December 21, 2006
As the Fall semester winds down, the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government has continued to expand and explore an already deep body of research and activities.
On November 29 th, our Asia Programs co-sponsored with the University Asia Center a conference on “Taiwan and International Organizations: Achievements and Challenges."
The conference examined Taiwan's international profile in two organizations where it has been an active member, the World Trade Organization and the Asian Development Bank. Professor Heh-song Wang, an adviser to the Ministry of Finance in Taiwan, and Stanley Kao, formerly Deputy Permanent Representative to the WTO, discussed the implications of Taiwan's activities in these two organizations for Taiwan's global profile, participation in other international organizations, and cross-strait relations.
Thanks to the generosity of the Bijan and Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani, we are able this year to begin providing small grants to faculty members as seed funding for research and course development relating to the core interests of the Center. Our inaugural group of awards has been given to the following individuals: Robert Stavins, for his study on Corporate Social Responsibility Through an Economic Lens; Elizabeth Keating, for her research on pension funding; Jeffrey Frankel, for his study on Evaluating China's Exchange Rate Regime; Alan Trager, for a case study on public-private partnerships involving Eli Lilly; and Victor Mayer-Schoenberger, to develop a transatlantic conference on EU-US relations in the airline industry. The next round of awards will be announced in February.
In Fellows’ news, after serving on the Riverside Park Fund Board of Directors (RPF) for ten years, Senior Fellow Alan Trager was recently elected its Chairman of the Board in New York City. R iverside Park, inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted, is one of New York City’s flagship parks and a New York City Scenic Landmark. It includes 330 acres of parkland along four miles of the Hudson River. The Committee on Strategic Planning and Development has just completed a Strategic Plan for Riverside Park, which was prepared in partnership with the New York City Parks Department. Among Alan’s priorities as Chairman will be to use this plan to insure equitable distribution of resources and services reaching a wider variety of neighborhoods and users near the Park. Also recently, on November 20, 2006, Senior Fellow Jamey Rosenfield delivered the opening keynote address at the UNCTAD "Expert Meeting on Foreign Direct Investment in Natural Resources" in Geneva. His speech was on the emerging role of National Oil Companies (NOCs) and the future landscape for global energy investment.
In Ethiopia, the DSA project is now celebrating 10 years of assisting the government to reform and modernize it's financial management systems. The project has trained over 70,000 Ethiopians on how to use the budget and accounting systems that have been put in place and a performance framework has been added to the input budgeting process. During the upcoming 11th and final year of activity, these systems, already largely run by Ethiopian staff, will be fully transferred to the government. A recent milestone was the implementation of a custom integrated financial information system which connects the financial management systems to Ethiopia's communications satellite, allowing even the most remote rural communities to transfer local budget and accounting data to the federal government in real time. Prompt financial information is a conditionality by international donors for continued financial assistance.
Faculty have also continued to have a busy fall. Linda Bilmes co-authored an updated analysis on the cost of the Iraq War with Columbia’s Joseph Stiglitz, which was recently published in the Milken Institute Economics Review and has been cited in the New York Times, the St. Petersburg Times, the Houston Chronicle and McClatchy newspapers. She has appeared on ABC World News, Bloomberg News and on radio interviews with WQED and Nieman Watchdog to discuss aspects of the Iraq War and the cost of returning veterans. Linda is also leading a team of 17 Kennedy School students, working to help Newton, Massachusetts, with revenue forecasting and capital budgeting. This project involves building the financial model, benchmarking key variables against other AAA-rated cities, and will help the city figure out the best way to finance building a new high school.
This past June, Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger co-chaired the sixth Rueschlikon Conference on Information Policy with Lewis Branscomb, the Kennedy School’s Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management, Emeritus. The official conference report, “Hero With a Thousand Faces: A Report of the 2006 Rueschlikon Conference on Information Policy,” was recently published, offering an up-to date summary of the latest thinking on innovation and entrepreneurship policy. The conference report was authored by Kenneth Cukier, technology correspondent for The Economist.
Other recently published pieces include Cary Coglianese and Jennifer Nash’s Leveraging the Private Sector. Recently reviewed by the Multi-State Working Group on Environmental Performance, the review finds Cary and Jennifer, “courteous but very tough analysts.” Senior Fellow Tom Healey published an op-ed in the November 28 thBoston Globe on “The Ticking Time Bomb In State Pensions. ”
For my part, I had the honor of accompanying Kofi Annan to the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, on December 11, where he gave his final public address, on the United States and global governance. It was a bittersweet moment for me, the end of a close ten-year relationship that I treasure immensely.
We hope you and your families have a happy and healthy holiday season.
John G. Ruggie
Frank and Denie Weil Director, Center for Business and Government
Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs