fbpx Policy Design and Delivery II | Harvard Kennedy School
John Donahue Photo

John Donahue

Raymond Vernon Senior Lecturer in Public Policy

Eric Rosenbach Photo

Eric Rosenbach

Lecturer in Public Policy

Nick Sinai Photo

Nick Sinai

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy


In this second part of PDD (API502), you will switch gears from policy/strategy formulation to execution. You will learn about project management, including systems thinking, leveraging digital technologies,  financial management,  performance monitoring,  and  risk management.  You will learn how to leverage analytical tools and guiding frameworks, and how to think about the use of data to optimize your chances of success. By the end of this course, you will be equipped to develop a plan from formulation to execution.  MPP1 students can select from the following options:

Section A (Eric Rosenbach):  You are the chief of staff of a significant ministry, the executive director of an international NGO, or humanitarian assistance agency.  You just received the go-ahead for your recommended course of action to a policy challenge you had proposed to your minister, board of directors, or commissioner.  Now you are tasked with policy execution. What next steps are needed for a successful implementation of the strategic initiative? How do you ensure that you assess the project costs correctly and remain within budget? How do you establish a team and timeline?  How will you use technology to optimize the project execution? How can you mitigate the risks that may derail the initiative? In this version of API502, you will learn how to execute policy and strategy in the international arena.  In this course, you will focus on topics such as refugees, emergency humanitarian assistance, disaster response, space, climate, and building international coalitions.

Section B (Nick Sinai):  You are a senior executive at federal agency responsible for fulfilling an important new Presidential policy initiative—with funding and legislative authority. Think implementing student debt relief, delivering vaccines, or reforming the healthcare insurance marketplace.  Implementing this new policy will require new or improved digital experiences for the applicants, beneficiaries, or customers—and likely also improved government systems and processes for employees too.  What are the next steps to be successful in planning and in the execution?  This version of API502 will approach the foundational topics (systems thinking, design and technology, project planning, financial management, risk management, and talent) with a particular focus on the digital delivery of government services. Through a combination of applied exercises, case discussions, and a team-based project, you’ll learn about the opportunities and challenges of using technology to deliver simple, seamless, and secure government services. Students will have the opportunity to interact with digital and IT leaders in government and a limited number of clients are available for students to work with during their spring Personal Policy Challenge. 

Section C (Jack Donahue):  You are the chief operating officer of a metropolitan transportation agency, the legislative director for the Minister of Commerce and Industry, or the chief of staff for the organization implementing your country’s carbon-reduction commitments.  A shared feature of these and many other public roles is responsibility for policy goals whose delivery involves the private sector.  This version of API-502 builds on your learning from API-501 with a special focus on five categories of public-private interaction for policy delivery:  Mandates, regulations, subsidies, contracts, and partnerships. For each category we will recap and extend key Policy Design and Delivery frameworks; discuss real-world cases—some success stories, some not—of leaders seeking to harness private capacity to public objectives; and develop or deepen implementation plans for your Personal Policy Challenge.

This course is required for MPP1 students and not