News & Events

Professor Robert Putnam awarded Generations United Jack Ossofsky Award

Professor Robert Putnam is this year's recipient for lifetime achievement in support of children, youth, and older adults.  Read more about the award here.

Rappaport Institute Executive Director Named to Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors

Steve Poftak, Executive Director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston was recently named to the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  Read MA Governor Baker's press release here.

The Government Performance Lab at Harvard Kennedy School to Provide Technical Assistance for U.S. Cities to Transform Procurement Practices

The Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced on April 21, 2015 that it will support cities in improving the results they achieve with their contracted dollars as part of the “What Works Cities” initiative launched this week by Bloomberg Philanthropies.  Read the HKS press release here.

Professor Robert Putnam Discusses His Book "Our Kids" on CBS News

Professor Robert Putnam discusses his research and latest book, "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" on CBS News.  Watch the video and read the corresponding CBS MoneyWatch article here.

MBTA Special Panel Releases Report and Plan of Action

On April 8, 2015, Governor Baker's special panel, including Professor Jose Gomez-Ibanez, released their detailed report and outlined a plan of action to reform and improve the MBTA.  Read the Governor's press release here.

Moneyball for Government John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum Event

Panelists Jim Nussle, President and CEO of the Credit Union National Association, and Peter Orszag, Vice Chairman of Corporate Investment Banking and Chairman of the Financial Strategy and Solutions Group at Citigroup, joined moderator Nina Easton, Senior Editor and Columnist at Fortune, for a discussion on government’s use of evidence and data when spending money. The panelists discussed the effectiveness of federal welfare programs, the efficiency of the healthcare system, and the possibility of reforming entitlements.

Watch a recording of the event here.

Professor Edward Glaeser Delivers Keynote Lecture at Roma Tre University

Professor Ed Glaeser delivered a keynote lecture entitled "Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier" on March 25, 2015.  The lecture was held in collaboration with the University's Department of Economics.  Professor Glaeser was introduced by Taubman Center Visiting Scholar, Riccardo Crescenzi. 

Watch a recording of the lecture here.

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State and Local Governments Receive Assistance to Launch Pay for Success Projects Across the Country

The Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced the selection of five state and local governments to receive technical assistance to help develop Pay for Success (PFS) projects that align payment for community-based solutions with verified social outcomes. The competition, run with support from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, received applications from 30 state and local governments, demonstrating the growing interest in new approaches to identifying and funding effective social services to address pressing social problems. In addition to the five new state and local governments that will receive technical assistance, the SIB Lab will collaborate with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) on assisting a cohort of three state governments.

In the Pay for Success model, governments partner with private sector investors who provide up-front funding to promising service providers. Investors only receive a repayment from the government if the service provider’s work is measurably successful. Because governments pay only if the programs work, the PFS model has the potential to more effectively allocate taxpayer dollars while increasing funding for programs that deliver improved social outcomes.

“Governments around the country are looking for solutions to difficult social problems, from chronic homelessness to insufficient access to high quality early education. Governors and mayors are looking for ways to scale up good programs with limited fiscal resources. The Pay for Success approach has the potential to generate scalable solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing challenges,” said Jeffrey Liebman, professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and SIB Lab director. “The SIB Lab is excited to partner with these innovative government leaders who are trying to provide more effective services to their citizens and make better use of taxpayer dollars.”

During the past three years, the SIB Lab has helped Massachusetts, New York State, and Chicago launch Pay for Success contracts using social impact bonds. Newly selected state and local governments will join current SIB Lab partners Colorado, Connecticut, Denver, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and South Carolina in receiving pro bono technical assistance. The technical assistance will support recipients in designing, implementing, and evaluating policy initiatives in areas ranging from early childhood education to prison recidivism and economic self-sufficiency to green infrastructure.

The winners of the 2014 SIB Lab competition for technical assistance are:

  • Arkansas
  • DC Water (District of Columbia)
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • San Francisco

The SIB Lab evaluated project proposals based on the potential of the project to advance the PFS field by applying the model in new areas or policy fields, the level of commitment and readiness demonstrated by the applicant, and the feasibility of the proposed projects to scale.

