What We Do for Public Agencies

Our principal goal is to assist government in delivering better public services. We provide resources to the public sector in three ways:

  1. We offer direct technical assistance to federal and New York City agencies.
  2. We provide research that shows how service design benefits both agencies and citizens.
  3. We create opportunities for policymakers to share information with public-sector peers and designers.

Technical Assistance with the Design of Public Services

The Public Policy Lab seeks public partners interested in tackling service-delivery challenges. With each partner, our goal is to develop and test a pragmatic plan to improve some aspect of public service provision, respecting a partner’s resource and staffing requirements.

During each project, we offer our partners the expert guidance of our seasoned board and staff. When appropriate, we also provide the dedicated assistance of individually selected design fellows — see more about our design fellowship program.

Depending on the scope of the project, partner organizations may be asked to contribute staff time, facilities, and other in-kind resources. We also request that partners make a small contribution toward administrative costs and demonstrate executive support in advance of initiating the program.

Research Support for Public Innovation

We also support our public-sector partners with helpful case studies, best-practice guidance, and metrics: Most technical-assistance projects begin with a research program to evaluate leading programs in the policy arena. We also identify promising private-sector innovations that may be transferable. And we collect statistics relating to cost and time savings, to increased customer satisfaction, and to other positive social impacts.

Our other primary form of  research relates to user-defined needs: We investigate the requirements, preferences, and current experience of the intended users of the policy initiative.

All our research is geared toward encouraging systemic change in public-service delivery, not just one-off design solutions. To that end, we publish our research for reference by public agencies and designers nationwide. Learn more about our publications.

Information-Sharing Opportunities

Policy makers are so busy facing their own challenges that they often have little opportunity to reach out to peers at other agencies, let alone private-sector professionals. One of our services for public partners is to arrange for information exchange with staff at sister agencies. We also reach out to policymakers from other branches of government,  in other cities, or from abroad. These events allow us, in addition, to bring together a range of design experts and academics to provide resources and inspiration.