Message from the Editor

Hidden beneath the grim surface of the three major feature stories in this issue is a surprisingly hopeful message about the worthiness of interagency collaborations — at the local, national, and international levels. Public institutions that coordinate their resources can greatly increase the likelihood of resolving, or at least ameliorating, otherwise intractable policy problems.

Few social ills in America seem as resistant to change as gun violence among inner-city youth. And yet a collaboration of community groups and public agencies in the famously decentralized city of Los Angeles succeeded in reducing gun violence among multigenerational gangs. In our cover story, George Tita and his associates explain how the temporary reductions in violence could be made permanent. One key recommendation is to strengthen the interagency linkages, both by supporting them financially and by holding them accountable for their work.

Nationally, the number of Americans without health insurance soared last year by 2.4 million, the biggest single-year increase in a decade, raising the total to 43.6 million people. That’s roughly 15 percent of the U.S. population. As Susan Marquis and Stephen Long explain, several state governments have made halting progress toward insuring their residents and strengthening the safety net of public health services. However, the real hope lies in a tighter collaboration among state and federal agencies to accomplish what the states alone cannot accomplish.

On an international level, the relentlessly antagonistic postures of U.S. and Russian nuclear forces stand out as superb examples of bureaucratic inertia among security agencies in both countries. To break the dangerous and needless impasse, David Mosher and Lowell Schwartz suggest a series of steps that can be negotiated between the two nuclear establishments. In this case, however, binational interagency and intermilitary collaborations alone can do very little to solve the problem. It will depend principally on the exercise of presidential leadership.

—John Godges