Litmus is an interdisciplinary team that promotes innovation in the public sector. We work with public agencies across a range of policy issues to engage stakeholders, help identify and develop promising strategies, support constant process improvement, and foster organic innovation through ongoing iterative evaluation.

We create opportunities for research to be done with, rather than to, practitioners and the people they serve. We believe in the importance of people and place; we never adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to policies and practices.

Litmus changes the way knowledge is created in the public sector. We strive to nurture a culture of engagement and experimentation, empowering public agencies to test their own ideas in their own environments. In our efforts to support research and provide technical assistance, Litmus engages the experience, expertise, and initiative of our practitioner partners and their clients to help them identify and solve their own problems. We call this process “deliberative innovation,” and we apply the approach in all our work, including in our criminal justice efforts as “deliberative corrections.”

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Program Lead: Angela Hawken

Angela Hawken
Angela Hawken
Director / Litmus
Professor of Public Policy /

Angela Hawken, Ph.D., is a Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management and director of the Litmus program. She is the founder and director of BetaGov, a resource center for practitioner-led trials that provides tools to develop and conduct experimental tests of practices and policies in order to increase the pace of innovation in criminal-justice and other policy areas. She is also the founder and director of Segregation Solutions, which supports stakeholder-led innovation and research in reducing the use of solitary confinement. Additionally, she is the principal investigator of several studies that test “Swift Certain Fair” (SCF) strategies to reduce recidivism and incarceration; she led the advisory teams to the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) in its statewide rollout of Swift and Certain and to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) in its RESET parole-reform effort. She works with agencies in 14 states that are implementing and evaluating SCF in community corrections and in custody. Dr. Hawken completed a bachelor’s degree, an honors degree, and graduate coursework in economics at the University of the Witwatersrand, as well as a Ph.D. in policy analysis at the RAND Graduate School.