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The Governance Innovation Clinic is a public policy clinic that supports the strengthening of democratic institutions by using legal and technological innovations to transform and improve how we govern. In this clinic, students work with governments and nonprofits on designing solutions to complex public problems. The goals of the clinic are three-fold: to help institutions innovate and become more effective using both big data and collective intelligence; to promote the public’s right to participate in governing in ways that access people’s talents, creativity, and interests; and to empower students to become 21st century public leaders and problem solvers armed with a diverse and powerful toolkit for social change.


Project: Smarter Crowdsourcing | Anti-Corruption

Client: The Inter-American Development Bank

Issue: Corruption

Student Team: Roberta Allport, Jesse Marks, Joel Ramirez, Erik Woodward

Term: Spring '17

The Problem: The government of Mexico lacks access to the highly disperse global know how about innovative and practical strategies for overcoming corruption-related challenges

Project Description: Mexico has recently enacted a groundbreaking series of anti-corruption legal reforms. However, both civil society and government institutions face the challenge of translating these ambitious principles into concrete practices. To enable “expert sourcing” of practical and innovative strategies to combat corruption, the Clinic worked with dozens of subject-matter experts to translate the larger issue of corruption in Mexico into six high priority problems and to brief those problems and define their root causes. Clearly defining the problem helps more people to identify solutions. The project enabled the subsequent convening of six online roundtables with global experts.

Project: Human-Centered Design: The Human side of Tablets

Client: Connecticut Department of Corrections

Issue: Tablet-based prisoner education

Student Team: Patricia Austria, Cecilia Chang, Kaitlin Koga

Term: Spring '17

The Problem: In order to improve prisoner outcomes and reduce recidivism the Connecticut DOC needs to: 1) Strengthen the efficacy of its educational and training programs despite resource limitations 2) Define metrics of success in order to assess and continually improve programs

Project Description: The project was focused on informing the design and implementation of the Connecticut Department of Corrections’ proposed program to introduce tablets in their facilities. The DOC’s program aimed to reduce recidivism among inmates by using tablets to improve vocational training, entertainment and communication. The Clinic project involved research to study global best practices as well as multiple interviews with inmates and officials to make human-centered design recommendations which were within the the capabilities of the DOC.

Project: Expanding the NPC Data Labs model to the United States

Client: National Philanthropy Capital

Issue: Administrative Date-based Program evaluation

Student Team: Linjia Li, Reeva Mishra, Mark Rosenberg

Term: Spring '17

The Problem: Non-profits and NGOs suffer from a two-pronged problem: 1) The absence of a secure, responsible way to access administrative data and 2) the lack of analytical capacity to perform program evaluation using that data to generate insights which can improve service delivery.

Project Description: The project explored opportunities to bring the NPC’s Data Labs model to the United States and understand the pre-conditions and partnerships necessary to enable it.  The NPC Data Lab Model allows government and non-profit programs throughout the United Kingdom to conduct high-quality, low-cost evaluations using administrative data to determine how effective these programs are. These evaluations can inform more evidence-based resource allocation and will offer insights for how other programs can improve their efficacy.

Additional Resources: Project website:

Beth Noveck and Anirudh Dinesh, "The Policy Labs We Urgently Need", Governing, December 2017

Project: “Crowdlaw”: Online Public Participation in Lawmaking

Client: Podemos/Madrid City Council

Issue: Participatory/crowdsourced lawmaking; citizen engagement

Student Team: Gabriella Capone, Cansu Birce Gokalp, Aprille Knox

Term: Spring '17

The Problem: The intellectual elite does not believe that the public can partake in its own self-governance beyond voting periodically for representatives. This alienation of the public from government, as well as corruption and economic instability, are contributors to historically low levels of citizen trust in government.

Project Description: Podemos has drafted a citizen engagement law for Madrid to reconnect with their constituents, which includes crowdsourcing citizen opinion for improved law- and policy-making. The team’s project was to support the development and improvement of the law. So, the team set out to understand the space of crowdsourced law and policy-making, which included surveying 25 instructive cases from around the world. The team analyzed the case studies using a framework of the legislative process, identifying junctures where the public could contribute to lawmaking, as well as reviewing the participation opportunities and goals of the 25 cases. The findings were packaged as recommendations for those designing impactful public engagement systems in lawmaking; the recommendations were meant for Podemos as well as system designers more generally.

Project Website:

Additional Resources: "Clinic explores citizen participation in lawmaking at parliamentary conference", Yale Law School Blog, April 2017 available online at

Project: Data-Driven Analysis of Discrimination in Prosecution and Sentencing

Client: Legal Aid Society

Issue: Data-Driven Practices

Student Team: Aubrey Jones, Ben Singer

Term: Spring '17

Project Description: The goal of the project is to develop an initial research question that will be helpful to the Legal Aid Society’s practice or its policy advocacy.

