Our Expertise

We provide tailor-made services in four broad areas:

We conduct research that is scientifically rigorous yet accessible, practical to implement, and responsive to demanding timelines and political realities. We provide tailored technical assistance to implement data-driven and results-oriented practices that improve organizational performance. We offer training to build the knowledge and skills of staff at all levels. We offer in-depth training in fiscal planning for individuals who are responsible for developing, managing, or overseeing complex organizational budgets. We deliver education to nurture the next generation of public sector leaders and help them build successful, lasting careers in public service.

Our staff, advisors, and affiliates are experts in fiscal assessment and planning and in data collection and analysis—core aspects of running any public or private agency. Our team is also skilled in the design and implementation of impact evaluations and the development and use of performance indicators.

We work with:

  • State and local governments
  • Public benefit organizations
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Public charities
  • The private sector

We offer our clients expert advice and assistance and the ability to carry out projects on our clients’ behalf. But we are also dedicated to working with agencies to build their capacity internally—we don’t want our clients to be forever dependent on our skills and services.

In addition, we offer substantive expertise across a range of issues and topics. As an institute nested within CUNY and with ties to other universities, we have access to and ongoing relationships with leading experts in public policy and outstanding social science researchers. Moreover, we have the acumen to form trusting, fruitful partnerships between these experts and our clients—active practitioners and senior officials working in government and the nonprofit sector.

Fiscal Assessment and Planning

Our staff and advisors have decades of experience managing the finances of large, complex, and ever-changing organizations. As a result, we’re well equipped to conduct fiscal analyses for state and local governments, other public authorities, and nonprofit organizations operating in a variety of environments, informing both short- and long-term planning. In particular, we can help forecast future needs and expenditures and propose revenue structures capable of supporting increased demand for services, capital improvements, and other types of growth or, alternatively, help agencies downsize responsibly. We can also conduct sophisticated cost-benefit analyses to determine the bottom-line benefits of a particular service or program – weighing positive outcomes and their value against financial and other costs. In addition to providing advice and technical assistance in this key area of public administration, we offer in-depth training in fiscal management for employees of public and private agencies responsible for developing, managing or overseeing complex organizational budgets.

Data Collection and Analysis

The trend toward data-driven, results-oriented policies and practices is only accelerating, and many government agencies and nonprofit organizations are struggling to keep up. ISLG offers an array of services to put you on track and ahead. We can help you better mine and understand the data you’re already collecting. We can help you generate more useful reports that clearly explain statistical findings and connect them with policies and practices in ways that help you monitor and improve the performance of your agency. If your infrastructure needs improvement in this area, we can help you to build systems to generate the data you need, including sophisticated case management systems to track your own operations as well as systems and protocols to collect and analyze data from other sources. We can also help you recruit and train data analysts, providing on- and off-site oversight of data collection, analysis, and reporting until your staff can take on these tasks themselves.

Impact Evaluation

Both government and nonprofit leaders are facing increasing demand to measure the impact of the programs they operate. ISLG’s methodological experts tailor the specific research methods—whether quantitative, qualitative, or mixed—to the particular project while also considering your budget and timeline, the availability of data, and the political environment in which you’re operating. We can help you evaluate and refine an existing program. We can build rigorous evaluation into the plans for a new program and implement both process and outcome studies. We can even conduct research geared specifically to helping you design new programs that are more likely to produce the desired results.

Performance Indicators

Indicators are proxy measures commonly used to assess progress towards higher order goals such as equality, transparency and accountability, good governance, access to services and fairness. (Learn about our work developing equality indicators for use nationally.) But indicators can also be used to monitor performance at a lower level by tracking specific outputs and outcomes associated with a particular program or system. Our staff have developed and implemented indicators in the United States and internationally. Drawing on that vast experience, we can help you design an approach, or framework, for using performance indicators, craft specific indicators, “populate” them with appropriate data; and guide how you report and otherwise use the indicators to communicate trends in performance both internally and externally. In this area of our work, in particular, we’re committed to helping our clients build the capacity internally, through training and technical assistance, to use and potentially refine the set of indicators we help them develop.

Philanthropic Planning and Advisory Services

For individuals, private foundations, or corporations seeking to invest funds across sectors, we provide strategic planning, advisory, administrative, and grants management support. We can provide full, back-office support—including financial and legal services, conducting due diligence, and communications—or individualized services as needed. We work in partnership with the CUNY Research Foundation, which manages more than $400 million annually.

Our Issues

The following is just a sample of topics and issues on which we have expertise. Please contact us if you’d like to explore working with us in a different substantive area.

Mental health and services for the mentally ill.

Our expertise and capacity to conduct research and provide technical assistance in this area is broad and includes screening and assessment for mental illness and intellectual disability, including identification of symptoms, using reliable and valid measures; understanding the distribution and determinants of psychiatric illnesses and intellectual disabilities; and building the institutional capacity to provide better treatment and support to people with a mental illness.

Overlap between the criminal justice and mental health systems.

For decades the criminal justice system has been a de facto dumping ground for individuals with a mental illness and/or intellectual disability. As the flow of people into city jails has increased, especially in recent years, a wide array of stakeholders are calling for change. We provide expert research, technical assistance and training to help the criminal justice and public health systems work together to identify and diagnose people with a mental illness or impairment and divert them away from the criminal justice system and into community-based programs. Our work in this area includes in-depth training for public defenders and social workers to improve legal representation and ancillary services for criminal defendants with a mental illness or developmental disorder. Learn about our work with officials in New York City to stem the flow of mentally ill people into city jails.


Our Executive Director Michael Jacobson has more than 20 years of experience in this fast-changing field where the appetite for reform is perhaps greater today than ever before. We can help state and local corrections administrators and their partners working outside government reform correctional systems in ways that improve conditions, decrease overcrowding, and save money. Specifically, we can help you design and implement data-informed strategies to both downsize and improve institutional and community corrections systems; explore budget saving and investment opportunities, such as pay for success/social impact bond initiatives; and evaluate the outcomes of changes in policy and practice.

Prosecutorial discretion.

Although prosecutors are vital players in the criminal justice system, with considerable discretion, they rarely have data systems in place to inform and monitor their decisions and evaluate their performance across cases. Drawing on our experience working with District Attorneys, we can help you to improve data systems to monitor and report performance in ways that work for your office and that, ultimately, provide a way to measure whether your policies and actual practices are both fair and effective.