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March 30, 2010

Efficient, benevolent, and honorable...government?

Yesterday I taught a short version of the "Public Value of Public Programs (PVPP)" workshop for a Public Affairs class at the University of Minnesota. The PVPP workshop content is similar to that of the BEPV workshop, and the objectives are the same: to help people who develop, teach, evaluate, and advocate for publicly funded outreach programs to make a case for that public funding. The difference is that PVPP is not directed at Extension professionals, but at program providers in the government and nonprofit sectors.

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I presented the slide below to introduce the idea that under conditions of market failure, collective action(for example, by the public or nonprofit sector) can improve the outcome for a community.

A student asked whether I was assuming that government or nonprofits would act efficiently and in the best interests of the people. In some developing countries, he noted, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are sometimes inefficient and corrupt. Their action, even in the presence of market failures, can make a community worse off than if the market failures had persisted.

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Indeed, the PVPP program addresses the role of the public and nonprofit sectors when private enterprises ("the market") fail, but is silent on the possibility of government or nonprofit failures. A shortcoming, indeed.

So, yes, to make a strong case for public funding of a program, it is necessary not only to explain how a public or nonprofit organization can in theory address issues that the private sector cannot (market failure), but to provide evidence that your organization will in practice act efficiently, benevolently, and honorably for the public good.

In Extension's case, we can safely assume that our organizations always act efficiently, benevolently and honorably, right? Right?

March 24, 2010

Public value on the range

mt209057a.jpgEarlier this month I gave a short talk on the public value of Extension and outreach programs for the Western Rangelands Partnership. The organization's website, Rangelands West, is source of research and educational resources for rangeland managers, landowners, and residents of western states.

I drafted an example of a public value message for a hypothetical rangeland outreach program. In my example, the target stakeholder is a state resident who is not directly involved in the outreach program--or rangeland management--and who may have little awareness of the business and recreation uses of rangeland. Nevertheless, the resident is concerned about threats to the state's water resources.

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Do you have some experience and/or expertise with outreach programs targeted at rangeland managers? Have you done public value work for such programs? Feel free to critique my example or share your own in the comments.

(Photo credit: Beef Cows and Calves at the Matador Cattle Co's Beaverhead Ranch by Edwin Remsberg USDA/CSREES)


March 16, 2010

Reminder: March train-the-trainer registration open

* To register for the March 2010 "Building Extension's Public Value" train-the-trainer course, go here. The registration fee is $100 per participant. To encourage institutions to send teams of staff to the training, the maximum total registration fee for any institution is $500.

* The training will be conducted online, via UMConnect, and will consist of two, two-hour sessions, with all participants attending both sessions. The training sessions will be Monday, March 29, and Wednesday, March 31, 2010, at 2:00-4:00 Eastern; 1:00-3:00 Central; 12:00-2:00 Mountain; 11:00-1:00 Pacific; 9:00-11:00 Hawaii.

* Prior to the beginning of the sessions, participants will receive an email notifying them of how to participate in the two online sessions and how to download the training materials, including the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide, the Building Extension's Public Value Workbook, and accompanying Powerpointâ„¢ presentation.

* Questions about registration? Contact our help desk at shopext@umn.edu or 800-876-8636.

* Questions about program content and relevance to your work? Contact Laura Kalambokidis at kalam002@umn.edu.

* Other questions? Contact Diane McAfee at dmcafee@umn.edu.