Changing the way our political institutions are governed.

The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy is a driving force for public policy based not on ideology, politics, or pedigree, but on rigorous analysis and evidence. At the Center for Effective Government, scholars, practitioners, and students investigate local and national reform efforts that are intended to change the way our political institutions are governed.

The Center for Effective Government is home to the Civic Leadership Academy and activities previously run through the Project on Political Reform.

A Hub for Reform

The Center for Effective Government bridges the gap between research and policy by concentrating its work in three main areas:

Leadership development: Through its leadership development initiatives and training sessions, the Center produces a pipeline of effective civic leaders and reformers.

Research: The Center supports original research and scholarly conferences that examine the operations of existing political institutions and what can be done to improve them.

Public events: The Center hosts a wide range of public events that connect scholars, political practitioners, and students.

Why We Need Better Government

Our politics are broken. Today’s governing institutions intermittently impede and distort promising efforts to address policy challenges that stand before us. And too often, the individuals who work within these institutions lack the incentives or leadership skills needed to make a difference. The result:

Lack of meaningful action: Our government regularly fails to take meaningful action on problems like climate change, rising inequality, debt, immigration, and entitlements that broad segments of the American public expect to see addressed, that are the subject of serious program evaluation, and that will grow more acute over time.

Ineffective policy: Even when the government does act, it often produces policies that lack coherence, do not incorporate best practices, and are ineffective.

Public distrust: The result of the government's inaction and ineffective policies is a rise of costly and seemingly intractable problems; and with them, burgeoning public distrust in government, anger, disaffection, and skepticism of democratic norms and practices.


The Center's activity and expertise reaches local, state, and national audiences, raising the profile of pressing government reform issues and potential solutions.

The Center leverages the School’s longstanding commitment to analytically rigorous scholarship towards tangible improvements in government and the restoration of public trust in democracy.

Leadership Team

  • William Howell, Director
  • Sadia Sindhu, Executive Director
  • Marc Farinella, Senior Advisor for Strategy and External Relations

See the entire Center for Effective Government team.

Contact Us

Email Sadia Sindhu to get involved and learn more about the Center for Effective Government.

William Howell

Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics

William Howell

William Howell has written widely on separation-of-powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency. He currently is working on research projects on Obama's education initiatives, distributive politics, and the normative foundations of executive power.