Dr. Patricia Atkins

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GWIPP Research: Patricia Atkins

This page features research funded through GWIPP and performed by Patricia Atkins.

Title: Property Tax in Fifty States: State Property Tax Policy Roundtable; Compendium of State Property Tax Regimes

Funding: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Start Date: July 2006

Category: State and Local Fiscal Policy

Status: Current

Summary: This two-part project is a collaborative multi-year undertaking by Lincoln and GWIPP to promote research in the areas of property tax policy and administration. As a follow-up to the 2005-06 pilot project, a data collection team is compiling and classifying a wide range of material that characterizes property tax structures and processes in all fifty states to produce a "Compendium of State Property Tax Regimes." The compendium will be available as a data set, and researchers will be able to perform simple queries through an interactive web site. Key results will be presented in a series of tables, patterned after the biennial Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism , produced by the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) through 1994. Plans are being made to update the compendium annually.

Under the contract, GWIPP will produce the following research papers: A Calculation of Effective Tax Rates; A Broad-Based Property Tax: Calculations and Implications; A Broad-Based Property Tax: Calculations and Implications; Tax and Expenditure Limitations (TELs) and Their Impact; The Increasing Use of Preferential Assessments to Subsidize Specific Land Uses.

A State Property Tax Policy Roundtable will be scheduled for Fall 2007 in Washington, DC. Papers written by GWIPP research faculty will be supplemented by several commissioned papers, focusing on the topic “Erosion of the Local Property Tax Base: Trends and Consequences.”

Title: Regional Economic Resilience (click for more on the Building Resilient Region Network)

Funding: MacArthur Foundation (through the University of California-Berkeley)

Researcher(s): Hal Wolman, Patricia Atkins, Sarah Ficenec, and Travis St. Clair

Start Date: June 2008

Status: Current

Category: Economic and Industrial Development Policy Studies, Urban Policy, Economic and Industrial Policy

Summary:  As part of the MacArthur Foundation’s project on regional resilience, the primary goals of our study are to identify through rigorous quantitative analysis economically resilient and economically non-resilient regions, to explore the differences between the two (why are some resilient and others not), and to come to some conclusions about the way in which regional economies can become more resilient.  In particular we are examining whether regions that have experienced negative economic shocks recover and, if so, how. We are also exploring through a set of intensive case studies the role of economic agency (private sector decision making in markets, hierarchies, and networks) and public policy, planning, and politics, in that process.


"Exploring Regional Economic Resilience." Ned Hill (Cleveland State University), Howard Wial (Brookings Institution), and Hal Wolman, April 2007. Paper presented at the annual meeting of The Urban Affairs Association, April 2008.

Working Paper 040 - Economic Shocks and Regional Economic Resilience. Edward Hill, Travis St. Clair, Howard Wial, Hal Wolman, Pat Atkins, Pamela Blumenthal, Sarah Ficenec, Alec Friedhoff, for Brookings, George Washington University, Urban Institute, Building Resilient Region Project conference on Urban and Regional Policy and Its Effects: Building Resilient Regions. Washington, DC, May 20-21, 2010.

Working Paper 043- Building Regional Economic Resilience: What Can We Learn from Other Fields. Sarah V. Ficenec. George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP). Draft December, 2010.

Working Paper 045- Building Economic Development Networks in Detroit: A Comparison of Methods of Social Network Analysis. Sarah Ficenec. George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP). Draft April, 2010.

Title: The Effect of State Policy on Urban Performance

Funding: The Fannie Mae Foundation

Researcher(s): Hal Wolman, Kimberly Furdell (GWIPP), and Ned Hill (Cleveland State University).

Start Date: September 2004

Status: Completed

Category: Economic and Industrial Development Policy Studies

Summary: To what extent and how does state government policy affect the performance of major cities within the state on a wide variety of indicators of resident well-being? The project will proceed by first identifying cities that have performed well between 1990-2000 on each of a series of 20 indicators (e.g., change in poverty rate, unemployment rate, housing affordability, crime rate, etc.). It will then model performance on each of these indicators to identify cities that performed better than the model would have predicted. Case studies will then be conducted to assess whether this better than expected performance was due to state (or city) policies directed at the state’s cities.


