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about image April 9, 2007

As spring cautiously rolls into Cambridge, we are busy promoting research, teaching and dialogue to solve problems at the interface of business and government.

The Harvard/Kennedy School Health Care Delivery Project (HCDP) held its winter meeting at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida in Jacksonville on February 6-7.  The HCDP Policy Group addressed the major issues of insurance and delivery systems that are so prominent in our public discussions.  The three presentations included:  (1) the potential to use the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program as a model for universal health insurance; (2) state experiments such as the one we are doing in Massachusetts; and (3) a proposal on accountable health plans.  The Project has also posted on its website an updated summary of its Covered Lives series, along with updated Disease Incidence and Prevalence Statistics, and Customers by Market Segment.

We wish three of our predoctoral fellows at Harvard’s Environmental Economics Program (HEEP, formerly the Environmental Economics Program at Harvard University)  well as they accept exciting new positions: Gergely Ujhelyi has accepted a position of Assistant Professor at the University of Houston’s Department of Economics, Fan Zhang has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Energy Economics and Policy at Pennsylvania State University, and Gernot Wagner has accepted a position as a consultant in the Energy Practice at the Boston Consulting Group in New York City.

Our senior fellows program is inviting applications for the fall.  Senior Fellows have harnessed the remarkable capabilities of practitioners to turn conceptual possibilities into practical realities.  Recent projects incubated at M-RCBG include a book on private management of public schools, an academic journal article on business ethics, a teaching case on public-private partnerships and a public financing proposal that saw its way into the 2005 Energy Bill.  Senior fellows participate in all aspects of the life of the center. They help us translate real-world applications into a teachable tool-kit for our students to take out into the world.  Many senior fellows have used their time at M-RCBG as a time of both personal and professional growth: a time either of study and reflection or as a way to transition to new professional possibilities.  Please visit our website for more information.

Center faculty continue to work hard on teaching and research, influencing debate to create public value. F. M. Scherer, Aetna Professor Emeritus, returned to the Kennedy School last September, and is currently teaching a business and government course, "Industry Structure, Strategy, and Public Policy."  In January, at a seminar at the University of Piemonte, Allesandria, Italy, he participated in a seminar with Federal Judge Guido Calabrese on class action litigation, whose wider application is being contemplated in the European Union.  On March 30, he spoke on “The Intellectual History of ‘Intellectual Property’” at a conference in honor of Jean O. Lanjouw at the University of California, Berkeley.  This month he will participate in a panel at Georgetown University Law School on “The Influence of Conservative Economics on U.S. Antitrust Law.”  He also has several working papers on Kennedy School websites, including "Technological Innovation and Monopolization," "The Political Economy of U.S. Patent Policy Reform," "Pharmaceutical Innovation," and "Corporate Structure and the Financial Support of U.S. Symphony Orchestras."  Finally, with William S. Comanor of the University of California, Los Angeles, he submitted in February 2007 an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in connection with the Leegin resale price maintenance proceeding.  We are thrilled to have Mike back at the Center!

Linda Bilmes’s work on the subject of veterans’ health care continues to receive widespread coverage, appearing in Newsweek, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe.  On March 13th, 2007, Linda testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on veterans’ health care and disability claims.  Focusing on “the projected number of veterans’ claims, the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs to process those claims, and the cost of providing benefits to returning OIF/OEF soldiers,” she estimates the long-term costs of disability compensation for our returning veterans to be between $70 – $150 billion.  Her paper on “Soldiers Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan: The Long-term Costs of Providing Veterans Medical Care and Disability Benefits” is available on the Kennedy School’s working papers website.

On March 16, we welcomed a delegation from Japan’s Kansai Keizai Doyukai for our 14th annual one day symposium.  This year focused on “Sustainable Development in the Asia/Pacific Region: National Security, Energy Resources & Regional Economic Zones,” and featured frank exchanges on a variety of topics from strengthening economics partnerships to an assessment of China’s energy resources.  Other happenings in our Asia programs include a two-day conference on March 29-30 in Hong Kong on the future of the US-China relationship.  Asia programs staff assisted the Belfer Center’s Richard Rosecrance with this endeavor.

The Harvard Electricity Policy Group (HEPG) recently launched its new website, continuing to expand its research library (now featuring more than 1,500 documents dating back to the early 1990s), and adding a new section on “fellowships and opportunities,” which details information regarding opportunities available in the field of electricity policy.  HEPG held its 46th Plenary Session on March 15-16 in Laguna Beach, California.  Discussion topics included how government oversight affects electricity contracts; consumer participation in reducing electricity consumption; and developing the transmission necessary to capitalize on alternative energies such as wind power. Participants included senior executives from HEPG member companies; regional system operators; chairs and commissioners from various state public utility commissions including California, Delaware, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania; and academics.

We are delighted to announce that the Center has established a thesis prize for a graduating Harvard College senior.  The John T. Dunlop Thesis Prize in Business and Government will be awarded to the graduating senior who writes the best thesis on a challenging public policy issue at the interface of business and government.  The prize will be awarded to the best paper that examines the business-government interface with respect to regulation, corporate responsibility, energy, the environment, health care, education, technology and human rights among others. A $500 prize will be provided to the winning entry.  John Dunlop was the Center’s second Director from 1987 to 1991.  This year’s deadline for entry is May 24, 2007, and additional information may be found here.  In other student news, M-RCBG is pleased to be supporting two student conferences this year: The 2007 Black Policy Conference (April 13-14, 2007) and the 13th Annual International Development Conference (April 20-22, 2007).

The latest Foreign Policy magazine rankings of the twenty-five most influential international relations scholars were published recently, based on a survey of several thousand academics. I am happy to report that KSG was the only school or department in the country with three faculty members on that list: Joe Nye, myself, and Steve Walt. For the first time they did a similar ranking for Canada, and I may have to move back insofar as I’m considered even more influential there!

Finally, last week I presented my most recent report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, entitled “Business and Human Rights: Mapping International Standards of Responsibility and Accountability for Corporate Acts.” It was very well received and governments are threatening to extend my mandate by one year to have me continue to work on these issues and up with a set of recommendations for how to move ahead.



John G. Ruggie

Frank and Denie Weil Director, Center for Business and Government
Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs