Faculty Research

At the Trachtenberg School, we try to live out the idea that scholarship benefits from input even as it creates significant output and influences real-world application. We bring scholars, practitioners and students together to conduct research, discuss ideas and shape current and future policy. The faculty of the Trachtenberg School provide expertise that informs the policy debats that rage in Washington, D.C., and across the country. They are called  upon by members of the media, respected think tanks and government officials  to share knowledge and research.

Bill Adams and Donna Lind Infeld published “Malaysian Think Tanks and University Policy Institutes: Reflecting or Diverging from Regional Expectations?” in On Think Tanks, the leading online center for think tank research. The paper was included in the book “On Think Tanks: 2018 Annual Review” and presented at a conference at the University of Bath. 

Burt Barnow took over as program director of the PhD in Public Policy and Administration. Additionally, he represented GW on a Fulbright award in Myanmar, where he taught a course on Public Finance for faculty and graduate students at Yangon University of Economics. He also gave invited talks in Myanmar, the Czech Republic and Israel. Due to his widely recognized expertise in labor economics and evaluation of job training programs, he was also invited to give talks closer to home, including at the White House. His research continues to focus on program evaluation, performance measurement and labor economics. Along with David Greenberg, Barnow edited a special issue on the uses and limitations of administrative data and survey data for Evaluation Review. He serves as associate editor for methods for the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and Consulting Editor for Evaluation Review, the premier journals in public policy and program evaluation, respectively. He serves on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Assessing the Minerva Initiative and the Contribution of Social Science to Addressing Security Concerns, his 11th NAS committee. He was recently appointed to the Social Security Administration Panel of Outside Scholars and Practitioners for the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium and he is an appointed member of the District of Columbia's Youth Apprenticeship Advisory Committee.

Lori Brainard’s article with Staci Zavattaro, “Social Media as Micro-Encounters: Millennial Preferences as Moderators of Digital Value Creation,” was published in the International Journal of Public Sector Management in spring 2019. Additionally, Brainard’s research on timely issues including social media and civic engagement among black millenials and the ways the Parkland High School shooting survivors use social media to organize the March for our Lives is under way. Brainard‘s class "Perspectives on Public Values" was featured in the Governing article "Trachtenberg School Efforts Toward Public Service Values: Emphasizing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion."

Jennifer Brinkerhoff is a world-renowned expert on diasporas, and on advancing our knowledge of causal mechanisms in international development. Her prominence as a thought leader in this field was highlighted by the fact that she was invited to deliver plenary remarks at the European Research Council Starting Grant Project Conference at the University of Warwick, in Coventry, United Kingdom, and to speak at the Global Forum on Remittances, Investment, and Development at the United Nations.

Leah Brooks serves as co-director of the Center for Washington Area Studies, which hosted events including a panel discussion featuring former DC Mayor Anthony Williams reflecting on the legacy of his administration's development decisions. She wrote “State of the Capital Region 2019: Housing Growth and Affordability,” a report that launched this year with plans for yearly updates. The report was released on May 20 at a Brookings Institution event with 300 attendees and drew media attention from WAMU, Greater Greater Washington, Urban Turf and other outlets. Brooks spoke at the Council of Government’s leadership retreat in the summer of 2019. The center also hosted the 6th Washington DC Urban Economics Day, bringing together greater DC area urban economists to talk research. Brooks' article, "Vestiges of Transit," about the continuing impact of long-dead streetcars on urban form, was published in the Review of Economics and Statistics. Her article with Zachary Liscow of Yale attempting to quantify the anecdotal claims the U.S. spends more than it once did on infrastructure was solicited for a National Bureau of Economic Research volume. In July, she was quoted by Wired in the article “In New York, friendships run along subway lines” and she spoke to WYPR-FM, Baltimore about addressing poverty in light of President Trump’s tweets critical of Baltimore.

David Brunori spoke to Governing for the article “Why Cities and Pension Funds are Suing Big Banks (Again)” and was quoted by The Washington Business Journal in the article “HQ2 incentives: A strategic move for the region or a waste of money?”

Christopher Carrigan and Sanjay Pandey hosted almost 80 academics and practitioners at the Trachtenberg School to consider how behavioral insights can inform key topics of public administration scholarship such as bureaucratic red tape, administrative burden, and regulation. Following insights provided at the conference, participants were invited to submit completed manuscripts to the Public Administration Review so they may undergo the journal’s normal peer review process. 

