Public policy expert
Despite spending billions of dollars on government social programs over many decades, we have made insufficient progress in discovering and implementing interventions that can ameliorate social ills. Jeffrey Liebman believes that we need to find new ways for government to work with social service providers to accelerate social innovation.
Liebman, who teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, is an expert in public policy and economics and has been providing pro bono assistance to state governments that are implementing pay for success contracts using social impact bonds. In a pay for success contract, the government agrees to pay service providers only if they succeed in achieving performance goals such as reducing recidivism, ending homelessness, or increasing the earnings of high school dropouts. In a new financial instrument called a social impact bond, private investors give the service providers operating capital and absorb some of the performance risk in exchange for investment returns if the performance objectives are achieved.
Liebman has argued that social impact bonds have the potential to improve the performance of government social spending, save taxpayers money, increase investments in preventive services, and accelerate learning about what works and what doesn’t.
Liebman teaches courses in social policy, public sector economics, and American economic policy. He served at the Office of Management and Budget during the first two years of the Obama administration, and was also a special assistant to President Clinton.