Working Paper 016 - State Policy Effects on Urban Performance. Kimberly Furdell, Hal Wolman, Ned Hill, and Elaine Weiss, April 2005.

Working Paper 020 - Explaining City Performance: How Important is State Policy? Pamela Blumenthal, Kimberly Furdell, Elaine Weiss, and Hal Wolman, April 2006.

Working Paper 029 - What Explains Central City Performance? Hal Wolman, Ned Hill (Cleveland State University), Pat Atkins, Pamela Blumenthal, Kimberly Furdell, and Elaine Weiss, February 2007 (revised).

"States and Their Cities: Partnerships for the Future." Hal Wolman, Ned Hill, Patricia Atkins, Pamela Blumenthal, Leah Beth Curran, Kimberly Furdell, Jo Anne Schneider, and Elaine Weiss, 2007.

"State Policy Effects on Urban Performance." Kimberly Furdell, Hal Wolman, Ned Hill, and Elaine Weiss, April 2005. Paper presented at the annual meeting of The Urban Affairs Association, April 2008.

Title: What Happens After Manufacturing Jobs Disappear? Non-Manufacturing Alternatives for Industrial Regions

Researcher(s): Patricia Atkins, Hal Wolman, Nancy Y. Augustine, Leah Curran, Janet Stephens, Pamela Blumenthal, Howard Wial (Brookings Institution), and Alec Friedhoff (Brookings Institution)

Funding: Sloan Foundation

Start Date: November 2006

Status: Completed

Category: Economic and Industrial Development Policy Studies, Urban and Regional Policy

Summary: The continued loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is a well-known and well-studied phenomenon that continues to be a concern to business, labor, elected officials and policymakers at all levels of government, and researchers. Yet we know relatively little about what happens in places that have lost manufacturing jobs. Have other jobs filled the vacuum, or is there a net loss of employment? If other jobs have replaced manufacturing jobs, what sectors have they been in, and how do wages in sectors where jobs have been gained compare to wages in the manufacturing sectors where jobs have been lost? What steps have the public sector, business and other sectors taken to change the industry, technological, and/or product mix of the metropolitan area economy, and how effective have those steps been? The study will focus on U.S. metropolitan areas that had concentrations of manufacturing jobs above the national average in 1990 and that lost manufacturing jobs between 1990 and 2005. It will describe the patterns of manufacturing job loss and non-manufacturing job gain (or, in a few cases, loss) that occurred in these areas. Through a set of case studies of eight metropolitan areas, it will then examine various policies and strategies by which government, business, and/or civic institutions sought to replace lost manufacturing jobs with new jobs in non-manufacturing industries.


Regional Policies and Strategies for Replacing Lost Manufacturing Jobs. Harold Wolman and Howard Wial, May 2009.

Title: Fiscal Disparities among Local Governments in Metropolitan Areas: Their Extent and Causes

Funding: US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Researcher(s): Hal Wolman, Pat Atkins, Michael Bell, and Leah Curran

Start Date: August 2004

Status: Completed

Category: State and Local Fiscal Policy

Summary: The project explores the extent to which fiscal disparities exist among local jurisdictions within different kinds of metropolitan areas and why these disparities exist. We are particularly interested in the extent of fiscal disparities among suburban jurisdictions as well as between suburban jurisdictions and central cities. We calculate disparities among local governments in a small, regionally representative set of metropolitan areas. We also explore the characteristics of metropolitan areas that are associated with greater fiscal disparities. Finally, we will discuss the policy implications of these findings.


Working Paper 019 - Intrametropolitan Area Revenue Raising Disparities and Equities, Patricia Atkins, Leah Curran, Michael Bell, Harold Wolman, and Joseph Cordes, 2005.