Christopher Carrigan had two articles published in Public Administration Review. He was invited by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management to participate in a roundtable at the Eisenhower Executive Building to discuss best practices for sharing government data with researchers. He received an invitation to participate in a workshop at the University of Chicago Law School to discuss crossover between studies of leadership at private and public sector organizations and another invitation to join a roundtable considering nudges as regulatory instruments as part of the conference at GW examining the future of regulation. He consulted with a senior official at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on reform initiatives they were considering.

Stephanie Riegg Cellini continues to serve as a nonresident senior fellow at the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution and was promoted to research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). She also serves as the co-organizer of the DC Economics of Education Working Group, a monthly meeting for more than 100 researchers and analysts working on education topics throughout the DMV. Her paper with Rajeev Darolia, PhD ‘12, and Lesley Turner, “Where Do Students Go When For-Profit Colleges Lose Federal Aid, was published in The American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.  As a nationally recognized expert on the economics of for-profit colleges, Prof. Cellini was asked to speak about the topic with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Westpoint. She wrote a set of “point-counterpoint” articles for the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management regarding restricting federal student aid to for-profit colleges along with policy briefs for the Brookings Institutions’ Brown Center. In summer 2019, Prof. Cellini became a part-time fellow with the House Committee on Education and Labor. The fellowship is a new initiative funded through the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Arnold Foundation in an effort to bring researchers into the policymaking process as they debate the (potentially) landmark legislation related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Her research often makes the news. She was quoted by USA Today in the article “A college closed, leaving thousands without a degree. How to keep it from happening to you,” was cited in The Salt Lake Tribune article “Commentary: Government aid should educate the many, not enrich the few” and was quoted by NPR in the article “Does More Federal Aid Raise Tuition Costs? Not For Most Students, Research Says.”

Dylan Conger served on a National Academy of Sciences committee that published “Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures.” Conger also published “The Effect of Price Shocks on Undocumented College Students’ Attainment and Completion” in the Journal of Public Economics and “New Benefits of Public School Pre-Kindergarten Programs” in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Conger is Co-Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation-funded study examining the effect of AP Science courses. She presented her research at several universities, including as the Monroe-Paine Distinguished Lecture in Public Affairs at the University of Missouri and presentations at University of Maryland College Park, George Mason University and the Lab @ DC. Conger serves as Co-Editor for Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM) and serves on the editorial boards of several top field journals in education and is a member of Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management Policy Council. Prof. Conger serves as a consultant to the Russell Sage Foundation, The Smith Richardson Foundation and the Regional Educational Lab-NW. This fall, Conger became the associate director of the Trachtenberg School.

Joe Cordes completed his service as associate director of the Trachtenberg School and continues to serve as a co-director of the GW Regulatory Studies Center while chairing the Faculty Senate Committee on Fiscal Planning and Budgeting. Additionally, he serves on the Provost's Committee on Salary Equity, the Benefits Advisory Committee, the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Salary and Promotion Policies, the Faculty Senate, the George Washington Re-Accreditation Steering Committee and the Sub-Committee on Needs and Resources of the University Steering Committee. Recently, he published two articles. His article with Sanjay Pandey, Sheela Pandy and William Winfrey, “Use of Social Impact Bonds to Address Social Problems:  Understanding Contractual Risks and Transaction Costs,” was published in Nonprofit Management and Leadership and his article with Daniel Perez, PhD ‘20, “Measuring Costs and Benefits of Privacy Controls: Conceptual Issues and Empirical Estimates” was published in the Journal of Law, Economics and Policy.  Recently,  he was quoted by Bloomberg in the article “Trump Asked Agencies to Look at GM Subsidy Cuts, Source Says.”

Avi Dor authored the article "New York’s Vaccine Mandate" for The New York Times.

Susan Dudley authored several articles for Forbes including,  “Competition Can Be Good For Regulators Too,” “Tick tock, Trump’s regulatory clock,” and “Regulatory Year In Review.” She was quoted by the Financial Times in the article “Introduction of business rules slows sharply under Trump.”

