Master of Public Service Administration (MPSA) Capstones
During their second year, MPSA students participate in two semesters of capstone research courses. These courses allow students to tackle a problem or project in the real world, often working in conjunction with a government agency or nonprofit organization. Designed to test the knowledge and abilities students have developed through their previous classes and experiences, capstones necessitate strong teamwork, careful research, writing ability, and often a large amount of ingenuity in identifying ways to approach an issue or find a solution.
Aho, Andrea; Harris, Amanda; Kessel, Kendall; Park, Jongsoo; Park, Jong Taek; Rios, Lisa; Swendig, Brett ( 2010)[more][less]
Abstract: The stability of the nonprofit sector and its ability to meet our nation‘s needs in an era of unprecedented challenges requires a solid nonprofit infrastructure (Brown, et al., 2008). These organizations that comprise this infrastructure system work behind the scenes to provide nonprofit organizations with capacity-building support. However, little is known about the actual infrastructure system, especially at the state and local levels. In order to better understand this system, student researchers from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University were asked to replicate Dr. David O. Renz‘s 2008 study, ―The U.S. Nonprofit Infrastructure Mapped.‖ The Bush School study focused specifically on the nonprofit infrastructure structure in Texas by categorizing and mapping selected nonprofit organizations using the 11 roles and functions identified by Renz (2008). This report provides a literature review of nonprofit capacity building and organizational infrastructure. In addition, the data collection and classification using Renz‘s 11 roles and functions are detailed and mapping methodology is described. Finally, the researchers offer findings, questions to consider, and recommendations for further research. Findings from this study include: o Urban areas had the largest concentration of infrastructure organizations. Of the 389 nonprofit infrastructure organizations, the largest concentration of organizations was located near Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Several non-metropolitan regions in the state are lacking similar concentrations, even after consideration of the size of the nonprofit sector or general population in the respective regions. o Many organizations performed multiple roles and functions. In one case, one organization performed 10 functions. Many other organizations that were studied performed more than one of the 11 functions. o A large number of infrastructure organizations provide financial support to nonprofits. More than half of the organizations analyzed were categorized as Renz‘s Function Three-Financial Intermediaries because they facilitated the collection and distribution of financial resources to nonprofit organizations. Additionally, 40.4% of the organizations were categorized as Renz‘s Function Four-Funding Organizations because they provided financial resources to nonprofit operating organizations through the distribution of funds from asset pools that they own, manage, and allocate. Future research needs to be Page 4 conducted, however, to determine what proportion of funding is devoted to funding of the other nine Renz categories versus funding to nonprofits providing direct services. It would be useful to consider and respond to categories lacking in such funding, relative to the infrastructure needs of Texas nonprofits generally and also in particular regions of Texas or nonprofit subfields. o Some infrastructure functions were not as apparent. Researchers found that two of Renz‘s functions (Function One-Accountability and Regulation and Function Ten-Research) were performed by less than 5% of the organizations that were analyzed. Recommendations that emerged from this study were: o Regular updates of nonprofit information are important for future research. Nonprofit managers need to be educated about the importance of updating their organization‘s publicly available information. If their website or GuideStar reports are not current, researchers,practitioners, and other constituents cannot accurately analyze the organization. o Nonprofits need to clarify their roles using Renz’s 11 roles and function. Organizations with a mission to support the nonprofit sector should clarify their focus based on the definitions of capacity-building and infrastructure developed by Renz (2008). Do the organizations intend to support the entire nonprofit infrastructure in Texas or only support Function Nine-Capacity Development and Technical Assistance? o Strengthen associations of nonprofit infrastructure organizations throughout the Texas. This action will benefit nonprofit organizations through improved communication among infrastructure organizations, as well as economies of scale and scope. o Facilitate the creation of a network of representatives from each Council of Governments (COG). This organization can serve as a point of contact for matters about the nonprofit infrastructure of that COG.
