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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
About Us
Rockefeller Institute Co-Directors Richard Nathan and Thomas Gais

A Word of Welcome

From Thomas Gais,

Thank you for visiting our website. Our mission at the Rockefeller Institute is not the same as that of many public policy institutes, or “think tanks.” Our job is not to advocate particular policies, but to enhance the capacities of state governments and the federal system to deal effectively with the nation’s domestic challenges. We care about how well states are governed — either on their own, or in concert with federal and local governments. A fundamental strength of American government is the freedom of citizens to turn to multiple governments to respond to new public needs and put innovative measures into effect. To preserve this strength, American states must have the fiscal, administrative and political capacity to carry out these ever more complex responsibilities.

This mission is a large one, so we have focused on a few areas. We have long tracked and analyzed state fiscal conditions, tax policies, fiscal capabilities and spending trends. In nationwide field research studies, we have examined whether and how states have implemented major initiatives — and the institutional strengths and weaknesses revealed by such efforts. We have studied reforms to improve states’ executive leadership and to recruit and maintain a skilled state and local workforce. We have examined state capacity to contract with private agencies for public functions while holding these agencies accountable, and we have investigated the institutional capabilities demanded of states as they attempt to reform health care, integrate the delivery of human services and recover from natural disasters. Although much of the Rockefeller Institute’s work is national, we also serve agencies of New York State government through studies, special projects, books and reports, and frequent public forums.