ITN masthead

HKS in the News July 13, 2012

1. Do Away With the Electoral College (Keyssar) The New York Times

2. Leveraging buying power: A lesson from the private sector (Kelman) Federal Computer Week

3. Picking a vice-president is a science in itself (Kamarck) Examiner.com

4. Child Abuse at Penn State: The Former University President's Responsibility (Heineman) The Atlantic


Do Away With the Electoral College

The New York Times

July 8

Commentary by: Alex Keyssar, Malcolm Wiener Center

Topic: The Electoral College system

In a presidential election season, it seems obvious (yet again) that we should rewrite parts of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution — so that we can dispense with the Electoral College and hold a national popular vote to choose our chief executive.

Indeed, if we were drafting a constitution today, few people would even consider a presidential electoral system like the Electoral College. (Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, in the mid-19th century, characterized it as “artificial, cumbrous, radically defective and unrepublican.”) The concerns that prompted the Founding Fathers to adopt this system — a distrust of popular elections, worry that the people would be unfamiliar with national candidates, a desire to reinforce the great constitutional compromises between large states and small states, slave states and free states — have lost much of their salience since 1787. …

Read More


Leveraging buying power: A lesson from the private sector

Federal Computer Week

July 12

Commentary by: Steve Kelman

Topic: Purchasing alliances in the private sector

The front page of the business section of today’s New York Times (yes, Washington Post readers, the Times has a standalone business section that is several pages long) featured an article called “16 Million Reams of Paper, Please,” about how private equity firms such as the Blackstone Group have banded together to negotiate better pricing on common items such as office supplies, overnight packaging, and commodity IT for the companies they own in their portfolios.

“We have incredible leverage,” a senior Blackstone executive was quoted in the article as saying, “The more volume we have, the lower our prices go.” The purchasing entity, called CoreTrust, uses both pre-negotiated contracts and reverse auctions to bring prices down. They basically demand that their vendors give the purchasing entity the lowest price that has been negotiated by any of the companies owned by the private equity group. …

Read More


Picking a vice-president is a science in itself

Examiner.com

July 12

Quoted: Elaine Kamarck, Belfer Center

Topic: Vice presidential selections

Mitt Romney's choice of vice-president is not in any way a wide-open field. In fact, it is the most undemocratic selection process one can imagine. Although theoretically he has the freedom to choose anyone, the nominee must be opposed to abortion. …

Over the decades most vice presidents were chosen for “balance, either geographic or ideological,” says Elaine Kamarck, a former Gore aide who is now a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “That built a tension into the relationship–and that tension kept the vice president in a subservient and unnatural position.”

The selection of Al Gore forever changed that formula. Gore was a youthful moderate Democrat from an adjoining state to Clinton's Arkansas altering “a balance model to a partner model.” …

Read More


Child Abuse at Penn State: The Former University President's Responsibility

The Atlantic

July 12

Commentary by: Ben Heineman, Belfer Center

Topic: Penn State child abuse scandal

In the months after Penn State's failure to report evidence of Jerry Sandusky's child abuse to law enforcement authorities became public last November, it became clear that the university had encouraged a toxic culture of silence to deflect any inquiry. Rather than investigate the assistant coach for serially molesting young boys, university officials chose to protect its vaunted football program.

In an exhaustive investigative report released today, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, retained by Penn State's trustees, confirms this disgraceful failure of leadership, one that is all too frequent at the top of important institutions. …

Read More



This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

To submit an item please email Jane Finn-Foley


John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page