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Aldape, Nichole; Barker, Carolyn; Beekley, Taja; Brown, Angela Faye; Brown, Erin; Cross, Staci; Ekwurzel, Erica; Garner, Lindsey; Hart, Alison; Jones, Alexis; Juckett, Karen; Kennedy, Chris; Larson, Esther; Lee, Grace; Nedderman, Leah; Pesti, Ilona; Schwartz, Michele; Shaw, Joseph; Sigler, Rodney; Sinatra, Christine; Teleki, Katherine; Terrazas, Erica; Wagner, Elizabeth ( 2006)[more][less]
Abstract: Recent research has identified explosive growth in the nonprofit sector and an increased interest in evaluating and improving nonprofit performance through organizational capacity building. The growing emphasis on capacity-building services for nonprofits nationwide has resulted in the need for better information about support services for the sector. Considering the burgeoning role of capacity building in nonprofit operations, it is important to understand more about the industry that provides support and resources to nonprofits, including in the growing communities located in Central Texas. This report represents the first comprehensive study of nonprofit and volunteer capacity-building activities in Central Texas. The result of a unique collaboration between graduate students at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, this study was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Angela Bies at the Bush School and Dr. Sarah Jane Rehnborg at the LBJ School. Twenty-three graduate students in both programs conducted the research and analysis for this report from September 2005 through April 2006. The Bush School and the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School provided funding for the study. The project also partnered on a pro bono basis with two client organizations, the United Way Capital Area and the Texas Nonprofit Management Assistance Network. The primary research objective was to replicate two recent studies. The first was Millesen and Bies 2004 report for the Forbes Funds, An Analysis of the Pittsburgh Region s Capacity- Building Industry. The second was an examination of volunteer management capacity modeled on a nationwide volunteer management study (Hager, 2004) conducted by the Urban Institute in collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service. Because our research took place in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, we also explored nonprofit capacity issues related to emergency interventions, particularly how crises affect organizations needs for and uses of capacity building.
Description: Based on a Collaboration of The LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin & The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University
Files in this item: 1nonprofitvolunteercapacity.pdf (831.6Kb)
Appleby, James; Ashton, Kyle; Ferrell, James; Gesing, Emily; Jackson, Sarah; Lindner, Travis; Mata, Silvester; Shelnutt, Andrew; Wu, Yisha ( 2011)[more][less]
Abstract: In 2010, with the support of the Greater Texas Foundation (GTF), the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University initiated a study of dual credit opportunities in the state of Texas. Through a Capstone course directed by Prof. Jeryl L. Mumpower, Director of the Master of Public Service and Administration Program, this group was charged with analyzing and presenting data related to both the degree of access to dual credit resources throughout Texas, as well as the effectiveness of dual credit opportunities by type. The Greater Texas Foundation further charged the Capstone group with examining the dual credit opportunities for minority, low-income, and rural populations. Throughout a year-long course of study, the Capstone team worked to collect data regarding these issues. We hope that this study will provide a valuable resource for our client, the Greater Texas Foundation, as well as for researchers and practitioners in Texas and throughout the nation. In examining dual credit in the state of Texas, the Capstone team identified seven research questions of particular interest to GTF, falling within two topic areas: access to dual credit and the effectiveness of current dual credit programs. Access to Dual Credit Programs 1. Where are dual credit programs available in the state of Texas? 2. How many students participate in dual credit programs? 3. What is the level of participation for rural, economically disadvantaged, and minority students? 4. What factors affect whether students participate in dual credit courses? Effectiveness of Dual Credit Programs 5. How does postsecondary performance of dual credit participants compare to students who didn‘t participate in dual credit programs? 6. Do certain high schools have dual credit programs with graduates who fare better than those from other programs? 7. Which dual credit models have the best rates of postsecondary enrollment and graduation among their graduates? This study has involved two primary efforts. The first was an extensive review of relevant literature to provide a thorough backdrop for analyses of the Texas situation. The second was original analyses of data collected and compiled by members of the Bush School Capstone team.
