Metropolitan Planning Organizations


MetropolitanPlanning Organizations (MPOs) are agencies created by federal law to provide local elected officials input into the planning and implementation of federal transportation funds. This memo compares five MPOs in Texas with regard to their: representation, decision-making process, and intergovernmental relationships and examines methods for increasing Harris County’s leverage within their local MPO, H-GAC.

  • government

Catalog of Harris County Sustainability Practices


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines sustainability as the creation of long-term sustainable conditions, under which humans and nature can exist. This memo provides a comprehensive catalogue of existing sustainability policies and practices maintained by Harris County departments and provides a starting point for the development of short and long-term sustainability goals and actionable policies.

  • Environment
  • Government

County Health Coordination Memo


There are three county health-related agencies in Harris County: Harris County Public Health, Harris Health System,and the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD. Over the course of the last four decades, there have been multiple efforts to improve coordination across these agencies, many of these efforts continue today. This memo provides an analysis of the collaborative arrangements practiced in health-related agencies in six jurisdictions (Bexar County, Dallas County, Galveston County, Travis County, Los Angeles County, and Miami-Dade County), highlights methods to improve cooperation, and provides a legal analysis of the potential consolidation of Harris County’s health-related agencies. 

  • health
  • government

Analysis of Withdrawing from the Houston-Galveston Area Council


Councils of Government (COGs) are coordinating bodies that seek to address the need for comprehensive, coordinated program planning at the regional level. This memo assesses the potential benefits and disadvantages of Harris County withdrawing from its regional COG, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). This analysis includes a summary of the composition of the governing body and representation, voting practices of the governing body, the general assembly and committees, and the annual membership fee of H-GAC and four other councils of government (COGs) in Texas.

  • government

Percent for Art Comparative Analysis


Jurisdictions participate in capital budgeting to fund long-term fixed assets, like buildings, equipment, and land. Percent for Art 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, or accessible. This memo provides both an overview of best practices for Percent for Art policies and an overview of several cities and counties across the United States with existing Percent for Art policies. 

  • Budget
  • government

County Social Services-Public Safety-County Services Spending Comparison


This analysis compares public spending in the areas of social services, public safety, and county services from FY2010 to FY2018 across five Texas jurisdictions: Bexar County, Dallas County, Harris County, Tarrant County, and Travis County. For most counties, Public Safety was the greatest category of spending. For the eight-year period analyzed, Harris County spent more on Public Safety (44%) than any other category—three times the amount spent on Social Services (13%). An analysis featuring jurisdictions outside of Texas is forthcoming.

  • budget
  • government

Assessment of Racial and Gender Equity Impact Assessments


Equity impact assessments are tools policymakers use to identify risk areas where implicit biases may affect behaviors and judgments towards individuals or groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, or ability, and to create policies that are mindful of those risks. This memo includes four case studies of government jurisdictions across the United States which have utilized equity impact assessments, provides a summary of common practices for creating such assessments, and outlines four policy options the Commissioners Court may consider for utilizing equity impact assessments in the county.

  • government

Zero Based Budgeting Analysis


This report provides an overview of Zero Based Budgeting (ZBB) - a method of budgeting that compels budgeting entities to create budgets starting from zero and provide justifications for each expenditure for consideration by decision-makers. This report highlights four case studies that demonstrate how local governments have applied variations of ZBB and includes three policy options for Harris County Commissioners Court to consider.

  • budget
  • government

Inventory of Polling Location Changes in Harris County


This analysis compiled an inventory of locations, addresses,voting precinct numbers, county commissioner precinct number, reasons, and dates, from 2011-2019, in response to poll location closures in Harris County. Starting in 2016, events, including polling location boundary changes and Hurricane Harvey, led to higher numbers of changes. The 2016 General Election saw the highest number of polling location changes, with 175 ( 23%) of all polling locations available that election, changed. 

  • government

Inventory of Active COVID-19 Relief Funds Across the US, Review of Best Practices for Relief Funds, and Estimate of the Impact of Proposed Harris County Fund


The economic fallout related to COVID-19 impacts many Harris County residents and businesses. This memo provides an overview of then-emerging COVID-19 economic relief funds in jurisdictions across the country and offers best practices for establishing a local relief fund. This memo also provides a review of the economic outlook in Harris County as a result of the pandemic, current relief efforts underway, and estimates of the impact of a proposed $15 million Harris County Relief Fund.

  • health
  • government

Inventory of Policies Implemented in Jurisdictions Across the United States to Address the Developing Novel Coronavirus Outbreak


The rapid spread of COVID-19 prompted many jurisdictions to enact local policies to prevent transmission of the disease. This memo provides a summary of CDC guidelines and a review of reported advisories, policies, and strategies implemented by other jurisdictions in response to COVID-19.

  • health
  • government

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