The Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG) was created in 2013 by the City University of New York.

Our Mission

Our mission is to work with government and non-government organizations to improve systems to produce better results that are worthy of public investment and trust.

We apply a data-driven approach to the challenges and opportunities confronting government.

We focus on government at the state and local levels, working both nationally and internationally, because we believe cities and states are ideal laboratories for developing new approaches to longstanding social problems.

We work with government agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, philanthropic institutions and the private sector to improve the structure, financing, delivery, measurement, and evaluation of vital public services.

Our Guiding Principles

Our work is guided by 4 principles:

Commitment to Integrity

We uphold the highest ethical and professional standards in our working relationships and pursue a non-partisan approach to finding solutions to the challenges facing government and non-government organizations.

Commitment to Data-Informed Decisions

Rigorous data analysis is the foundation of our work. We assess systems and diagnose operational deficiencies through careful analysis of existing data. We develop processes for collecting more and better data and analyzing it more completely. And we help our partners build capacity collect and analyze their own data. We also design, implement, and evaluate projects using empirical evidence about the process and outcomes.

Engaging in Relevant and Responsive Work

We’re driven to engage in work that is meaningful and relevant to both policymakers and the public. We’re also responsive to the demanding timelines and political realities within which our partners operate.

Commitment to Transparency and Accountability

We’re committed to publicly sharing information about our activities, our decision-making processes, our use of resources, and our research findings. We hold ourselves accountable for our performance—and we encourage these practices among our partners.


We are a small and nimble team led by founding Executive Director Michael Jacobson whose career in public service includes holding senior positions in the NYC Office of Management and Budget, serving as NYC Commissioner of Probation and later Corrections Commissioner, and running the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice. An active 10-member Advisory Board comprised of renowned professionals in government, academia and the private sector also provides expert guidance. The ISLG Board is chaired by Marc Shaw who has held numerous senior positions in government and the private sector and, like Michael, has particular expertise in fiscal analysis and understands the central role budgeting plays in the operations of any large and complex organization.