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This article focuses on two mayoral-led public-private partnerships designed to renew good government in Cleveland — Mayor George Voinovich’s Operations Improvement Task Force (OITF) (1979-1982) and Mayor Frank Jackson’s Operations Efficiency Task Force (OETF) (2006-2009). The Voinovich OITF public-private partnership enabled Cleveland to “come back” after the city’s 1978 default. The Jackson OETF public-private partnership successfully rightsized Cleveland in relationship to its much smaller population needs during challenging economic times without disruptions in service. The authors use three data sources, including interviews with both mayors and their key partnership managers, to gain a complete inside picture of each mayoral-led public-private partnership. The article concludes with the lessons learned and the governance implications of a mayoral-led public-private partnership in fostering long-term (transformative) administrative change. This article shows how both mayoral-led public-private partnerships quietly transformed Cleveland’s government to meet the demands of fewer resources, greater complexity, more transparency, and more timely decisions in the delivery of public services to citizens.


This paper is a revision of an invited research presentation delivered at the conference, “Public Private Partnerships: Solving Public Problems through Partnerships between Government, Business and Nonprofits.” This conference was held at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs of Cleveland State University on August 15, 2014.