Policy Papers


Citizen Participation in Local Government Volunteer Boards and Commissions


Volume 5, Spring 2017

The past two decades have seen an increased interest in engaging citizens in local government administration.

One traditional form of engagement on which we need additional information is appointed public volunteer boards (APVB). This study reviews survey results from 13 Metropolitan Statistical Areas and 17 states to highlight differences across states and describe how local governments use APVB. The survey collected data from 297 local governments and provides information on 1,988 appointed public volunteer boards and 12,031 board members. We find that over 88% of local governments have APVB and 91% of those have more than one board. We also find boards are not representative of their communities in terms of race and gender and that fewer than half of boards receive training support. The result is a fuller understanding of how citizens are engaged through this extremely common mechanism and how their practice might be improved.

Infrastructure Coordination: Engaging Regional Players in Collaborative Utility Repair and Road Reconstruction

Volume 4, Spring 2016

With 130 municipalities in Allegheny County alone, dozens of utility companies, and numerous authorities all operating in the county — and a network of aging infrastructure in constant need of repair — avoiding costly duplication and inefficient investment in construction and reconstruction is a daunting task. The importance of “getting it right” is highlighted by the observation that over $3 billion in infrastructure investments is currently planned between the governments and utilities over the next several years. How can this multitude of governments and public utilities better coordinate construction and digging in Right of Way grounds? This policy brief seeks to answer these questions through the narrative of the efforts of Pittsburgh’s urban core led by the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) to establish a mechanism that allows for coordinated planning and investment.  


Shale Development Impact Fees, and Municipal Finances in Pennsylvania

Volume 3, Winter 2015/2016

Pennsylvania has experienced wide-spread drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations and has become the country’s second largest producer of natural gas, behind only Texas. Although drilling can create jobs and income, it also brings public costs, especially for jurisdictions where drilling occurs. In 2012 the state introduced an Impact Fee on natural gas wells, with revenues to be distributed to local governments to address drilling-related costs. This brief examines how municipal finances have changed over time based on drilling activity or proximity to it.


ECON-CON: A Strategic Approach for Regional Economic Development

Volume 2, Summer 2015

In response to emerging trends in business, government, technology and culture, economic development would most effectively be crafted at the metropolitan regional level. However, a problem exists as many regions, including Western Pennsylvania, lack the organizational infrastructure to pursue an economic development strategy to match the shared issues and interests of the region…

In order to effectively collaborate on regional economic development, the effort must provide institutional stability and approach the appropriate scale. The effort must be large enough to capture the critical mass of shared interests, issues, and capacity, while at the same, collaboration works best where stakeholder interest and relationships are united around a shared sense of community.


Analyzing Commute Patterns in Allegheny County

Volume 1, Winter 2014,2015

This policy brief summarizes information on the location of where people work in Allegheny County and where they live, and suggests that the alsoUrbs (municipalities contiguous to the City of Pittsburgh) be given greater representation in transportation planning. It paints an interesting picture of the movement of individuals from home to work and back again. That picture is a complex mosaic of interconnectedness and interdependence further complicated by varying intensity of interest in particular transportation areas and varying impact on residents.

Center for Metropolitan Studies
3803 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260