Policy Research Shop Gears Up For Busy Winter Term

Offered in the fall term, Public Policy 45: Introduction to Public Policy Research, taught by Professor Ron Shaiko, Associate Director of the Rockefeller Center, and Professor Ben Cole, a Rockefeller Center post-doctoral fellow and co-manager of the Policy Research Shop (PRS), included a record number of 27 students and produced a record-breaking nine PRS projects that will be completed in the winter term in the PRS.   

The nine projects are substantively diverse and address policy questions and issues raised by Vermont and New Hampshire legislators.  Two PRS projects focus on Vermont; the first addresses the possibility of creating an Office of Ombudsman for the State of Vermont.  Currently five states have such offices, while each of the fifty states has a federally mandated Long-Term Care ombudsman created by 1975 amendments to the Older Americans Act.  The second Vermont PRS project addresses river management in Vermont in the wake of the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene this past summer.  Seven PRS projects will focus on policy issues in New Hampshire. These projects include: voter identification requirements for registered voters in the state, the role of the state in mandating or sanctioning concussion prevention guidelines for K-12 athletic programs, alternative methods for modifying cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in the state retirement system, an analysis of state fees to determine whether such fees are statutorily mandated by the legislature or created by executive actions, the limits and possibilities of the state opting out of the federal Medicaid program, the impacts of implementing performance-based budgeting in the Department of Public Safety, and an analysis of the telephone referral system currently utilized by the state wide Legal Aid Referral Center.           


In addition to these projects, PRS veterans Marissa Greco '12, Rick D'Amato '13, and Michael Sanchez '13 completed a PRS project for the Grafton County, NH Board of Commissioners and testified before the Commission on November 1, 2011. The policy brief,

"Grafton County Correctional Facility: An Analysis of Options for the Old Grafton County Jail (PDF),"

(PRS Policy Brief 1112-01), provides the commissioners with a variety of options for the now closed Grafton County Correctional Facility. 


During the winter term, several new PRS projects will be introduced to students in Public Policy 48: Policy Analysis and Local Governance, taught by Professor Andrew Samwick, director of the Rockefeller Center, and by Professor Margaret Post, a Rockefeller Center post-doctoral fellow and co-manager of the PRS.  In addition to these PBPL 48 projects, several new PRS projects will be undertaken by students working in the PRS during the winter and spring terms who have completed one of the nine projects that were initiated in PBPL 45 in the fall term.   
For the 2011-2012 academic year, the PRS seeks to complete at least 17 projects and engage at least 40 students in the PRS enterprise.  Professors Samwick, Shaiko, Cole, and Post as well as PRS graduate fellow Kemi Adedokun serve as mentors on the PRS projects throughout the year.  The PRS is currently supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE).