It is not uncommon to see SIPA faculty, students, and alumni in the news.  Below are a few recent examples.

Helping TANF Help Children

Professor Swati Desai has been appointed as a senior advisor to the Urban Institute, on a project to improve state performance measures for TANF – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

TANF is a federal program, providing cash assistance to indigent families with dependent children. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, providing block grants to states, which administer their individual programs.

Desai, an expert in performance management, will spend much of 2011 advising the Urban Institute in choosing and analyzing the data for states that have implemented state-level TANF performance measurement systems that includes both outcome and process indicators and have been identified as having promising practices.

“As planning for TANF reauthorization approaches, there is a focus on improving the program’s accountability structure,” said Desai. “The program was created to help needy families reach self-sufficiency by providing cash assistance, work opportunities, and other services. But under the current accountability structure, it is difficult to know whether the program is actually meeting this goal.  The Urban Institute study will help inform the policy debate by conducting in-depth case studies of a few states.”

Desai is an associate professor at SIPA, teaching public and nonprofit management, and performance management. She previously served in a variety of positions with the City of New York’s Human Resources Administration, most recently as Executive Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Evaluation and Research, which provides cash assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid to residents.


Stephen Sestanovich writes “America’s Facile, Self-Congratulatory Response to Wikileaks,” in The New Republic.

Here is short excerpt from the article:

The case for confidentiality in diplomatic communications doesn’t make exceptions. Most negotiations can’t be successful if every move—every embarrassing concession in which you compromise a point today that you declared sacrosanct yesterday—is made in public. By and large, because the United States is so powerful, we actually gain the most from confidentiality. Secrecy can shield the concessions that others make to us. Without it, they are more stubborn, more fearful, less able to act.

On the Front Lines of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

On December 18, Congress voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Veteran and SIPA alumnus Justin Johnson (MIA ’10) writes in the NY Daily News:

“Our battalion faced fierce combat as the 1,000 or so Marines conducted stability and security operations in a city of over 300,000. The bonds we formed in combat inspire and drive me to this day.

“The difficulty of this combat tour … forced me to confront my own mortality and make sense of what I experienced and what it meant for my life. I made the incredibly difficult decision to come out to my family and to leave active duty when my period of required service expired in June of 2005. I wanted to stay in the Marines, but did not want to serve in an environment where my entire life and career could be upended because of who I am – regardless of my performance in the position.” More