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The large number of municipal governments in Allegheny County is a derivative of Pennsylvania’s governance structure and history. This structure provides for strong representation at the local government level. The anticipated benefit of this structure is a greater sense of local “ownership,” encouraging local government to be responsive to constituent demands. However, local representation also includes government fragmentation, with potential costs in the form of inefficiency and conflicting intercommunity goals. The RAND Corporation was asked to begin to explore and create a framework for studying the effects of Pennsylvania’s locally dominated governance structure on regional performance and to identify potential lessons for Allegheny County from the experiences of other regions. Drawing from the literature, case studies, and local economic data sets, the authors investigated the empirical validity of two questions to understand whether they are worth pursuing in greater depth: Does multiplicity of local governance create inefficiencies in the cost, coverage, and quality of delivered services? Does this multiplicity inhibit timely and comprehensive decisionmaking for regional economic development? The authors conclude that the challenge facing the region is to assess whether a new vision for local governance can define a structure that provides efficient services, balances resources equitably, and positions the region to compete in the global market.

The research described in this report was conducted for the Heinz Endowments by RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE), a unit of the RAND Corporation.

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