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Robert M. La Follette
School of Public Affairs
1225 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Telephone:  608.262.3581
Fax: 608.265.3233

Last updated:
September 26, 2013


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Publications: Workshop Reports: 2009

The Public Affairs Workshops are the capstone courses for the La Follette School's two master's degree programs, the Master of International Public Affairs and the Master of Public Affairs. Workshop students gain practical experience applying the tools of political, economic and statistical analysis they acquired during three semesters of coursework. In addressing actual problems faced by clients in the public, non-governmental and private sectors, the students work closely together in teams to produce carefully crafted reports that meet high professional and academic standards. This culminating project is the equivalent of the thesis for a degree from the La Follette School of Public Affairs. The students produce research-based, analytical, evaluative and prescriptive reports for real-world clients who range from municipal government offices to international development organizations. Through these reports, students contribute to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's outreach mission and to the Wisconsin Idea.

PA 869: Workshop in Public Affairs

Professor Susan Yackee

City of Milwaukee: Impacts of Pay-As-You-Throw Municipal Solid Waste Collection
Prepared by Catherine Hall, Gail Krumenauer, Kevin Luecke, and Seth Nowak for the City of Milwaukee, Department of Administration, Budget and Management Division

This report analyzes the possible implementation of a pay-as-you-throw fee system for municipal solid waste collection in the City of Milwaukee. The authors assess three options: the status quo, a multiple-cart system with pricing based on household-waste cart size, and a weight-based program that charges by the pound for refuse collection. They recommend the weight-based system.

Street Lighting in Milwaukee: An Evaluation of Street Lighting Circuit Upgrade Costs and Benefits
Prepared for the City of Milwaukee Department of Administration, Budget and Management Division by Cody Loew, John Moore, Michelle Scott, and Megan Stritchko

This report assesses alternatives for how the City of Milwaukee might complete its upgrade of street lighting circuitry to make it more reliable and cost effective. This analysis employs cost-benefit and political feasibility analysis to determine which alternative would be the best course of action. The authors recommend that in the short term, Milwaukee maintain the status quo policy of allocating $1 million annually toward upgrading remaining series circuits. In the long term, they advise that Milwaukee re-evaluate the policy in six years in light of any in changes in infrastructure functionality and political and financial circumstances.

Process, Statistical, and Comparative Analysis of Routine Claims for Damages against the City of Milwaukee
Prepared for the City of Milwaukee, Department of Administration, Budget and Management Division by Daniel Bush, Don Hynek, Thomas Robinson, and Aaron Varner

This report explores damage claims against the City of Milwaukee with process, statistical, and comparative analyses to determine if options are available for cost savings or process improvement. The authors recommend revisiting claims data in the near future and exploring management alternatives.

Professor Karen Holden

Racial Disproportionality in Wisconsin’s Child Welfare System
Prepared for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families by Alison Bowman, Laura Hofer, Collin O’Rourke, and Lindsay Read

This report examines disproportionality of African American and American Indian children in Wisconsin’s child welfare system. The authors review data, research on theories of racial disproportionality in the child welfare system and efforts by organizations and jurisdictions around the country to reduce disproportionality. The report features promising practices that include further analysis of child welfare data, creation of an action committee, and development of an action plan.

Addressing Health Disparities Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth and Adults in Wisconsin
Prepared for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, HIV/AIDS Program, Division of Public Health by Lauren Benditt, Emily Engel, Melissa Gavin, and Elizabeth Stransky

Evidence suggests that health disparities exist between the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and non-LGBT populations in Wisconsin and elsewhere. The authors recommend that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services include questions about gender identity and sexual orientation in its regular data collection. They describe four promising practices to reduce these disparities and outline a decision-making matrix to inform the agency's plan to address health needs of Wisconsin’s LGBT residents.

Additional analysis of 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data

Assessing Reverse Mortgages as a Viable Retirement Security Alternative
Prepared by Holly Bedwell, Margaret Carden, Nicole Kibble, and Sean Stalpes

Developed as an income security alternative, reverse mortgages allow seniors to convert their home equity into cash income. This report provides the U.S. Government Accountability Office an assessment of the risks to borrowers, lenders, and the government. The authors conclude that reverse mortgages represent a viable retirement security alternative, as long as borrowers are willing to incur the high upfront costs and rules and regulations are enforced.

PA 860: Workshop in International Public Affairs

Professor Andrew Reschovsky

Improving Free Basic Water Provision in South Africa
Prepared for the Republic of South Africa Financial and Fiscal Commission by Paulina Calfucoy, Jeramia Cibulka, Joseph Davison, Thomas Hinds, and Minhye Park

Access to a basic level of clean water is guaranteed as a right in South Africa's Constitution, and municipalities are responsible for delivering this service. This report examines how well three municipalities deliver water services to poor households while striving to recover costs through cross-subsidization. The authors identify issues to consider when structuring a water pricing system and suggest for directions for future research.

Fiscal Rules Effectiveness and Outcomes for Sub-Central Governments
Prepared for the Fiscal Federalism Network, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, by Martin Broyles Jessie Halpern-Finnerty, Andrew McGuire, J.P. Muller, and Justin Rivas

This project explores the effectiveness of sub-central government fiscal rules in producing their intended outcomes. The authors develop a set of regression-based models to test whether more stringent fiscal rules result in lower levels and growth rates of spending, taxation, and debt at the sub-central government level. The report includes information on the rationale for sub-central fiscal rules, data and modeling, and implications for further research.

Sub-Central Tax Competition in Canada, the United States, Japan, and South Korea
Prepared for the Fiscal Federalism Network, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, by Wangari Gichiru, Jennifer Hassemer, Corina Maxim, Riamsalio Phetchareun, and Dong Ah Won

Tax competition among sub-central governments can enhance efficiency or harm a country’s economy. This report surveys the fiscal structures of Canada, the United States, Japan, and South Korea and analyzes their sub-central government tax competition. Tax competition exists in varying degrees in all four countries. The authors offer policy options for channeling and regulating SCG tax competition to minimize harmful effects.

Resource Disputes in South Asia: Water Scarcity and the Potential for Interstate Conflict
Prepared for the Office of South Asia Analysis, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, by Emma Condon, Patrick Hillmann, Justin King, Katharine Lang, and Alison Patz

This report explores the role of water shortages related to transboundary rivers in interstate disputes in South Asia. The report analyzes the history and status of disputes, looking at the relationships between India and neighboring Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The core of the report analyzes supply and demand with projections based on the PODIUM model. Water likely will continue to be a major source of conflict, as shortages will occur in India, Bangladesh, and, especially, Pakistan.

PDF of summaries for 2009

2008 reports

2007 reports

2006 reports

2005 reports

2000-2004 reports

Front row from left: Emily Engel, Lauren Benditt, Beth Stransky and Melissa Gavin presented Addressing Health Disparities Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth and Adults in Wisconsin to officials of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, including Secretary Karen Timberlake, fourth from left. They produced the report as part of the Workshop in Public Affairs taught by professor Karen Holden, second from right.