The mechanics of government – the day-to-day processes, the behind the scenes work – are critical to a well-functioning city, but don’t usually make headlines unless something is wrong. However, one of the key components of a high road city is efficient, democratic government.


Cities can and should explore numerous ways to improve efficiency, support and improve their workforce, engage their citizens and work well with their neighbors. The policy ideas in this section range from voting to encouraging citizen input to sunshine laws, but all promote good governance.


Civic Innovation

What is innovation and who's job is it? Chief Innovation Officers work on a broad range of things for cities, and the offices vary in size and organizations. How do these officials drive change

Behavioral Science

By using behavioral science to craft “nudges” or small tweaks to policies and programs that help increase the chances of a particular outcome, local governments can save money, improve services, and reach constituents in new ways.


Advances in smart sensors, data technology, and data analysis offer promising advantages to cities and city leaders who take the time to learn how to best use them and integrate them into the existing infrastructure and culture of their communities. 


Climate change represents the single greatest long-term threat to our cities and citizens. Yet local governments are sharing in the profits made by the fossil fuel industry – investing in the very companies that are directly responsible for this threat. Divestment, a strategy pioneered in this country during the antiapartheid movement, is a powerful tool that we can use in this fight.

Human Services

Competition in the funding allocation process and rigorous evaluation of outcomes can help achieve better performance and ensure return on investment. But many cities don’t know where to start. 

Preserving Local Control

Across America, efforts to enact local laws on a range of issues are the focus of a growing trend: they are being preempted by state legislation that undermines local democracy. Cities can and should defend local control.