Gulf states updates, resources, and events from RAND

RAND Gulf States Policy Institute Newsletter

May 2014

A periodic report on the activities of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute

From the Director

Gary Cecchine

For decades, the U.S. Gulf Coast's unique culture has defined the region to the rest of the nation. But now we can proudly add something else to the list of things that define us: coastal planning and resilience.

The region's commitment to hazard and adaptation planning is helping decisionmakers across the country identify solutions for risk reduction and conservation. This month marks the two-year anniversary of the unanimous approval of Louisiana's 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. Since that time, a number of public agencies in the New York City region have begun discussions about developing a similar plan. Many of these agencies have shown considerable interest in the methods and tools RAND created to evaluate hundreds of possible projects in Louisiana. The Bureau of Reclamation and states in the Colorado River Basin too have used a version of our methods to assess different water supply and demand-reduction options.

To continue our research contribution in this field, my RAND colleagues involved with the Louisiana Master Plan recently published Strengthening Coastal Planning: How Coastal Regions Could Benefit from Louisiana's Planning and Analysis Framework. This report is featured in the next section below.

We hope it serves to help other regions visualize possible risks and assess where to act in terms of risk reduction, adaptation, and conservation.

In related news, I am pleased to congratulate New Orleans for its selection to join the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities Network. The city I call home was selected from nearly 400 cities across six continents, and my colleague Joie Acosta and I were honored to participate recently in an inaugural event to discuss resilience in our communities.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me at and visit us at

Gary Cecchine, Ph.D.
Director of Research, RAND Gulf States Policy Institute


Hurricane-damaged house

The risks posed by coastal storms, including storm surges, heavy winds, and flooding profoundly shape the lives of U.S. Gulf Coast residents: how our individual and community priorities are set, what we must prepare for, the types of policies we need to develop and improve.

Now, with a comprehensive 50-year, $50 billion Coastal Master Plan that works toward protecting the coast's people, resources, and ecosystem, Louisiana's experience is helping inform best coastal planning practices for other coastal communities. The other Gulf states are following suit in a variety of ways, particularly in planning activities related to the RESTORE Act.

A new report highlighting RAND's contributions to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's (CPRA) development of the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan suggests a number of best practices in coastal planning. Here are a few:

Be certain about uncertainty

Today's coastal regions face new and potentially more devastating versions of long-experienced hazards. Economic development, population growth, and climate change are increasing these regions' risks of flooding and land loss. At stake are the health and well being of millions of coastal residents, and billions of dollars.

RAND research, such as development of the Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment (CLARA) model, helped CPRA evaluate the effects of hundreds of different proposed risk-reduction and coastal restoration projects on the Louisiana coast across different future scenarios.

Use technical analysis to inform difficult decisions

Creating a coastal protection and restoration plan is fraught with difficult choices and tradeoffs. Decisionmakers need a way to take all social, economic, and ecological concerns into consideration and understand how each will be affected by different plans and different futures.

RAND developed a Planning Tool to help inform these tough decisions. The Planning Tool was used throughout the process to show how different projects would perform under difference scenarios, and how projects could be combined to achieve different coastal protection and restoration objectives within funding constraints.

Listen to stakeholders as well as experts

Every coastal region across the U.S. is different, and there is no “one plan fits all” approach in preparing for the future. The Planning Tool was used to support deliberations among decisionmakers as well as with different stakeholders, including homeland security agencies, environmental advocacy groups, transformation and energy experts, tourism and recreation agencies, and others. The Planning Tool enabled these groups to participate in collective problem recognition and problem solving to assure that their deep knowledge and concerns would be recognized and addressed during the planning process.

Don't stop evaluating

Continuous and comprehensive evaluation of plan options and performance is needed as the future unfolds and coastal science and understanding evolves. Jordan Fischbach, David Groves, and other RAND analysts working with RGSPI continue to provide support to CPRA as they develop a 2017 update to the Coastal Master Plan. We look forward to updating you on their progress.

News Release   Research Brief   Full Document   Blog Post  


RAND Gulf States is an integral part of the RAND Corporation and its more than 1,200 researchers working around the world on many topics that are relevant to our Gulf States community. Below is a sample of recent research that may be of interest to you:

Evaluation of the Leading Educators Program

Teacher with student

RAND researchers are gearing up to work with the New Orleans-based Leading Educators program to help them understand the impact of their work. Specifically, we will be evaluating how well the Leading Educators' Fellowship achieves its goals of developing a tier of teachers within a school building who, after receiving Leading Educator training, develop other teachers, thereby improving student achievement and reducing turnover of teaching staff in high-needs schools. RAND will evaluate Fellowship programs in New Orleans, Kansas City, Washington, D.C., and Memphis.

Learn More (

Technology Literacy Vital but Not Accessible to All Children

Students with pen and computer

A recent RAND publication, Using Early Childhood Education to Bridge the Digital Divide, suggests that technology literacy plays an important role in a child's ability to succeed in school and later life. Yet, despite rapid growth in society's use of digital technology, many children in low-income families in the United States are not able to access and use technology in the same ways as their more-advantaged peers.

News Release   Research Brief   RAND Perspective  

Military Caregivers Require Care and Resources

Military caregiver

Approximately 5.5 million military caregivers assist or manage the care of current or former military service members with a disabling physical or mental injury or illness. The RAND Military Caregivers Study is supporting this important group by describing the magnitude of military caregiving in the United States today and identifying gaps in the array of programs, policies, and initiatives designed to support military caregivers.

Project Site   Research Report  

Can Health Care-Related Technology Be Cost Effective?

Health care device

Many experts identify costly new technology as the biggest driver of health care spending. But what about those technologies that might improve health and reduce spending, or that provide large enough health benefits to warrant extra spending? A recent RAND study focused on policies that could help change which medical products — drugs, devices, and health information technologies — get invented in the first place.

News Release   Research Brief   Research Report  

About Us

The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute provides objective analysis to federal, state, and local leaders in support of evidence-based policymaking and the well-being of individuals throughout the U.S. Gulf States region.

We invite your suggestions for researchers, projects, centers, and funding or collaboration opportunities to highlight in future issues. Write to director Gary Cecchine at


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