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town meetingUrban Institute researchers evaluate federal, state, and local government programs and policies. Early on, we pioneered performance-management techniques government agencies still use to evaluate and improve public services, from economic development to garbage collection. And now we're adapting those strategies for the nonprofit sector—at home and abroad. Read more.

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Evaluation: Rebuild by Design Phase I (Research Report)
Carlos Martin, Elizabeth Oo, Rolf Pendall, Diane K. Levy, Abigail Baum

Rebuild by Design launched in June 2013 by the federal Hurricane Sandy Task Force. HUD, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the JPB Foundation partnered with the Urban Institute to evaluate the first phase of RBD from conception through design awards. The evaluation found that RBD’s implementation held true to its innovative vision for integrating design competition into disaster recovery and its ambition for regional and resilient infrastructure. Leadership among the core partners and the magnitude of the $1 billion in CDBG-DR funding for awards motivated all of the key stakeholders in spite of an expedited timeframe and daunting requirements.

Posted to Web: October 13, 2014Publication Date: October 13, 2014

Joint SNAP and Medicaid/CHIP Program Eligibility and Participation in 2011 (Research Report)
Laura Wheaton, Victoria Lynch, Pamela J. Loprest, Erika Huber

More than one-third of all children were eligible for both Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits in 2011, the most recent year of data available. Far fewer adults were jointly eligible. Reasons for the difference include children’s high poverty rates and state eligibility policies. However, joint participation rates (the percent of eligibles receiving benefits) suggest that many eligibles were not participating. In four out of five of states with available data, less than three-quarters of those jointly eligible (adults and children) were receiving both benefits. Efforts to streamline and integrate application systems have the potential to improve program reach to families in need.

Posted to Web: September 29, 2014Publication Date: September 29, 2014

Using Behavioral Economics to Inform the Integration of Human Services and Health Programs under the Affordable Care Act (Research Report)
Fredric Blavin, Stan Dorn, Jay Dev

Behavioral economics, which analyzes how behavior sometimes departs from the rational calculation of self-interest, can help Medicaid programs use targeted enrollment strategies more effectively by eliminating apparently modest procedural requirements, which can greatly reduce participation levels. It can also help health coverage applicants receive SNAP, even though demonstrating eligibility for health subsidies and choosing a health plan can tax many consumers' cognitive resources, making it hard to process information about SNAP. For example, health applicants could be given the option to have the state's food agency contact them later to complete a SNAP application by phone.

Posted to Web: September 15, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

Opportunities under the Affordable Care Act for Human Services Programs to Modernize Eligibility Systems and Expedite Eligibility Determination (Research Report)
Stan Dorn, Rebecca Peters

Human services programs can benefit from 90 percent federal funding for information technology investments that are complete by the end of 2015 and that: 1) build a service that helps both Medicaid and human services; or 2) build an interface that helps Medicaid use human services records to verify eligibility or "fast track" enrollment. Once the Affordable Care Act is fully phased in, Medicaid will be the country's most widely-used need-based program. Human services programs can use Medicaid records to streamline eligibility determination, despite limits on information sharing and differences between Medicaid and human services program rules, including household definitions.

Posted to Web: September 15, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

The State of Nonprofit Governance (Research Report)
Amy Blackwood, Nathan Dietz, Thomas H. Pollak

This report provides a snapshot of nonprofit governance policies and practices among operating public charities. Using IRS Form 990 data, we find that many public charities have good governance policies and practices in place. In 2010, more than 60 percent of organizations had a conflict of interest policy, an independent audit and a compensation review and approval process for their chief executive. We also find that organizational characteristics such as size, type of organization, government funding, age, board size and board independence all appear related to whether or not a public charity chooses to adopt these recommended practices.

Posted to Web: September 11, 2014Publication Date: September 11, 2014

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