As we embark on 2022, we, at the Analyst’s Office, took a moment to reflect on the past year. From new team members to exceeding our project completion target by 60 percent—we were busy in 2021.
The Analyst’s Office kicked off 2021 by welcoming two new team members, Ramin Naderi and Laila Elimam, who joined our team of analysts, and by celebrating Amber Weed’s promotion to Chief of Staff and Policy Director. Throughout the course of 2021, we also hosted a cohort of hardworking interns from institutions in Houston: Ragad Nawwab (Rice University), Lauren Buchanan (Rice University), and Mike Negreros (University of Houston).
ANALYSES IN 2021
From January to December 2021, our team produced 24 analyses in health policy, environmental stewardship, and various other policy issues related to government, law, and budget. Some of the highlights include:
With the distribution of the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccines kicking off in December 2020, the Analyst’s Office began producing a monthly report in January 2021 on the status of the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Harris County. These monthly reports chronicle the evolution of federal, state, and local policies in vaccine distribution, including the phased release of the vaccine to the public, and highlight issues in distribution, including disparities in vaccination rates within communities across Harris County. The January 2022 memo can be read here, and the data can be explored interactively on our blog here.
The Analyst’s Office continued our work in healthcare through publishing a memo in March 2021 analyzing public health coordination systems that could be used as potential models for improving coordination among the County’s health-related entities: Harris County Public Health (HCPH), Harris Health System (HHS), and the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (Harris Center). The memo concluded with four coordinating system models for improving coordination among these entities. An addendum to this memo was published in August, and outlines lessons learned from the four coordinating systems along with strengths and weaknesses of the four models.
In July, we updated a 2020 memo that reports total annual deaths in Harris County and the City of Houston from 2015 through 2020. In 2020, Harris County reported 32,727 deaths, a 22.7% increase from 2019. The updated memo examined total annual death rates from 2010 to 2020. All the data can be explored on our blog here.
The Analyst’s Office published a memo in January 2021 outlining best practices for launching a County-led Climate Action Plan, a strategic document that outlines a collection of measures and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In April, we released the results of a survey of 64 out of 76 County departments on their sustainability policies and practices (check out our blog for an interactive view of this data).
In addition to exploring County-driven environmental initiatives, in December, we released a report exploring regional efforts with our look at the Coastal Texas Study and the Galveston Bay Park Plan, dedicated to addressing the changing threats of tropical cyclones and the resulting storm surge to the Gulf Coast region.
For our work in governance, we kicked off January 2021 with a review of ten jurisdictions with Percent for Art policies. These policies allow jurisdictions to set aside a specific percent of capital funds for public artwork with the intention of making public spaces more appealing, useful, and/or accessible.
In 2021, we also explored:
COUNTYWIDE UPDATES AND SUPPORT
In addition to our ongoing analytical work, the Analyst’s Office continues to support Harris County by providing technical assistance to different departments. In this vein, the Analyst's Office participated in four workgroups launched by the County’s Office of County Administration to support building a more dynamic, vibrant, and resilient community while being inclusive, equitable, and transparent. As a part of these workgroups, the Analyst’s Office led the drafting of a County Open Data Policy to support the development of a central online presence for publicly available County data.
The Analyst's Office also participated in all four of the County’s Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) newly created Budget Results Teams to support the County’s transition to an outcomes-based budgeting process. The Results Teams reviewed and prioritized budget proposals for the new fiscal year from County departments based on cost effectiveness, feasibility, and consistency with Commissioners Court’s priority outcomes.
We look forward to continuing to support County policymakers and the public with our research and analyses in 2022.