The state's only institute dedicated to the study of county government has been established by California State University, Sacramento and the California State Association of Counties.
The California Institute for County Government will study county policy and fiscal issues, and offer training, fellowships and consulting to county governments. Projects will be carried out by researchers within the institute as well as faculty and students from throughout the 23-campus CSU system.
The institute is affiliated with the CSUS Center for California Studies and its offices are on the CSUS campus.
Among its first projects is creating a database of local government financial, economic and demographic information. The database -- funded through a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation -- will be available to researchers and policymakers.
Other areas of focus for the institute will include best practices for county government, local governance structures, and county governments' relationships with state and federal governments.
The institute opened this fall under the direction of Matthew Newman, who previously analyzed local government issues in California's Legislative Analyst's Office. Newman graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
"We're going to find ways that solid research and analysis can help improve local government," Newman says. "This is important because local government is so vital to the quality of life."
The establishment of the institute at CSUS builds upon the University's strong faculty interest in local government issues. For example, Robert Waste, chair of the University's public policy and administration program, is an expert on urban public policy and local government. Waste recently headed the city's campaign finance advisory committee. Professor Robert Wassmer specializes in urban economics and local public finance. He has conducted studies on such issues Proposition 13 and county fiscal stress, and local economic incentives. Professor Ted Lascher is an expert in political behavior and wrote his doctoral dissertation on job satisfaction among local elected officials.
More information about the California Institute for County Government is available by contacting Matthew Newman at (916) 806-7127 or the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-6156. The institute's website is www.cicg.org.
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