Annual Report 2005
Faculty help Albany-area citizens and officials understand the many implications of changing their form of government.
Improving operations and anticipating their citizens' needs are activities that go hand-in-hand in today's government setting. The Vinson Institute provides a range of technical assistance to help officials be proactive in their roles as public servants. This assistance is objective and directly applicable to the issue at hand.
Georgia ranks 40th in the nation in child health and well-being, and the state has been lacking in any academic child and family policy and research capacity. Faculty and staff with the Institute's Child and Family Policy Initiative expanded their work program in 2005 to carry out more activities aimed at bringing information and assistance to those state and local authorities charged with serving and protecting Georgia families. Faculty from the Vinson Institute and the School of Social Work in collaboration with the state's Administrative Office of the Courts and Office of Child Safety Enforcement documented for the first time how the child legitimation process is being administered in Georgia's judicial circuit and what obstacles it raises in the provision of social services to children of unmarried couples. Seminars and programs conducted with the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and Georgia State University's Health Policy Center offered policymakers solution-oriented research on such issue as childhood obesity and factors affecting child well-being.
Attention given statewide to the successful Sandy Springs incorporation no doubt played a role in the many requests for technical assistance from local governments and commissions interested in exploring consolidation, incorporation, or annexation. Faculty and staff addressed requests from communities throughout the state for clarification of fiscal, legal, operational, and demographic implications of these changes.
Information technology faculty and staff continued their work in helping state and local governments enhance their operations through Geographic Information Services (GIS). Projects ranged from tax parcel mapping and digitizing documents to decision-making tools for state agencies and new mapping standards for the official state base map.
The Institute's Human Resource Management Program continues to be recognized nationally for its assistance to state and local governments and public safety units, including classification/compensation studies, executive searches, and promotions systems exams. New in 2005 was the addition of a faculty member to provide assistance to local governments in benchmarking performance, brought on in part by the recent expansion of uniform reporting in Georgia local governments. Local governments learn to collect information in such a way that they can then identify service areas for which their performance is below that of comparable jurisdictions.
Other timely assistance included providing legal expertise on a range of policy and management issues, exploring staffing options, and summarizing task force work into a useful format for decisionmaking by officials. An Institute faculty member was awarded a grant to explore Georgia state and local policies that affect the ability of impoverished families to transform their income into wealth via affordable home ownership.
On the international front, faculty worked with Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar in Zagreb, Croatia, to develop technical assistance services in grassroots economic development and local government outreach.