importance of well-managed actions at the local, national, and cross-border levels. Many of these steps address issues that are now well-documented, including medical support for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine management; supply chain challenges around vaccine production and distribution; impacts on local job markets; and the importance of addressing equity in delivering needed social services.

Lessons from COVID

By mid-May, 35 percent of Americans were fully vaccinated, with millions more receiving a vaccine each day. Meanwhile, the number of new cases was just 11 percent of the total back in January. This is, quite simply, an enormous technical and administrative breakthrough, with governments working with the medical community and other stakeholders to reach a growing share of the public.

Six Observations: COVID and America’s Laboratories of Democracy (Part Two)

My last blog examined three observations related to how COVID is effecting the globe, our individual states, and certain populations of our country. This post will cover an additional three observations, all around vaccinations.

Observation 4:  Stopping the virus depends on vaccinating the public

Six Observations: COVID and America’s Laboratories of Democracy (Part One)

The virus reveals a striking pattern of variation, in part because of the way the disease has spread and in part because of the different responses of American governments at all levels.  Consider how COVID, both in its outbreak and in vaccinations, reflects various approaches to governance in the U.S. (All of the data below are from late January 2021.)

Resilience is Local

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, there were hot spots in Seattle, Washington and Cook County Jail in Chicago. But, by the middle of April, the country’s biggest hot spot was a giant Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., an operation employing 3,700 people. Reports of cases began trickling in and then became a torrent.

Implications of the Variety in State Response to COVID-19

One is how different states reacted differently to the virus. The other is how the nation’s reliance on the states has affected the nation’s response.

What Covid teaches us about community

Kettl is a guest blogger for the IBM Center for the Business of Government and author of The Divided States of America (Princeton University Press, 2020).

It’s been like the devastating assault of Hurricane Katrina on America’s Gulf coast in 2005—multiplied more than a thousand times over. No part of the country has escaped as the virus has hop-scotched around, now hitting many communities that thought they had been spared. 

Donald F. Kettl

Donald F. Kettl is Professor Emeritus and Former Dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. He is also Senior Advisor for the Volcker Alliance and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Managing Risk, Improving Results: Lessons for Improving Government Management from GAO’s High Risk List

That list has grown from 14 programs in 1990 to 32 by 2015, when it was last updated.  These programs range from Medicare benefits to food safety oversight.

Dr. Kettl, one of the nation’s most insightful observers of government operations, stepped back to review what changes in the high-risk list mean over time.  He explored:

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Professor Emeritus and Former Dean
University of Maryland School of Public Policy

Donald F. Kettl is Professor Emeritus and Former Dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. He is also Senior Advisor for the Volcker Alliance and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Kettl has authored or edited numerous books, including The Divided States of America: Why Federalism Doesn’t Work (2020); Can Governments Earn Our Trust? (2017); Little Bites of Big Data for Public Policy (2017); The Politics of the Administrative Process (7th edition, 2017); Escaping Jurassic Government: Restoring America’s Lost Commitment to Competence (2016); System Under Stress: The Challenge to 21st Century American Democracy Homeland Security and American Politics (2014); The Next Government of the United States: Why Our Institutions Fail Us and How to Fix Them (2008); and The Global Public Management Revolution (2005).

He has received three lifetime achievement awards: the American Political Science Association’s John Gaus Award, the Warner W. Stockberger Achievement Award of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and the Donald C. Stone Award of the American Society for Public Administration.

Kettl has twice won the Louis Brownlow Book Award of the National Academy of Public Administration for The Transformation of Governance (2002); and System under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics (2005). His book, Escaping Jurassic Government: How to Recover America’s Lost Commitment to Competence, won the 2016 award for book of the year from the American Society for Public Administration.

Kettl has consulted for government organizations at all levels, including most recently the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He has appeared frequently in national and international media. He is chaired two gubernatorial blue-ribbon commissions for the Wisconsin state government, one on campaign finance reform and the other on government structure and finance. 

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