Nina Kelsey spoke at an outward-facing flash conference on the Green New Deal organized by the Johns Hopkins’ SAIS in the spring. She began an ambitious new research project examining why cities around the world engage in climate mitigation policy like establishing local greenhouse gas reduction goals. This research project will look at "hot-spots" of city-level activity including the US, Canada, Italy, Taiwan, and Brazil, to create a broad, cross-regional exploration of why local policymakers are making globally-focused policy. A pilot phase of research conducted over the summer examined cities in Sweden. She also wrapped up work on the AHEAD Project, an externally funded collaboration between scholars at Resources for the Future (DC), UC Berkeley (Berkeley), and the Postdam Institute for Climate Change (Berlin) examining "lessons learned" for climate policy from Germany and California; and remained active in STGlobal, an organization that runs an annual conference focused on research presentations by students in science and technology policy.

Leighton Ku led a study about the benefits of expanding Medicaid in North Carolina that was referenced in the Raleigh News & ObserverThe Washington Examiner, North Carolina Health News, Associated Press and the St. Louis Dispatch. He was quoted by The Washington Post in the article “Democratic lawmakers accuse their own party of proposing ‘deep’ cuts to health centers for poor.”

Peter Linquiti continues to serve as program director of the MA-ENRP degree and co-advisor for the Environmental Policy field of study for MPPs and MPAs.  He was recently named Associate Editor of the Journal of Environmental Studies & Sciences.  In addition, Linquiti has been commissioned by Sage/CQ Press to write a policy analysis textbook for graduate students.  Its working title is Rebooting Policy Analysis for the 21st Century: Skepticism, Neutrality and Humility and it aims to help readers participate meaningfully in the policy discourse of a post-truth era.  The book offers a pragmatic take on the integration of disparate academic fields, provides practical advice for working policy analysts, and advocates an analytic mindset built on skepticism, neutrality, and humility.

Jasmine McGinnis Johnson focuses her research on philanthropy and human resources.  She is the co-editor with Sanjay Pandey of a special issue, “Nonprofit Management, Public Administration, and Public Policy: Separate, Subset, or Intersectional Domains of Inquiry? in the Public Performance and Management Review journal that was recently released. She published two additional articles in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly over the past academic year, “Game of Loans: The Relationship Between Education Debt, Social Responsibility Concerns and Making A Career Choice in the Public, Private, and Nonprofit Sectors” with Eddy Ng and “Are our Assumptions about Diaspora and Immigrant Philanthropy Generalizeable? Exploring the Relevance to High-Income Countries of Origin” with Jennifer Brinkerhoff and Dangis Guedlis. Additionally, she was asked by the U.S. Department of State to teach about social enterprise for their International Visitor Leadership Program and grantmaking fundamental for their Young African Leaders Network. She served on the ARNOVA Formal Mentoring Committee to develop a formal mentoring program, and reviewed conference proposal for the annual conference of the Public Management Research Association and served on a National Science Foundation panel reviewing grants on Science and Technology policy.

In November 2019, Kathy Newcomer’s new book with Charles Johnson, Federal Inspectors General: Truthseekers in Turbulent Times will be published by the Brookings Press. She currently serves on her sixth National Academy of Sciences committee, this one focused on Assessing the Minerva Research Initiative and the Contribution of Social Science to Addressing Security Concerns (2018-19). She and visiting researcher Quentin Wilson wrote an answer to the question "How can public servants integrate evidence into policy?” for the website apolitical. Prof. Newcomer, Karol Olejniczak and Nick Hart, PhD ‘16, received a grant for the IBM Center for the Business of Government to publish a report “Designing Learning Agendas:  Moving Beyond Compliance.” Newcomer and Jasmine McGinnis Johnson contributed a chapter on “Effective Faculty Development” for The Public Affairs Faculty Manual: A Guide to Effective Management of Public Affairs Programs.  And, she and George Julnes wrote “Supporting the AEA Mission of Improving Evaluation Practice, Methods and Use: The Timely Value of a National Academy of Evaluation” in the American Journal of Evaluation.

Sanjay Pandey’s paper with Sheela Pandey (Penn State Harrisburg) and Leisha DeHart-Davis (UNC), "Follower Response to Deviant Leader Behavior: Does Leader’s Gender Matter?" won the Charles Levine Best Conference Paper Award at the Academy of Management Conference. Additionally, Pandey published four articles in refereed journals and delivered four conference papers in addition to editing a special edition of the Review of Public Personnel Administration on Theory and Method in Public Administration. Pandey, along with Professor Jasmine McGinnis Johnson, hosted a nonprofit management symposium at the Trachtenberg School in June 2017. In Spring 2019, their introductory essay “Nonprofit Management, Public Administration and Public Policy: Separate, Subset, or Intersectional Domains of Inquiry?”  -- led off a special issue of Public Performance and Management Review with several edited papers from presentations at the conference. Throughout the past academic year, Prof. Pandey had a paper with Kathryn Hendren, PhD ‘19, and Qian Luo, PhD ‘19, in Public Administration Review. His article with Sheela Pandey, Joseph Cordes and William Winfrey, PhD ‘19, “Use of Social Impact Bonds to Address Social Problems: Understanding Contractual Risks and Transaction Costs” appeared in Nonprofit Management and Leadership

