Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab Fellow Positions

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Government Performance Lab · Remote (USA)

Public Service & Civic Engagement
$90,000 Per Year
Posted 3 weeks ago

Project Management

The mission of the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL) is to accelerate U.S. progress on difficult social problems by improving how state and local government’s function. We hire and train fulltime team members to collaborate closely with government innovators in developing and testing initiatives that
lead to the creation of more just and effective service systems in areas including child and family wellbeing, criminal justice, homelessness and behavioral health, economic mobility in historically marginalized communities, and procurement. GPL staff advance key initiatives through applied research and technical
assistance, including identifying high-impact areas for systems re-engineering, implementing pilot projects to demonstrate innovative methods, and building government capacity for sustained change. Because many of the challenges we work on are rooted in historic and systemic wrongs, particularly systemic racism, we know that addressing them requires solutions that center diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We are committed to increasing diversity, improving equity, and fostering inclusion in our internal and external work – from the methods we use to hire and train our staff to the way we select and execute projects in the field.


Position Overview

The GPL is seeking to hire fellows with a passion for improving government performance and solving social problems. Fellows function as day-to-day project managers, shepherding important transformation projects from conceptualization through design and implementation. Successful fellows come from a variety of backgrounds and are typically:

  • Creative problem solvers
  • Strong project managers
  • Thoughtful relationship builders
  • Strong analytical thinkers
  • Capable of navigating complex organizations and stakeholders
  • Comfortable driving work forward independently and working on a geographically dispersed team

Fellows may be placed on site with a government office or agency that is spearheading a project or provide support remotely to one or more jurisdictions. Management and coaching are provided by a manager at the Government Performance Lab as well as by the government policy lead. Fellow responsibilities vary from project to project and frequently include:

  1. Diagnosing challenges in government functions and service delivery
  2. Crafting operationally feasible, high impact solutions to those challenges
  3. Helping governments implement solutions to produce meaningful changes in client outcomes and make frequent adjustments to implementation based on results
  4. Building buy-in for reforms and government capacity to sustain them
  5. Contributing to spreading demonstrated solutions nationwide In undertaking these responsibilities, fellows’ day-to-day work often involves:


Project Management

  • Manage and coordinate reform projects while navigating complex organizational structures.
  • Develop, introduce, and oversee performance management systems to enable government and service providers to better collaborate on service delivery.

Communications and Relationship Building

  • Conduct interviews and site visits with government officials, community stakeholders, and people with lived experience to uncover service delivery barriers and inform solutions.
  • Facilitate meetings, trainings, and workshops to advance project work and build capacity; provide coaching to permanent government staff.
  • Brief agency leaders and solicit decisions from them at key project milestones.
  • Write memos, presentations, training documents, and procurement solicitations with the aim of making complex information easy to understand. 


Research and Data Analysis

  • Help governments match and analyze administrative data to measure population outcomes, understand cost-effectiveness, and form insights that can improve service delivery.
  • Use continuous improvement tools to analyze existing processes and design new processes that enable agencies to better serve constituents.
  • Apply a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion to government service delivery challenges.
  • Understand program evaluation principles and use them to improve government operations.
  • Review research literature, government documents, and best practices to inform project work.

Community of Practice

  • Share insights with colleagues, helping to spread lessons and best practices across the GPL.
  • Draft blog posts, project features, and policy briefs to help the GPL share its work broadly.

Learning is a key part of the experience. Fellows are part of a coast-to-coast community of GPL team members dedicated to sharing lessons learned, building organizational expertise, and refining GPL tools, models, and frameworks. Through project work and regular engagement with the broader GPL community, fellows will
develop substantial policy area expertise, hands-on project management experience, and a deep familiarity with government and nonprofit organization processes.

