Part of my day job is to determine how to measure whether a good idea- a process improvement- is actually good once implemented. And in the public sector these days “good” means “cheaper.” (Want a dissertation topic in public administration? Cost Accounting standards and mechanisms in state and local government. Or Accurately Accounting for Indirect and Overhead Costs in State Government.)
So I was pleased to see references by both The Atlantic and by the Local Government Commission (LGC) to a recent study by the American Society of Landscape Architects in partnership with several environmental organizations called “Banking on Green: How Green Infrastructure Saves Municipalities Money and Provides Economic Benefits Community-wide” quantifying the economic benefits of investments in green infrastructures. The study found that despite steep up-front costs, about 75 percent of the projects saved money in either or both the near and longer term.
What I found interesting were the 25 percent that didn’t – and why not. One suggestion from the LGC was that public works officials, distrustful of new and unproven ideas, required excessive redundancy. Well, sure. The consequences, for both the decision maker and the community, of a failed (and partial success is a fail) public works project is disastrous. But can the risks be shifted? Or at least mitigated? I need to think on this.