Elizabeth Rigby completed her term as MPP program director in the summer of 2018. Rigby's research was published in Political Research Quarterly and the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law among other venues last year. She served as a faculty mentor, lecturer and discussion leader for the nation-wide Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars - an interdisciplinary group of doctoral students from underrepresented groups.  Off campus, Rigby continues to devote time to applied policy work, particularly focused on system reforms in the DC foster care system, as well as implementation of the new federal entitlement for prevention services enacted as part of foster care finance reform last year. She collaborated with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to host a convening for experts in evidence based policy to meet with the federal-level administrators responsible for implementing the newly-enacted Families First child welfare financing reform law. She recently completed a white paper making recommendations for foundation and government officials based on what she’s learning.

Janice Shack-Marquez was quoted by CNN in the article “How to prove you have management potential even if you’re not in charge.”

Gregory D. Squires was the editor of the recently  published book, The Fight for Fair Housing: Causes, Consequences, and Future Implications of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act (Routledge 2018). He was a guest presenter about fair housing at the Annual Conference of the American Sociological Association in Philadelphia, PA and at the University of Bucharest in Romania. He was quoted by Huffpost in the article "The Stomach-Churning Spectacle Of Amazon’s HQ2 Process," by the Greater Greater Washington website in “A mapping project shows how racial discrimination in housing persists in DC,” by The DC Line in "New website maps out history of housing segregation in DC,” by The Chicago Tribune in the article “State Farm denied claims because of racial discrimination, lawsuit alleges” and by CNN in the article "A new Supreme Court is poised to take a chunk out of MLK's legacy." 

Eiko Strader has been serving on the expert panel for the Intersectionality Toolkit Project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and provided expert advice on the gender wage gap and single motherhood poverty in Louisiana, for the office of Louisiana Congressional Representative Garret Graves. She also provided consultation on equal wage legislation in the District of Columbia for the Office of Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. Strader’s academic article in Social Forces was mentioned by the BBC and she’s completing another article for International Migration Review. She was elected secretary for the Early Career Network Special Interest Group within the Work Family Researchers Network and provided assistance to charter the GW Institute for Intersectionality Equity Research and Policy, and began serving on their advisory board.

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg was quoted by The Associated Press in the article "North Carolina university leaders depart amid culture war."

Robert Weiner was cited in the MarketWatch article “Kuwait finance minister talks up push for economic diversification from oil."

Michael Worth and Matthew Lambert published a new edited volume, Advancing Higher Education: New Strategies for Fundraising, Philanthropy, and Engagement with Rowman & Littlefield. The fifth edition of his best-selling textbook Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice was published at the beginning of last school year. He gave two research presentations at academic conferences, including one at the Symposium on Free Market Solutions to Urban Grand Challenges at Johns Hopkins University.

Kate Yang published three articles over the last year, including a piece in Public Administration Review. That paper received the Wen Wang award for Best Young Scholar Paper from CAPPA. Her scholarly articles represent a first systematic, data-driven research on municipal bankruptcy and related fiscal rules. Her research received inquiries from media outlets such as Governing and the Bond Buyer, and think tanks such as Pew Charitable Trust. She was named Lincoln Institute Scholar by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. She presented at five academic conferences and served as a discussant at forums hosted by the Brookings Institution and Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. Her dissertation was awarded NASPAA’s outstanding dissertation award. 

In Fall 2018, the Trachtenberg School warmly welcomed back Thomas D. Cook, Ph.D as a research professor and welcomed Anil Nathan, Ph.D as a new faculty member.

Cook returns to the Trachtenberg School as a peripatetic research professor after completing his sabbatical here six years ago. 

“I had great fun then and published quite a bit with Travis St. Clair, who is now at The NYU Wagner School,” said Cook.

Cook also serves as a Research Fellow in GW’s Institute for Public Policy. Since coming to GW, Cook’s research focuses on reducing and even eliminating bias in quasi-experiments. Additionally, he supervises Ph.D. students on research projects at the Trachtenberg school. 

