The mechanics of government – the day-to-day processes, the behind the scenes work – are critical to a well-functioning city, but don’t usually make headlines unless something is wrong. However, one of the key components of a high road city is efficient, democratic government.


Cities can and should explore numerous ways to improve efficiency, support and improve their workforce, engage their citizens and work well with their neighbors. The policy ideas in this section range from voting to encouraging citizen input to sunshine laws, but all promote good governance.


Community Engagement

Community engagement is an essential component of local democracy. Without it, city policies are less effective and municipalities risk alienating their constituents.

Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable procurement is an opportunity for government organizations and private companies to make a lasting impact on the world around them.

Voter Enfranchisement

As access to voting has been under attack across the country, city leaders can take a number of actions to help ensure equitable access to voting.

Behavioral Science

By using behavioral science to craft “nudges” or small tweaks to policies and programs that help increase the chances of a particular outcome, local governments can save money, improve services, and reach constituents in new ways.

Civic Innovation

Innovation professionals in cities do many different things, and each city has its own approach to innovation. 


Advances in smart sensors, data technology, and data analysis offer promising advantages to cities and city leaders who take the time to learn how to best use them and integrate them into the existing infrastructure and culture of their communities. 


Divestment, a strategy pioneered in this country during the antiapartheid movement, is a powerful tool that cities can use to fight climate change and protect their assets.

Human Services

Competition in the funding allocation process and rigorous evaluation of outcomes can help achieve better performance and ensure return on investment. But many cities don’t know where to start. 

Preserving Local Control

Across America, efforts to enact local laws on a range of issues are the focus of a growing trend: they are being preempted by state legislation that undermines local democracy. Cities can and should defend local control.