My current research agenda involves a few projects in comparative state government, public policy, and nonprofit management.
At this time, the primary focus of my research is in state environmental policy; my coauthor (Roy Dawes) and I recently resurrected our comparative state environmental policy research to revisit our earlier and rather well-received research on environmental conditions in the American states. This research extends our previous work to assess states’ proclivity (or lack thereof) to embrace and enforce regulations that largely determine environmental quality and equity across U.S. states. We have collected much of these data and are planning a systematic approach for analyzing it (which at this time includes approximately 100 variables for each state). We presented preliminary research on this work at the Southern Political Science Association. Right now, we are refining a measure of regulatory performance, what we are referring to as a "regulatory performance index" (RPI), to replace the common dependent variables used in most earlier comparative state environmental research (but no longer exist, e.g., FREE Index and Green Index). Successfully defining regulatory performance permits us to construct a viable measure comprising regulatory responsibility, stringency, and enforcement aspects of state environmental effort. We are in the process of validating this variable construct and mapping out future papers based on various subcategories of the data we have amassed.
In addition to this project, I am also currently involved in a few research projects at various stages of completion; these include:
Tobacco Cessation Among Special Populations (w/ Christopher Diaz);
Perceptions of Philanthropy (w/ V. Edwards);
Establishing Indicators to Evaluate the Choice Neighborhood Program (w/ M Wallace);
An Institutional Approach to Understanding Neighborhood Efficacy in Urban Communities (w/ M. Craw) and,
Evaluating Local Government Service Delivery Responsiveness.
As my research focus changed somewhat after becoming director of a public service institute to include applied, community-based research, much of my recent research is in the form of technical reports. These research projects typically involved overseeing and preparing technical reports based on projects conducted for government and nonprofit agencies. These projects served many different clients and included a variety of topics, e.g., public housing, recycling, municipal services assessment, nonprofit organizational assessment, quality of life indicators, community health assessment, disaster preparedness, broadband service, water services, public transportation, library services, social media policies, early childhood education, open government, public schools, public safety, and economic/community development.
As the director of the Institute of Government, I was active in cultivating relationships with individuals leading government and nonprofit organizations for the our consulting, research, and technical assistance division (referred to as “outreach division”). Under my stewardship, we made tremendous strides improving the Institute’s acquisition of grants and contracts. From my arrival in 2011 to the news of the Institute's demise in early 2014, I secured approximately $225,000 in new contracts and grants in these few years (compared to a cumulative total of $275,000 for the 10 years prior to my arrival).
These contracts also benefited several graduate students through graduate assistantships. Through contracts awards, we were able to fund an additional five graduate assistants during that time period. Prior to my arrival at UALR, I had enjoyed modest success with grants and contracts, with my greatest achievement being a substantial EPA award to study urban brownfield redevelopment outcomes.