Nathan, the newest member of the Trachtenberg School faculty, earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University. He researches in the areas of labor economics, health economics and the economics of education with an overarching emphasis on program impact evaluation. 

Cook and Nathan have joined an array of scholars at the Trachtenberg School who are passionate and eager, bringing their real-world experience and knowledge into the classroom. Cook is interested in social science research methodology, program evaluation, school reform and contextual factors that influence adolescent development, particularly for urban minorities. Cook recently returned to campus after completing a three-month research and speaking engagement tour of Europe and Central Asia. 

Nathan is an economist with primary research experience in education and health, but also has interests in a variety of applied microeconomic and econometric topics. His current research is looking at the discrimination patterns in schools which indicates a need to look deeper than just desegregating schools. 

“Segregation/discrimination patterns happen even with a diverse school,” said Nathan. “So just throwing people together may not foster interactions and positive peer effects.”  

-- Written by Chante Mayers-Barbot, MPP '20

In November 2018, more than 5,000 professionals in grant management and related fields were invited by the George Washington University's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration to take their 3rd annual survey of government grants management. The survey was designed by Trachtenberg School professor Kathryn Newcomer and professorial lecturer Katherine Dawes , REI Systems and the National Grants Management Association. Four hundred forty people who are grant makers, grant recipients and a combination of the two completed the survey.

In February 2019, more than 200 professionals in grant management attended or watched a livestream of the presentation of this year's survey results. During that presentation, a panel of experts discussed the results and addressed questions from the audience. Both Government Executive and i360gov.com highlighted the conversation during the breakfast forum and the overall survey results.

Key takeaways from the panel discussion included:

  • Grant managers spend more time monitoring compliance than any other activity and this increased in 2018. Panelist Jennifer Colton, Director of the Maryland Governor's Office of Grants, notes that while grants managers appreciate government-wide grants frameworks such as the Uniform Grants Guidance, they inevitably compel grants managers to spend increased time ensuring compliance to the regulations and new information. Panelist Ryan Smith, National Technical Assistance Coordinator at the Economic Development Administration, said that the pre-award process could be streamlined if there were a single system or website that holds all the data needed to check against award documents.
  • 43% of federal respondents can’t measure performance or don’t know if performance improved in 2018 (while 55% of state, local & NGO respondents say performance did improve).
  • Grant managers want data sharing and automation of federal-state interactions, more than any other priority. The interest in information sharing between federal and state increased between this year and last year, though the intention and method, and responsibility for such coordination are unclear.
  • Grant managers aren’t happy with access to technology and costs of software needed to report to the fed government. The most dissatisfaction found in this year’s survey was with the ability of grantees and sub-grantees to cover the costs of the software needed to report into federal grant making agencies. This might be easier and more affordable for grant recipients if coordination across federal agencies were stronger.
  • Grants directives are well-received, though not all are well-understood, and they may not solve the problems that concern grant managers. Survey respondents rated OMB’s Uniform Grants Guidance most positively amongst all federal grants guidance. 

The Trachtenberg School and REI Systems have been hosting the Grants Management Breakfast Forum for more than three years. During each breakfast forum, professionals from government (federal, state, and local) as well as non-government organizations gather to share their perspective and learn from experts in the field. The GMB Forum brings together professionals from academia, government and industry to discuss challenges, strategies and keys to success in grants management. This Forum is intended particularly to strengthen the community of grant-makers. At each event, a government speaker or panel describes their grants management practices, results, and lessons-learned. Audience members engage with the speaker and each other, gathering ideas for ways to address current challenges within their agency and forming networks to help them solve problems in the future as well. Each GMB Forum is free and open to anyone interested to attend.

Trachtenberg School Professor and urban policy scholar Leah Brooks is the director of GW’s Center for Washington Area Studies. The Center studies the Washington area – the city, suburbs and everywhere in between – to produce research that makes better policy.

In October and November, the Center co-sponsored and wrote policy briefs for two research events.

Just after the announcement of Arlington, VA as one of Amazon’s HQ2 sites, the Center for Washington Area Studies co-hosted “Tax Incentives: Strategies for Successful Economic Development” with the Pew Charitable Trusts. The event featured a policy brief by Professor Brooks and Caitlyn Valadez, MPA ’20, and a including Ryan Touhill, MPA ’08, who currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership; Lori Metcalf, PhD ’12, a fiscal analyst in the D.C. Office of Revenue Analysis; and Donny James from Prince George’s County Chief Real Estate Office, Revenue Authority. WAMU, the local NPR station in the region, wrote about the Center’s work in “D.C. Gives Tech Companies Millions of Dollars in Tax Breaks. Are They Worth It?