Title: Feasibility Study of Restoring the Property Tax and its Fiscal Environment and Structure

Funding: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Start Date: August 2004

Category: State and Local Fiscal Policy

Status: Completed

Summary: A pilot project to explore the feasibility of a new annual publication, patterned after ACIR’s Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism, that would, at least partially, fill the void since it ceased publication. Prior to its demise in the mid-1990s, the US Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) published a widely used and acclaimed two volume annual report entitled Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism. The report was largely a compilation and organization of data on federal, state, and local revenues and expenditures, the institutional structure through which these fiscal flows occurred, and important changes in them. Significant Features has been sorely missed by both researchers and practitioners. No other publication has taken its place. If deemed feasible, the George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP) would then prepare a proposal for an annual version of such a report, to be funded and published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and disseminated jointly by Lincoln and GWIPP.

Title: State and Local Fiscal Systems Face the Future

Funding: National Association of Realtors

Researchers: Hal Wolman, David Brunori, Michael Bell, Pat Atkins, Joe Cordes, and Bing Juan

Start Date: July 2005

Status: Completed

Category: State and Local Fiscal Policy

Summary: The project will examine recent trends in state and local revenues and expenditures and the current condition of state and local finances. In particular, it will assess the likely impact of foreseeable or potential future economic, social, political and technological changes on state and local revenues and expenditures.


Working Paper 025 - State and Local Fiscal Trends and Future Threats, David Brunori, Michael E. Bell, Hal Wolman, Patricia Atkins, Joseph J. Cordes, and Bing Yuan, 2005.

Title: Thin the Soup or Shorten the Line: Choices Facing Washington Area Nonprofits

Funding: Fannie Mae Foundation

Researcher(s) Pat Atkins, Joe Cordes

Start Date: November 2003

Status: Completed

Category: Washington Area Studies

Summary: Research on the state of non-profit human services agencies in the Washington, D.C. region during changing economic conditions showed that non-profits are taking short term responses to their rising client need, their increasing costs, their expanded reporting requirements, and their sluggish revenue growth. Many have dipped into reserve funds, frozen salaries, reduced direct assistance, or initiated staff layoffs. Some responsive non-profit human services agencies have begun to make longer-term adjustments by restructuring their organizations to acquire new sources of revenue, expanding private donor campaign efforts, and initiating revenue sources that are more market-based. The report particularly focused on the fiscal contributions of local governments to the human services nonprofit sector, discovering a multitude of support processes unique to each of the six jurisdictions examined.


Patricia Atkins, Mallory Barg, Joseph Cordes, and Martha Ross. Thin the Soup or Shorten the Line: Washington Area Nonprofits Adapt to Uncertain Times. The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, August 2004.

Title: Managing Growth and Workforce Housing in Edge Counties

Funding: Fannie Mae Foundation

Start Date: June 2002

Category: Planning, Growth Management, and Sprawl

Status: Completed

Summary: Researcher(s) completed detailed interviews with the primary policy officials responsible for growth management and affordable workforce housing in 37 of the fastest growing counties, including county managers, county executives, and chief county planners. Conversations with these officials show that much of their work continues to occur within planning tools and laws developed before rapid growth began, and that this situation increases their work load and reduces their capacity to respond in a comprehensive and strategic manner. These rapidly growing areas – with an onslaught of governance, fiscal and commercial decisions on land use – overtake the available community resources able to be devoted to handling growth and ensuring adequate housing supply. While factors such as sufficient amounts of developable land clearly deflate the immediate magnitude of growth and housing problems, the few counties with cohesive urban management plans better deploy resources and prepare for their fast-growth future.


Atkins, Patricia. Managing Growth and Workforce Housing in Edge Counties: Findings of Fannie Mae Foundation Edge County Interviews. Conducted by Patricia Atkins, Jessica Jordan. and Hal Wolman. November 11, 2003.

Title: Greater Washington Region Information and Referral Scan
Funding: Community Capacity Fund of Washington Grantmakers
Start Date: March 2002

Title: A Baseline for a Shared Understanding of Information and Referral in the Greater Washington Region
Funding:  Community Capacity Fund of Washington Grantmakers
Start Date: October 2002

Title: Maximizing Collaboration Among 2-1-1 Systems in the Greater Washington Region
Funding:  Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington
Start Date: December 2002;
Products: 1) Atkins, P. Greater Washington Region Information and Referral Scan. April 19, 2002. 2) Atkins, P. A Baseline for a Shared Understanding of Information and Referral in the Greater Washington Region. November 14, 2002--Updated January 24, 2003. 3) Atkins, P. Maximizing Collaboration among 2-1-1 Systems in the Greater Washington Region. Submitted to Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington and the 2-1-1 Work Group. January 31, 2003.

