By Rebecca Mowbray
President & CEO
Samuel Zemurray Chair in Research Leadership
Never underestimate the importance of a single idea.
Each public policy report we issue, and its potential to improve local government, starts with a notion or a hunch that government should be performing better in some specific way.
Here at the Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR), we watch for these indications, gathering ideas through our local government monitoring program. We also talk with community leaders and policymakers about the ways government can and should achieve more effective outcomes for the public. And we solicit comments and feedback from citizens who keep us grounded and aware of quality-of-life issues that require problem-solving. We capture all this as input to inform potential topics for our research reports and events.
BGR is now developing a new work plan for the next 18 months and planning new events for 2022. We are asking for your ideas on public policy issues important to our community that BGR should consider.
Ideas for BGR Research Reports
BGR looks for research topics where our recommendations can appreciably improve the efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency of government in the New Orleans area. Our online library offers more than 200 reports published since 1996.
We work in several different areas including:
- General Administration and Government Structure. BGR examines a variety of general government topics in the three main parishes we cover – Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany – such as civil service systems and governmental ethics.
- Infrastructure. BGR explores funding approaches to, and management of, local streets, water and sewer systems, and flood control and stormwater management.
- Government Finance. We dig into budgets and audits, property assessments, taxes, pensions and contracting, among other topics.
- Essential Services and Core Systems. BGR studies services and systems that every community must have to provide quality education, public safety, public transportation and recreation for citizens.
- Public Involvement in the Private Sector. We recognize the many ways in which government directly influences actions by residents, businesses and private organizations in furtherance of public policy goals and objectives. For example, BGR has reported on economic development and housing programs, public investments in tourism, conventions and sports, the evolution of planning and zoning laws, and tax exemptions.
As you might suspect, we do not have capacity to address all the good ideas we receive. We prioritize projects by evaluating and ranking each one based on objective criteria, including time sensitivity, the necessity for BGR’s work to inform the public dialogue, and the potential for improved outcomes that will benefit the residents and businesses in the region. Our board of directors ultimately approves the research work plan.
Topics for BGR Events
BGR strongly believes that citizens should have opportunities to hear from, connect with and ask questions of the elected officials and policymakers who shape local public policy.
Since 1988, BGR has hosted Breakfast Briefings on timely policy issues. While the pandemic prevented us from holding in-person events during the past two years, we have continued the series through Zoom webinars and extended their reach in the community. We also record the events and provide them free to the public through BGR’s YouTube channel.
BGR presented four virtual Breakfast Briefings in 2021:
- In March, we hosted a panel of St. Tammany leaders, including Parish President Mike Cooper, discussing quality of life and economic development in the parish.
- In August, we welcomed Rep. Troy Carter, Louisiana’s newest congressman, to share his legislative priorities.
- Then in October, BGR presented experts on proposed state constitutional amendments to change sales and income tax laws.
- Gov. John Bel Edwards closed the 2021 series in December, discussing opportunities presented to Louisiana by the recent infusion of federal relief funds and his priorities for 2022.
We express our gratitude to IBERIABANK | First Horizon for its sponsorship of our Breakfast Briefing Series.
The Best Time to Submit Your Ideas Is … Now
Please submit your ideas for future BGR reports or events as soon as you can. We value your input and perspective, and hope you will weigh in.
This article is part of BGR’s Perspectives on Public Policy series, which features insights from BGR team members about the organization and its work in the metropolitan New Orleans area.