Earlier in the fall, the Center for Washington Area Studies worked with Prologue DC and the Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies hosted the launch of Prologue DC’s Mapping Segregation website.  The website has narrative histories of racial covenants and deed restrictions in the capital.  To put this work in context, Brooks and Valadez wrote a policy brief detailing the location of African-Americans in the DC area from 1910 to the present. The Center also hosted a panel discussion including Trachtenberg School Professor Gregory Squires and moderated by WAMU’s Sasha Ann Simons.  Local media including DC Line and Greater Greater Washington covered the event.

“We convene events and produce research to provide policy insight for all the neighborhoods and communities of the greater DC area,” said Professor Brooks. “By using data analytics and compelling data visualizations, combined with good policy analysis, we aim to expand the frontier of urban research. We create and interpret policy-relevant research focusing on real estate, the built environment, local government and transportation.”

Learn more about the Center for Washington Area Studies.

According to the 2020 (released in March 2019) U.S. News and World Report rankings of graduate programs, GW's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration is tied for 14th overall among 285 schools considered this year.U.S. News and World Report Best Grad Schools Rankings Logo

Additionally, the Trachtenberg School was ranked by peers in eight of 12 specialty areas, up from five last year. To be ranked in specialty areas, peers at other schools must list a program as an academic thought leader in that field.

“We are honored that our peers at other public affairs schools consider us among the best in so many of the specialty areas,” said Dr. Kathryn Newcomer, director of the Trachtenberg School. “Our peers decided we are among the top ten schools nationwide in both public management and leadership and public policy analysis. GW’s reputation in the area of international global policy resulted in another top ten ranking in that field.”

The Trachtenberg School’s specialty area rankings highlight the many areas of expertise among the faculty. The school is 8th in international global policy, 9th in public management and leadership, 10th in public policy analysis, 11th in public finance and budgeting, 12th in health policy, tied for 14th in homeland security and emergency management, 20th in nonprofit management and 20th in social policy.

“I selected GW partly because of its high rankings in U.S. News and World Report,” said Briana Taylor, MPP ’20. “You want to go to a school with a good ranking to have better opportunities post school. Once I got on campus and got to know the faculty and other students, it became clear to me how much care and attention is paid to the school beyond the ranking. It really does feel like a top-rate experience to be a student here.” 

The George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration has been honored to convene experts, academics, practitioners and public servants for discussions on the state of public policy, public administration and public service. Recent examples include:

  • Celebrating 25 Years of Executive Order 12866: Reflecting on its Longevity and Looking to the Future
    The forum, hosted by the Trachtenberg School’s George Washington Regulatory Studies Center, the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis and the American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, featured four past administrators of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) from the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. The forum ended with a look at OIRA’s future and featured Neomi Rao, the current OIRA Administrator.
  • 25th Anniversary of the IBM Center for the Business of Government
    The Trachtenberg School partnered with IBM’s Center for the Business of Government to look back at 25 years of research related to the role of data, management and security in government. Almost 200 experts and practitioners gathered at GW to discuss past successes and future goals for more effective government.
  • Public Administration Review Symposium on Behavioral Approaches to Bureaucratic Red Tape and Administrative Burde
    The Trachtenberg School, GW Regulatory Studies Center and Rutgers University Center for Experimental and Behavioral Public Administration sponsored a symposium on behavioral public administration. The symposium was convened by Trachtenberg School professors Chris Carrigan and Sanjay Pandey, along with Gregg Van Ryzin of Rutgers University. Attracting more than 80 academics and practitioners from 12 different countries and nearly two dozen different U.S. states, participants presented papers applying behavioral insights to core themes in public administration scholarship such as bureaucratic red tape, administrative burden and regulation. Papers presented at the symposium are undergoing the normal peer review process at the Public Administration Review and are expected to be published in 2019.
  • Research Seminars
    The Trachtenberg School research seminar series gathers PhD students and faculty in the Trachtenberg School community for informal conversations about research, often highlighting the featured researcher’s work in progress. The goal is to learn something new and exchange thoughts with the speaker. This fall, the seminars included Norma Riccucci from Rutgers University, Leisha DeHart-Davis from the University of North Carolina and Daniel Smith from the University of Delaware.
  • Urban Econ Day
    Since 2014, Trachtenberg School Professor Leah Brooks has organized and hosted a day-long conference at GW to be “a casual place for serious research by D.C.-area urban economists.” Participants include faculty at D.C. institutions and researchers from the World Bank, Federal Reserve, government agencies and think tanks.
  • Future of Regulation Panel Discussions
    The GW Regulatory Studies Center, Deloitte Center for Government Insights, and the Trachtenberg School hosted almost 100 people on campus to discuss new innovations in regulatory practice with thought leaders in academia, federal agencies and cutting-edge industries. The day included workshop demos of state-of-the-art RegTech tools that provide deep insights and analysis of regulations.
  • GW’s Center for Washington Area Studies Panel “What does E-commerce Mean for Cities?”
    Professor Leah Brooks, co-director of GW’s Center for Washington Area Studies, organized panelists from the D.C. Office of Planning, a local Business Improvement District, a developer and a builder to discuss how cities will respond to the changes wrought on urban areas by the internet.
  • Host Institution: Society for Benefit Cost Analysis annual conferences
    The Trachtenberg School and itsGW Regulatory Studies Center proudly host the practitioners, academics and others working to improve the theory and application of the tools of benefit-cost analysis.
  • “A 10 Year Reflection on the Williams Administration's Development Legacy”
    GW’s Center for Washington Area Studies and the Trachtenberg School hosted a conversation with former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, a developer and a representative of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The conversation was moderated by local news expert and author, Tom Sherwood, and focused on the successes and failures of the participants’ vision for a growing an inclusive city at the turn of the millennium.
  • Public Performance and Management Review Research Conference:  "Public Administration, Public Policy and Nonprofit Studies: Are We All Touching the Same Camel?"
    Trachtenberg School professors Jasmine McGinnis Johnson and Sanjay Pandey hosted the school’s first conference for research at the intersection of nonprofit studies, public administration and public policy. Noted public and nonprofit management scholars from across the U.S. presented research at the conference.The conference featured an Editors’ panel with editors from leading public policy and public administration journals including Public Administration Review, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, American Review of Public Administration, and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Following the conference, the professors are guest-editing a special issue of the Public Performance and Management Review that features research presented at the conference.
  • Washington Evaluators meetings
    Throughout each school year, members of the Washington Evaluators – academics, practitioners and experts – come to GW for formal and informal gatherings to learn more about effective evaluation techniques and tools. Recently, the Trachtenberg School hosted a session to discuss the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Evidence Based Policy. Nick Hart, PhD ’16, was the Commission’s Policy Director and chief architect of the report.

The Trachtenberg School’s Research Seminar Series for spring 2019 is open to PhD students and faculty.

  • Each presentation will be held in MPA building conference room 601Z.
  • All are on Wednesdays, except Dr. Travis St. Clair’s, which is on a Monday.
  • Two presentations are only a week apart (3/20 & 3/27) due to spring breaks and the travel schedules of the presenters.

Monday, January 28, 12-1pm

Dr. Travis St. Clair, NYU Wagner 

The literature on accounting quality has long held that high quality accounting information reduces information asymmetries between borrowers and lenders, however prior work suggests that there may be substantial heterogeneity in the effects. Dr. St. Clair explores this question further in the context of municipal borrowers. In 1999, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) introduced a new reporting model for state and local governments, requiring governments for the first time to report on a government-wide full accrual basis. Dr. St. Clair exploits the staggered phase-in of the new reporting model to examine its impact on the cost and use of municipal debt. While reporting on a full-accrual basis appears to have had a slightly beneficial effect for the average government borrower regression discontinuity results show that for larger governments, the use of debt actually decreased while the cost of debt rose. To explain these results, Dr. St. Clair draws on findings from the credit ratings literature.  

Wednesday, March 20, 12-1pm

Dr. Ingrid Gould Ellen, NYU Wagner 

Gentrification (details TBD) 


Wednesday, March 27, 12-1pm

Dr. Angela Eikenberry, U. Nebraska, Omaha School of PA 

New Research on Giving Circles in the U.S. 

Giving circles have been described as a “do it yourself” philanthropic vehicle, in which members of all ages, levels of wealth, and varying backgrounds, pool donations and decide together where these are granted. As a tool to seemingly democratize, expand, and diversify philanthropy, giving circles are among the most popular strategies for promoting giving today. While the field has grown considerably, a decade has passed since the last systematic research on U.S. giving circles. Dr. Eikenberry’s new research gathers data through multiple methods, including surveys with giving circle leaders and members, to examine the landscape of giving circles in the U.S. and their impact on philanthropy. 


