The Collins Center – GAP and Finance-Related Analytics Projects


Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management pic
Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management

Having worked with a number of city governments, Stephen Lisauskas serves as the vice president of government affairs and the regional vice president of municipal partnerships at WasteZero. Stephen Lisauskas also helps cities improve their operations and financial management strategies as a senior associate with the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Through its Government Analytics Program (GAP), the Collins Center helps governments implement best practices by collecting and applying data during short-term and year-long projects. GAP conducts a number of finance-related analytics projects, including projects focused on budget document development and improvement. According to the Collins Center, the budget document is the most significant policy document a government maintains, so GAP enhances the budget document and updates the budget process based on best practices established by the Government Finance Officers Association.

GAP also develops capital improvement plans, multi-year plans that guide the purchase and maintenance of publicly owned assets. During these projects, GAP works closely with government officials to assess resources, prioritize projects, and evaluate different funding mechanisms.


Report Helps Swampscott Improve Services

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As an experienced budget strategist and public administrator, Stephen Lisauskas serves as the Vice President of Government Affairs and Regional Vice President of Municipal Partnerships at WasteZero. Stephen Lisauskas also serves as a Senior Associate at the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The Collins Center recently created a report for the town of Swampscott, Massachusetts, which commissioned it in early 2015 after learning how the Collins Center helped nearby Salem. According to an article in the Salem News, the Collins Center report outlines ways in which Swampscott’s government can operate with more accountability and deliver services more efficiently.

To generate the report, the Collins Center conducted an expansive study of the town’s departments and fiscal 2014 figures. The study discovered that Swampscott was spending more on education, police, human services, fire, fixed costs, and debt service per capita compared to other municipalities. With this information, the Collins Center was able to suggest new and more effective ways, from consolidation to regionalization, for Swampscott to deliver town services.

The Collins Center Offers City Help with Capital Improvement Plan

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With background in financial management and cost-saving solutions, Stephen Lisauskas serves as the Vice President of Government Affairs and the Regional Vice President of Municipal Partnerships at WasteZero. Stephen Lisauskas also leverages his experience in public administration to serve as a Senior Associate at the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

According to a recent news release, the Collins Center has partnered with the City of Marlborough to help the city identify and prioritize long-term initiatives that will advance a broad capital improvement plan. The partnership was formed after Marlborough received a $30,000 state grant through the Community Compact program to implement best practices and establish a multiyear capital improvement strategy.

Marlborough partnered with the Collins Center on the grant program because the center has experience helping municipalities develop planning initiatives and capital plans. In the early stages of the program, representatives from the Collins Center will work with city department heads to learn more about the City’s priorities and objectives, which will allow them to develop potential capital improvements. The capital improvement plan is expected to be completed by July of 2016.

WasteZero Programs Lead to Cost Savings in Brewer, Maine

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For more than five years, Stephen Lisauskas has served as a Senior Associate at the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Stephen Lisauskas balances this role with his responsibilities as the Vice President of Government Affairs and the Regional Vice President of Municipal Partnerships at WasteZero.

Committed to halving the amount of trash in America, WasteZero helps implement cutting-edge waste reduction programs in communities across the country, including the city of Brewer, Maine. WasteZero helped Brewer establish a pay-as-you-throw program in 2011 to decrease the amount of trash transported to a facility in another town.

Over the past five years, these programs have saved Brewer $370,000 by significantly increasing recycling rates and decreasing the tonnage of solid waste collected. Brewer reports that the WasteZero programs led to an almost six-fold increase in recycling rates and cut the amount of curbside waste collected by 50 percent. According to a representative from WasteZero, the programs are successful in part because they improve consumers’ awareness about the cost of trash.

The Detroit Municipal Bankruptcy

Detroit Municipal Bankruptcy  pic
Detroit Municipal Bankruptcy

Stephen Lisauskas has spent his career helping municipalities avoid bankruptcy and reorganizing local government to increase efficiency. In his work helping to turn around the finances of municipalities such as Springfield Massachusetts, Stephen Lisauskas has managed to help communities avoid bankruptcy. However, there are municipalities across the United States that have not managed to avoid declaring bankruptcy; Detroit filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

The right of a municipal government to file bankruptcy only applies to those municipal governments authorized by their state to file for bankruptcy. This authorization may come from a specific state laws, or by an officer of the government specifically empowered to determine whether a municipality may declare bankruptcy. Since 1937 there have been 665 municipal bankruptcies, of these 51 have occurred since 2010. This marked increase in the rate of municipal bankruptcies may be attributed to the increase in unfunded liabilities, especially pension liabilities, and the economic recession. Detroit is by far the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history with an estimated debt of $18-20 billion.

Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18th, 2013 after it became clear that the city was insolvent, with nearly a third of its outgoing payments to pensions. While the city was initially ruled ineligible to declare bankruptcy by a Michigan court, this decision was reversed in October. The Detroit bankruptcy is expected to result in a $7 billion loss to its creditors.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards for Public Finance Officials

Distinguished Budget Presentation Award pic
Distinguished Budget Presentation Award

In his work as an associate with University of Massachusetts’ Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management, Stephen Lisauskas works with municipalities in financial distress with a view to reforming municipal systems for maximum efficiency. For example, as executive director of the Springfield, Massachusetts Finance Control Board, Stephen Lisauskas increased energy efficiency of municipal buildings. While this program costs $1.1 million in debt service per year to maintain, it saves the government $1.17 million worth of wasted energy, a benefit set to increase as energy costs increase. His work on the Springfield Finance Board earned Mr. Lisauskas a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.

Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards are presented by the Government Finance Officers Association, which includes American and Canadian public finance officials. Established in 1984, the awards aim at promoting and recognizing excellent public finance documents. In order to be eligible, budgets need to be available to the public either in hard-copy format or online. Winners of the award must have well-organized budgets that present both the financial and non-financial goals and also thoroughly explain the financing and budget schedule.

Stephen Lisauskas: The Unique Jujitsu Practices of the International Seirenkai Organization

International Seirenkai Organization pic
International Seirenkai Organization

A fifth-degree black belt, municipal finance expert Stephen Lisauskas serves as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the International Seirenkai Organization, or ISO. Founded in 2008, the Connecticut-based organization works to advance several martial arts traditions of karate, jujitsu, and kobudo, which focuses on the skillful use of Okinawan weapons. Through all of its practices, the ISO seeks to improve the physical health of its members while promoting self-confidence, leadership, and responsibility, as well as respect for others.

While many organizations teach competitive jujitsu, a traditional Japanese martial art, the ISO has developed its own unique form called Seirenkai Jujitsu. Unlike other approaches to the art, Seirenkai Jujitsu is wholly practical in its philosophy and design, and its sole goal is self-defense. As a result, the form focuses on a variety of defensive maneuvers, including throws, grappling, and pressure point techniques. Practitioners also master strikes, punches, kicks, and blocks.