Required qualifications

  • Strong project management capabilities—ability to independently execute project tasks and meet key project deadlines.
  • Ability to navigate complex organizations, develop trust with senior leaders, and build relationships among diverse groups of stakeholders.
  • For some locations, ability to travel on a regular basis is required. Many kinds of experiences could prepare an individual to thrive in this role. We expect the strongest candidates will have many, but likely not all, of the qualifications listed below:


Preferred qualifications

  • Passion for improving government performance and solving social problems.
  • Self-motivated with an orientation towards results.
  • Excellent written and verbal communications, including memos, slide decks, and public speaking.
  • Awareness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and orientations, and ability to apply that to their work.
  • Sound quantitative and analytical skills, with experience generating and using data to drive insights and communicating those insights to others.
  • Graduate-level training in public policy, business, law, economics, social work, or related fields is preferred.
  • At least two years of professional work experience is preferred.


Additional Information and Application Instructions

Compensation: GPL fellows will be funded for one year at a salary of $90,000 plus benefits. Fellows based in the states where Harvard is registered to do business—California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington—will have their pay and benefits administered through Harvard. Fellows in any other state have their pay and benefits, including medical insurance, administered through Harvard’s payroll service provider AllSourcePPS and will formally be an employee of AllSourcePPS. For the duration of the fellowship, fellows will have a Harvard appointment as a fellow at the GPL.

Possible projects in social services include the following:

  • Children & Families. Our Children and Families Practice supports jurisdictions committed to reimagining the way they support children and families, redirecting resources towards prevention investments that help shrink punitive government responses such as child protection investigations and removals.
  • Criminal Justice. Our criminal justice portfolio aims to reduce the harms of the criminal justice system by testing, scaling, and spreading interventions that prevent individuals from entering or deepening contact with the criminal justice system. To achieve this, our projects focus on upstream interventions such as developing government and community led offices of neighborhood safety, sending alternative responder teams to 911 calls, setting up pathways to direct people with mental
    health needs to service centers instead of jail, replacing cash bail requirements with supportive services, and reducing punitive conditions for individuals awaiting trial in the community.
  • Opportunity Accelerator. Opportunity Accelerator (OA) is a national initiative focused on building the capacity of governments to achieve better economic mobility outcomes for residents. OA strategies include diagnosing and remedying service gaps, centering racial equity and community voice in decision-making, implementing performance management approaches that align provider and government goals to meet community needs, and collaborating across sectors to achieve populationlevel outcome targets.
  • Homelessness & Housing. Our Homelessness & Housing practice supports jurisdictions to take a housing first, equity-centered, data-driven, collaborative approach to sustainably reducing homelessness. We work with jurisdictions to build out systems that 1) prevent homelessness by supporting vulnerably housed individuals further upstream and 2) reduce the amount of time individuals spend unsheltered or in temporary shelter by creating streamlined, client-centered rehousing processes that yield benefits for unhoused individuals, response systems, and housing partners.


Possible projects in Procurement include the following:

GPL provides technical assistance to cities across the U.S., Latin America, and Canada through Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities initiative, and GPL also supports states and counties in procurement transformation. Our approach enables government to leverage procurement as a strategic tool in order to achieve better outcomes for residents.
Potential locations include: Albuquerque or Santa Fe, NM; Alameda County, CA; Atlanta, GA; Detroit or Lansing, MI; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Seattle, WA; Syracuse, NY; Washington DC; and Remote
Positions (requires access to major U.S. airports for occasional travel).
More information on projects will be available during the interview process.
Start Date: Candidates should be available to start in July of 2023.
Application Instructions: Candidates should submit an application using the GPL’s Online Application
Form by Sunday, February 12, 2023.


About the Government Performance Lab

The Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School conducts research on how governments can improve the results they achieve for their residents. An important part of this research model involves providing technical assistance to state and local governments. We improve how governments function and how services are delivered, speed up progress on difficult social problems, and ultimately make a meaningful difference in the lives of vulnerable people across the United States. To date, the GPL has engaged with 89 jurisdictions spread across 35 states and has conducted more than 200 projects shifting more than $6B in government spending towards results. For more information on the GPL, please visit http://govlab.hks.harvard.edu.

Harvard University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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