Wednesday, April 10, 12-1pm

Dr. Anil Nathan 



Wednesday, April 24, 12-1pm 

Dr. Omari Swinton, Howard U. 

Dr. Swinton examines the value added of attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities versus non-Historically Black Colleges and Universities 

(HBCUs). Many studies have tried to estimate the marginal effect of attending HBCUs and the results have been mixed. Generally, it is seen as irrational for a student to choose a HBCU over most other institutions. Despite this they account for producing a large share of Black baccalaureate degrees. For the majority of students that attend HBCUs, this education provides them with an opportunity and upward mobility. Dr. Swinton’s research will examine the importance of HBCUs in increasing educational attainment for students in STEM related disciplines. Dr. Swinton uses a new approach that builds on the work of Caroline Hoxby, which requires building better choice sets and a matched data set from the College Board and National Student Clearinghouses (NSC). 

What’s nonpartisan, nonprofit, Congressionally chartered and connected to 12 current Trachtenberg School professors? The National Academy of Public Administration, which has spent more than 50 years being an independent, nonprofit and non-partisan organization established to assist government leaders in building more effective, efficient, accountable and transparent organizations.

In order to fulfill their mission, NAPA adds a yearly class of Fellows to their current list of more than 850 Fellows. Being named a NAPA Fellow is both an honor and a responsibility. This year, Trachtenberg School professor David Brunori was elected a NAPA Fellow.

“David is a nationally recognized expert on state and local taxes, and his expertise will expand NAPA’s local government store of knowledge,” said Kathy Newcomer, director of the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. “Also, he is a very supportive and beloved instructor and mentor to our students.”

“It’s humbling to be a NAPA Fellow because I am in the company of national policy leaders including agency secretaries, members of Congress and flag officers and the foremost scholars in the field,” said Brunori.

The Academy elects new Fellows each year who demonstrate significant administrative experience, substantive scholarly contributions to public administration or other significant experience in the field, adherence to the highest ethical standards and a willingness and ability to participate in and contribute to the work of the organization.

Brunori’s experience working for a variety of organizations throughout his career, and his emphasis on state and local governments, contributed to his selection.

Some of the career hats Brunori wears include journalist, author, educator and lawyer who specializes in tax and government issues. He currently has two jobs. Brunori is a partner at Quarles & Brady where he specializes in state and local taxation and he is a Research Professor at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration where he teaches courses in state and local public finance, fiscal federalism and state politics and policy.  He also teaches state and local tax law at the George Washington University Law School.

He previously served as the Deputy Publisher at Tax Analysts and as contributing editor to State Tax Notes magazine. He has published numerous books and articles on state and local tax policy. And, he served as an appellate trial attorney with the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice and practiced with a Washington, D.C. law firm.

“I have had a varied career working for tremendous organizations,” Brunori said. “But teaching at the Trachtenberg School has been the best thing I have ever done. The school has given me the opportunity to teach students who will be the leaders of the next generation.”

Now that he’s adding NAPA Fellow to his resume, Brunori hopes to help NAPA increase their reach by working more locally.

“My goal as a NAPA Fellow is to help the organization expand its influence in the state and local government field,” he said. “NAPA has traditionally been focused on the federal government. I hope to work with the growing number of fellows working in and studying state and local government. I am passionate about my field. And I hope to bring that passion to NAPA.”

GW Conference on Behavioral Approaches at the Trachtenberg School on May 23 and 24, 2018

The Public Administration Review (PAR) symposium on behavioral public administration focused on behavioral public administration particularly as it contributes to a deeper understanding of the creation and consequences of bureaucratic red tape, administrative burden, and government regulations.

A reception in the evening of May 23 and day-long conference on May 24, both hosted by George Washington University, will bring together the prospective authors and editors as well as practitioners intimately familiar with behavioral issues as they connect to public administration. Event sponsors include the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, Rutgers University Center for Experimental and Behavioral Public Administration, and GW Regulatory Studies Center. 


Symposium Editors:
Christopher Carrigan
George Washington University
E-mail: [email protected]

Sanjay K. Pandey
George Washington University
E-mail: [email protected]

Gregg G. Van Ryzin
Rutgers University, Newark
E-mail: [email protected]

Conference Program