Researcher (all): Pat Atkins

Category (all):  Washington Area Studies

Status (all): Completed

Summary:  The three-part research project was pegged to the imminent petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by separate information and referral (I &R) agencies in the District of Columbia, Suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia for use of the official FCC’s 2-1-1 designation in their own geographic areas, a three-digit dialing code reserved in 2000 by the FCC for community information and referral services.

The three National Capital Region jurisdictional areas were making decisions that could confer incompatible technologies, standards, data protocols, financing mechanisms, and the like, foreclosing the option of a single seamless 2-1-1 system for the Greater Washington region.  The events of September 11, 2001 at the site of the Pentagon attacks resolved among some members of the National Capital Region that a regional I & R was essential to public safety and well-being.  These three reports were borne of that resolve and the reports initiated the process which created that regional I & R 2-1-1 system, now on-line at .

The first report was a snapshot of information and referral (I & R) agency processes in the Greater Washington Region, and practices in other parts of the country as a counterpoint of comparison.  The primary function of I & R agencies is to connect people who need urgent or longer-term social services assistance, rather than emergency intervention or assistance (for which 9-1-1 is reserved), with those who can provide it.  The report identified many details on the characteristics of the I & R agencies, including details on their databases, the counseling staff, their geographic scope, their services provision, their legal status, the frequency of data replacement, and their user counts, among other features.  The second report surveyed sixteen of the larger nonprofit comprehensive I & R agencies in the Greater Washington region, selected for the survey based upon their common and unique set of characteristics.  Survey results showed differences in training, marketing, methods of staffing, call routing, operating hours, funding, taxonomy usage, tracking of calls, and telephone equipment, among in extensive review of features.  The third report recommended the organizational and political landscape that would need to be in place so that seamless regional 2-1-1 cooperation could move forward; and presented a detailed process that would enable policymakers to assist in that movement.  The regional organizational and political landscape would need a common vision, an administrative mechanism, a network for capacity-building, and a means for institution-building.  Twelve specific policy options related to these four broad needs were included in the third report.

Title: Regional Information Clearinghouse

Funding: National Association of Regional Councils

Start Date: September 2001

Category: Urban Policy

Status: Completed

Summary: This research expanded the Regional Information Clearinghouse (RIC), a national regional database created by the National Association of Regional Councils that partitions the entire United States into approximately 600 regions. The database appeared in 1998 with 21 Regional Quality of Life Indicators and other selected demographic indicators. The current work added the 2000 Census Short Form data and additional profiles for approximately 40 regions that overlap the 600-plus core regions. RIC enables a metropolitan or rural area to access regional data defined comparably across all regions, allowing them to answer questions such as how they compare to other regions on the selected data or to determine whether they are moving ahead or falling behind as compared to their peer regions.

Title: Measuring Progress in the Greater Washington Region: 2001 Potomac Index

Funding: Brookings Institution

Researcher(s): Pat Atkins, Hal Wolman

Start Date: May 2001

Status: Completed

Category: Washington Area Studies

Summary: America Online, Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Meyer Foundation, Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP. The 2001 Potomac Index charted the Washington region’s progress on a series of indicators grouped around five major themes. Research indicators show that the Greater Washington region has a strong economy, a highly educated population, and an extensive educational, philanthropic and nonprofit sector. It lags in performance on other indicators with a shortage of affordable housing, poor water quality in the Anacostia River, significant traffic congestion, poor air quality, and consumption of land in excess of population growth. A survey conducted for the Index showed that four out of five residents rate the region as an excellent, very good, or good place to live.


Atkins, Patricia & Wolman, Hal. "Education and Lifelong Learning." 2001 Potomac Index: Measuring Progress in the Greater Washington Region. Brookings Greater Washington Research Program.