“The SIF Pay for Success grantees held highly competitive, open competitions to select communities in need of services and here we’re seeing the results of those competitions,” said Lois Nembhard, Acting Director of the Social Innovation Fund. “We couldn’t be more enthusiastic for the first Pay for Success subgrantees, all charged with the important mission to measurably improve the lives of people most in need.”

The SIB Lab will provide each winning government with a full-time Government Innovation Fellow to be based for one year in the government agency that is spearheading the city of state’s pay-for success initiative, pro bono technical advising from Liebman and other senior experts, up to six months of programmer and data analyst time, and a small pool of flexible funding that can be used to remove barriers to implementation of PFS projects.

The SIB Lab will also be collaborating with another SIF awardee, CSH, to provide a joint cohort-based model of technical assistance to a cohort of state governments interested in the use of the PFS model to provide persons residing in institutional settings with the opportunity to transition to community-based supportive housing. As part of its collaboration with CSH, the SIB Lab will provide technical assistance to New Mexico, New York, and Washington.

“It is an honor for CSH to collaborate with the Harvard Kennedy School Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (HKS SIB Lab) to provide our subgrantees the in-depth knowledge they will need to succeed,” said Deborah De Santis, CSH President and CEO. “HKS SIB Lab has built a sterling, national reputation for its government-focused expertise on project development, evaluation design, and procurement, and we know our subgrantees will benefit greatly from their contributions.”

Comment from Winning State and Local Governments:

“This kind of innovative, public-private partnership can result in important reforms in our criminal-justice system while also saving the taxpayers money. Under this plan to ‘pay-for-success,’ the Department of Community Correction will be able to retain expert intervention services aimed at reducing the reincarceration rate in an accountable, cost-effective way.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas

“Early learning is a top priority for my administration and for the future success of Nevada’s children. As we search for new and innovative service models and funding sources, technical assistance from the Harvard Kennedy School will be of tremendous benefit. Nevada is honored to be a part of the Corporation for National and Community Service project.”

Governor Brian Sandoval, Nevada

“My Administration is committed to investing in what works to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians and save money for taxpayers. Pay for Success is an innovative strategy to finance proven programs, and we are honored to be selected and look forward to working with the Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab to find cost-effective and efficient solutions to help our most vulnerable citizens.”

Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania

“San Francisco is committed to combating poverty and building stronger mixed-income communities through our HOPE SF initiative. We will explore using a Pay for Success approach to tie funding to long-term HOPE SF outcomes to ensure all our residents, especially those in public housing, share in the prosperity of our City. We look forward to working with Harvard and CNCS to improve the quality of life for our most disconnected residents and end intergenerational poverty in our City.”

Mayor Edwin M. Lee, San Francisco

“In addition to the benefits of green infrastructure, this work will develop the social impact bond model and will be a huge public service to the industry and other CSO communities across the nation. And the SIB model is measurable, so that participants can objectively quantify results, which promotes accountability and smart programming.”

CEO and General Manager George S. Hawkins, DC Water

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Professor Robert D. Putnam's book "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" is reviewed by the New York Times

The New York Times reviewed Professor Robert D. Putnam's latest book, "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis."  The book will be available for purchase on March 10, 2015.  The NY Times review can be read here.

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Job Opportunity - Government Innovation Fellow with the HKS Social Impact Bond Technical Assistant Lab

The Harvard Kennedy School’s Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab (SIB Lab) is seeking to hire several Government Innovation Fellows to provide technical assistance to state and local governments interested in pursuing pay-for-success contracts using social impact bonds.

About the SIB Lab

The SIB Lab conducts research on how governments can foster social innovation and improve the results they obtain with their social spending.  An important part of our research model involves providing pro bono technical assistance to state and local governments implementing pay-for-success (PFS) contracts using social impact bonds (SIBs). Through this hands-on involvement, we gain insights into the barriers that governments face and the solutions that can overcome these barriers. The SIB Lab’s work supports broader government efforts to scale promising interventions, re-engineer service delivery systems, and increase the use of data in management and decision making.