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Mapping the Nonprofit Infrastructure: A Comparison of Capacity Building and Related Resources in Texas and BeyondCho, Yusun; Gongora, Victor; Haymond, Annie; Jauer, Joyce; Nash, EddieMae; Neal, Emily; Rogers, Julie; Yun, Chang ( 2011)[more][less]
Immigration Reform: Policies and Implementation - An Evaluation of American Immigration Policy and Recommended ChangesBuck, Caitlin; Cravatt, Cody; Fagin, Paul; Finney, Angela; Gomes, Rafael; Shan, Sandy; Skarboe, Bjorne; Sarmiento Quezada, Brenda; Wagner, Jason ( 2010)[more][less]
Abstract: Americans are dissatisfied with their immigration system and are seeking changes. However, additional demands and expectations will be placed on those organizations that have to enforce and implement these changes. How will comprehensive immigration reform affect federal agencies? Determining the specific implementation demands likely to result from comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation without knowing the specific policy elements that will be enacted is a difficult task. Nevertheless, this report presents a broad overview of the probable effects of likely policy changes by presenting an authoritative analysis utilizing a comprehensive literature review, a detailed investigation of relevant case studies, secondary analysis of public opinion polls, and in-depth interviews with eleven-stakeholder groups. An overwhelming number of stakeholders identified the status quo as the most likely short-term condition. Yet this does not preclude incremental change from happening within agencies through internal reforms. Our research provides a roadmap for the likely areas of policy focus. Likely Areas of Policy Focus Border and Interior Enforcement Employer Regulations Guest Worker/Visa Program Legalization Border and interior enforcement refers to any type of legislation that would include security measures taken to enforce immigration laws either on the borders by CBP or within the interior of our country by state and local authorities. This could include proposals like the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) that would require increases in enforcement and would create additional ICE and CBP demands. Employer regulations refers to any polices that would change the current U.S. employer regulations or increase current sanctions for employers. Changes in this area could include a mandatory implementation of the current E-Verify system on a nationwide scale. The guest worker/visa program area of focus refers to any reforms that would modify the options immigrants currently have to work legally in the U.S. This could involve the creation of a new guest worker program or an increase in the number of visas for any particular group of workers. Finally, the area of legalization includes pathways to citizenship that would offer immigrants an opportunity to become citizens through a naturalization or amnesty process. Our stakeholder interviews suggested that CIR would most likely exacerbate the challenges federal agencies currently face. The likely areas of policy focus we have identified create corresponding implementation concerns for numerous agencies. The concerns for agencies are pervasive and crosscutting. Areas of Concern Technology Personnel Management Funding Bush School of Government Immigration Reform: Policies and Implementation 2 To illustrate how the policy focus areas interact with the areas of concern a few examples are provided herein. Technology concerns for employer regulations would include improving the current E-Verify system to avoid errors and TNC (Tentative Non-Confirmation) results. Personnel concerns for legalization would include recommendations that USCIS staff be augmented to respond to any increases in legalization applications that would create a capacity strain for the agency. Management concerns for enforcement would include improving collaboration and communication among CBP, ICE and the FBI to improve database linkage and the sharing of information. In our stakeholder interviews 31% of our respondents felt that interagency collaboration would be crucial for enforcement efforts. With regard to funding, there were concerns that agencies like DOS and DOL would require additional appropriations to combat any increases in the number of visas since this would lead to influx of applications that would need to be processed. Regardless of the legislation passed, these concerns will undoubtedly force agencies to address long-standing challenges. Many of these challenges can be addressed only through costly measures that are often price-prohibitive. Thus, contracting options offer a viable solution. In this report, we explore several programs that provide future growth platforms for contracting. Contracting Options Technology Consulting Services o Database Operations o Biometric Technologies o Surveillance and Monitoring Systems Management Consulting Services Our research indicated a number of opportunities for contractors to provide technological consulting service and assistance to federal agencies and private employers who would need to comply with new federal mandates. A few of these options might include IT strategy and consolidation to address backlogs within USCIS or database consolidation to address database fragmentation; for instance the integration of the DHS ENFORCE and Fugitive Case Management System databases. Additionally, new enforcement measures for both national security and employer verification could allow contractors the opportunity to help federal agencies and private employers implement new biometric technologies. Finally, contractors could provide agencies management consulting services to restructure agency operations or train personnel to ensure the success of new programs and legislative mandates. The uncertainty surrounding the immigration reform debate prevents definitive analysis of what changes CIR will bring, but the policy areas and implementation concerns provided in this report provide an impartial and timeless approach to the issue of immigration reform.
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