  • On the policy advocacy side, the goal of the proposed project is to analyze the effect of open file discovery on the disposition of LAS cases and on the amount of time the cases are in court.

  • On the practice side, the goal of the proposed project is to evaluate the quality and accessibility of various alternative-to-incarceration programs to help LAS attorneys better advise their clients.

Project: Ethics of N of 1 Clinical Trials

Client: Mt. Sinai Medial Center

Issue: Increasing privacy and responsible data governance in biomedical research

Student Team: Elizabeth Eldridge, Melis Emre, Alda Yuan

Term: Spring '17

Project Description: The continued growth of technology is expanding our capacity to pursue transformative biomedical research through innovative methods of data-capture and data-sharing. A clear illustration of the “Open Science” movement, n-of-1 trials provide a participatory research model in which both researcher and patient benefit, accelerating the pathway to personalized medicine. In an effort to contribute to the “Open Science” movement, the goal of the GovLab team on Responsible Biomedical Data Governance is to develop a “legal by design” interactive platform to help clinicians design ICH-compliant n-of-1 trials utilizing the data-sharing capacity of the latest technological advances.

Project: Training Government Officials on Appropriate Use of Randomized Controlled Trials

Client: J-PAL

Issue: Policymaking; Evidence-informed Decision-making

Student Team: Jeremy Aron-Dine, Reeva Mishra

The Problem: Social scientists have used experiments to answer a number of questions, from what the most effective strategies are to increase voter turnout to what the impact of Medicaid is on health and financial outcomes. However, a lot of policy is still based on trial and error rather than evidence.

Project Description: Policy-makers lack access to timely and relevant empirical results to inform policy decision making. This leads to an over-reliance on observation in lieu of evidence-based strategies for testing the effectiveness of social programs.

We are developing an interactive tool that will help policymakers quantify the impact of their programs through randomized control trials. The tool will walk government personnel through what an RCT is, why to conduct one and how to implement it. It will also connect them to existing resources on the topic.

Project: Lawyer as Innovator: Improving the Efficiency of Government General Counsel

Client: Brookings Institute

Issue: Open Data for Government Lawyers

Student Team: Jason Berkenfeld, Ariel Dobkin, Misha Guttentag, Patrick Lauppe

Term: Fall '16

The Problem: Offices of Government Counsel often have outdated processes, software, and management tools. This makes it more difficult for OGCs to serve the mission of their agencies effectively and efficiently.

Project Description:  The team is working with General Counsels across four cabinet departments and conducting a wide range of interviews to the end of making specific recommendations focused on helping the government lawyer become a partner in the process of agency modernization and innovation. The recommendations will be published in a Whitepaper and accompanied by a Hackathon designed to transform some of the recommendations into practical prototypes for new ways of working.

Project: Developing a Dispute Resolution Process for Contributing Data to Clinical Trials

Client: Sage Bionetworks

Student Team: Lindsay Brewer, Joaquin Gonzalez, Alda Yuan

Term: Fall '16

The Problem: Sage Bionetworks designed the e-consent mechanisms for processes that allow users to openly share anonymized participant data. These new mechanisms are designed to ensure that participants and researchers understood their mutual responsibilities and obligations. What's missing, however, is a dispute resolution process and platform so that "those who make the gift of data have a voice in deciding when data use has gone awry. Multiple kinds of potential disputes exist; for example, criminal use of data, allegations of breach of the contract of data sharing, and unethical activity, and each has different kinds of resolution mechanisms available."

Project Description: The ubiquity of mobile phones--and their many sensors for collecting data-- offers a new way for biomedical researchers to recruit patients to participate in clinical trials quickly and easily. Using either Apple or Android platforms, participants consent to both make their data available to a clinician and to have their anonymized data published for others researchers who may be able to employ it in novel studies. This has the potential to accelerate research and cures dramatically.

In order to promote participant trust and establish ethical procedures in an emerging field, we are designing a flexible dispute resolution process so that those who make the gift of data have a voice in controlling their data. By looking at dispute resolution systems across disciplines and communities, we can design a system that balances the rights of data donors with the unique advantages of open health data.

Project: Data-Driven Criminal Justice Reform

Client: Lafayette Parish Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and Codington County, SD

Issue: Open Data for Criminal Justice

Student Team: Jay Locke, Jesse Marks, Alice Xiang

Term: Fall '16

The Problem: In many U.S. localities, law enforcement does not have available mental health information which can be acted on to reduce the rate and recurrence of incarceration of those with mental health needs. Although access to mental health data could reduce incarceration among the mentally ill, the problem is that jurisdictions do not know how to ethically and responsibly share data to this end.

Project Description: We have partnered with two jurisdictions in order to 1) provide research and analysis to support the successful design and implementation of new data sharing programs; and 2) extract learnings, which if incorporated into an online decision support tool, could help other communities be able to share data responsibly

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