Over the past three years, the SIB Lab has partnered with 10 state and local governments: Chicago, Colorado, Connecticut, Denver, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York State, Ohio, and South Carolina.  With the support of Government Innovation Fellows, these partner governments have launched four PFS projects, including the three largest in the world to date, and have another 10 projects under development. Project policy areas include early childhood education, child welfare, criminal justice, homelessness, and health. 

The SIB Lab has recently received funding to expand technical assistance to 10 additional governments over the next several years.  In these new projects, the SIB Lab aims to advance the PFS field by applying our technical assistance model to new policy areas, in new communities, and using innovative structures.

Position Overview

Government Innovation Fellows serve as the principal advisors to state and local governments receiving assistance from the SIB Lab.  Fellows are usually embedded full-time on-site with the government office or agency that is spearheading the PFS initiative.

Fellows function as the day-to-day project managers of the PFS initiative, and shepherd the project through conceptualization, design, contract negotiations, and initial implementation. Fellows develop substantial policy-area expertise, hands-on project management experience, technical skills (in areas such as benefit-cost analysis, financial modeling, and evaluation design), and deep familiarity with government processes.

Fellows receive supervision from the government’s PFS policy lead, an experienced SIB Lab Assistant Director, and Harvard Kennedy School Professor and SIB Lab Director Jeffrey Liebman.


  • Drive interagency effort to identify and assess promising issue areas where PFS contracts could help improve results.
  • Conduct benefit-cost analyses of social programs, analyze existing evaluation studies, and review program literature to inform government selection of promising interventions.
  • Help governments access, match, and analyze government administrative data to identify project target populations and establish baseline performance outcomes.
  • Draft procurement solicitations and manage procurement processes, including the evaluation of proposals from service providers and/or intermediaries.
  • Coordinate project development, evaluation design, and implementation planning across state agencies as well as with the intermediary and service provider.
  • Support the design and documentation of a rigorous evaluation methodology.
  • Construct financial models to estimate budgetary impacts and inform government negotiations with services providers, intermediaries, and funders.
  • Assist with community outreach, legislative engagement, and communications, including organizing public forums, developing a communications strategy, and drafting press materials.
  • Contribute to key SIB Lab tasks, including representing the SIB Lab at public events, drafting policy briefs, and building organizational infrastructure.


  • Demonstrated passion for improving government performance and for ameliorating social problems.
  • Outstanding quantitative and analytical skills, with experience generating and using data to drive insights.
  • Excellence in both written and verbal communications, including policy memos, slide decks, and public speaking.
  • Exceptional project management capabilities and creativity in problem solving.
  • Track record of adeptly navigating complex organizations, developing trust with senior leaders, and building relationships among diverse groups of stakeholders.
  • Self-motivated with an orientation towards results over process and a track record of driving results with limited supervisory direction.  Willingness to learn, attention to detail, and ability to multi-task are critical.
  • Graduate level training in public policy, business, law, economics, or other related fields is highly preferred. 
  • At least two years of professional work experience is highly preferred.
  • An understanding of program evaluation concepts is highly preferred.

Additional Information

The positions are funded for one year, with a base salary ranging from $66,000 to $70,000. Depending on project status, there may be opportunities to extend the fellowship.

The exact locations for which Fellows will be hired have not yet been finalized as host governments are still being selected.  Sites are likely to include Arkansas, Baltimore, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC among other locations.  At least one Fellow will be based out of the SIB Lab’s Cambridge, MA offices. 

Positions are expected to begin in the summer or fall of 2015.

Application Instructions

To apply, please submit a brief cover letter and a current resume/CV to Current students and recent graduates should also submit a transcript. Please include “Government Innovation Fellow 2015” in the subject line.  All materials should be submitted as PDF or MS Word documents with the applicant’s name in all filenames.

The cover letter should detail how the applicant’s skills and experiences meet the qualifications of the position, and should also include contact information for three references. Applicants should also indicate any geographical limitations in their cover letter.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning in February 2015.

For more information on the SIB Lab, visit

Harvard University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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