RAND Gulf States Policy Institute Opens Office in New Orleans

For Release

August 20, 2007

The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute (RGSPI), a division of the RAND Corporation, is expanding with the addition of a new office in the central business district of New Orleans.

RAND is a nonprofit research institution that addresses the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. In partnership with seven universities in the region, RAND created RGSPI to work with state and local officials, organizations and the private sector to develop a long-term vision and strategy to help build a better future for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

RGSPI, which also has an office in Jackson, Miss., was launched at the end of 2005 to provide evidence-based policy guidance to speed regional recovery and growth, and to tackle the significant regional needs and issues that existed before the storms.

It has produced several studies, including a report establishing the considerable rise in premiums and major drop in insurance protection impacting businesses and homeowners seeking wind insurance in the Gulf region. Other recent studies include the very earliest projections of population return; a comprehensive analysis of the affordable housing shortage in Mississippi; training, recruitment and retention recommendations for the New Orleans Police Department; and an evaluation of the near- and long-term mental health needs of those affected by the hurricanes.

The institute is a collaboration between RAND, including the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and seven universities in the Gulf States region: Jackson State University, Tulane University, Tuskegee University, University of New Orleans, University of South Alabama, University of Southern Mississippi, and Xavier University of Louisiana.

George Penick, director of RGSPI, said the new office is both an indication of the importance of New Orleans in the region's recovery as well as a symbol of RAND's long-term commitment to providing objective public policy analysis for the Gulf States region.

"Our new office will allow the institute to participate more completely in rebuilding efforts and to respond more quickly to the problems that arise in the city and the surrounding region," Penick said.

The New Orleans office will be home to two full-time researchers, as well as other visiting RGSPI researchers conducting research in the area. Penick also will work from both the new RGSPI office in New Orleans and the Jackson office.

Penick said RGSPI will continue to focus its public policy work on such critical issues as health, k-12 education, affordable housing, economic development, housing creation and environmental and infrastructure repair and protection in the region.

"Major policy decisions regarding regional recovery are still on the horizon, as well as a host of challenges that predated the 2005 hurricane," Penick said. "RAND is committed to being a part of the solution: to finding answers and helping state and local governments in the region realize the opportunity to bring evidence-based public opinion policy solutions to the Gulf."

About the RAND Corporation

The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.