Kurt M. Thurmaier
Kurt Thurmaier is Distinguished Engagement Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Administration. He was elected a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow in 2018, and is a member of the Standing Panel on Intergovernmental Systems and the Africa Working Group.
He received his B.A. and M.P.P.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. from the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He joined the NIU Public Administration faculty in 2006. His previous positions include assistant and associate professor positions at the University of Kansas (1990-2002) before becoming MPA director at Iowa State University ( 2002-2006). He has served as chair of the Department of Public Administration at NIU since 2009.
His research and teaching interests include budgetary decision making at the local and state levels in the U.S. and other countries, comparative public administration (especially fiscal decentralization) and intergovernmental relations (especially interlocal collaboration). His current research studies citizen participation in county budgeting in Kenya and the lessons those counties can provide US local governments. Underway since 2016, this research project has helped him develop an Engaged Budgeting Model to strengthen democratic accountability and improve allocative efficiency. Thurmaier also continues research about intergovernmental and intersectoral collaborations of local governments in the US. This research builds on previous work about city-county consolidations and interlocal agreements in the US. Consulting with local governments about shared services increases data collection on the topic.
He leads a month-long study abroad course for graduate and undergraduate students to Musoma, Tanzania every other year to study the role of NGOs in developing countries. He has served as a consultant and researcher with ICMA, HIID and several local governments. He is a lifetime member of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), and has served as chair of the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM). He is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association (including the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association), the International City/County Management Association (including the Illinois and Wisconsin associations) and has served as chapter president at KU, Iowa State and NIU in their chapters of Phi Beta Delta, The National Honor Society for International Studies.
Areas of Expertise
- Public budgeting
- Citizen engagement
- Local government collaboration
- Intersectoral collaboration
- Public management networks
- Intergovernmental relations
- Comparative public administration
Dwight Ink and Kurt Thurmaier, Getting Things Done with Courage and Conviction: Successful Management Strategies Serving Seven U.S. Presidents, Melvin and Leigh Press, 2018.
Kurt Thurmaier, ed. Alternative Service Delivery: Readiness Check, ICMA Press (EBook), 2014.
Jack Meek and Kurt Thurmaier, eds., Networked Governance: The Future of Intergovernmental Management, CQ Press, 2011.
Suzanne Leland and Kurt Thurmaier, eds, Case Studies in City-County Consolidation: Promises Made, Promises Kept? Georgetown University Press, 2010.
Suzanne Leland and Kurt Thurmaier, eds, Reshaping the Local Government Landscape: Case Studies of Local Government Consolidation, M.E. Sharpe, 2004.
Kurt Thurmaier and Katherine Willoughby, Policy and Politics in State Budgeting, M.E. Sharpe, 2001.
David Mitchell and Kurt Thurmaier, "(Re)Defining the Disarticulated Municipality: Budget Accountability for Networked Governance," Public Budgeting and Finance 36(1) 2016: 47-67.
Suzanne Leland and Kurt Thurmaier, "Political and Functional Local Government Consolidation: The Challenges for Core Public Administration Values and Regional Reform," American Review of Public Administration 44 (4) 2014: 29S-46S.
David Mitchell and Kurt Thurmaier, "Currents and Undercurrents in Budgeting Theory: Exploring the swirls, heading upstream," Foundations of Public Administration Series, Public Administration Review, online, www.aspanet.org, 2012.
Michael Peddle and Kurt Thurmaier, "Reformulating and Refocusing a Fiscal Administration Curriculum," Journal of Public Administration Education (JPAE) 17(4) 2011: 523-42.
Shannon Sohl, Curt Wood, Michael Peddle, Gregory Kuhn and Kurt Thurmaier, "Measuring Financial Position of Municipalities: Numbers Don't Speak for Themselves," Public Budgeting & Finance 29(3) 2009: 74-96.
Yu-Che Chen and Kurt Thurmaier, "Interlocal Agreements as Collaborations: An Empirical Investigation of Impetuses, Norms, and Success," American Review of Public Administration 39(5) 2009: 536-552.
Yu-Che Chen and Kurt Thurmaier, "Financing eGovernment Business Transactions: An Enterprise Pricing Framework for G2B Services," Public Administration Review 68(3) 2008: 537-548.
Kurt Thurmaier, "High Intensity Interlocal Collaboration in Three Cities," Public Administration Review 66(Supplement 1) 2006: 144-146.
Suzanne Leland and Kurt Thurmaier, "Frame the Consolidation Debate with a Sound Argument: A Reply to a Response," Public Administration Review 66(2), March 2006: 279-280.
Kurt Thurmaier, Alfred Ho and Lilly Lu, "Testing the Reluctant Professor's Hypothesis: Evaluating a Blended-Learning Approach to Distance Education," Journal of Public Administration Education 12(2006): 81-102.
Teaching Case: When Silence is Not Golden, developed for an Introduction to Public Administration course, published on the Electronic Hallway, 2006, www.hallway.org.
Suzanne Leland and Kurt Thurmaier, "When Efficiency is Unbelievable: Normative Lessons from 30 Years of City-County Consolidations," Public Administration Review 65(4) 2005: 475-489.
Frankline Muthomi and Kurt Thurmaier, 2019. "Performance Budgeting in Kenya: Challenges of Institutional Change & Communication Processes," in Ho, Alfred T., Maarten de Jong, and Zaozao Zhao (Eds.) Performance Budgeting Reform: Theory and International Practice. New York: Routledge.
Kurt Thurmaier, 2010. "Comments on ‘Reaching and maintaining structural balance: leaders in the states' and ‘Fiscal limitations on local choice: the imposition and effects of local government tax and expenditure limitations'" in State and Local Fiscal Policy: Thinking Outside the Box? Ed by Sally Wallace, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Hellmut Wollmann and Kurt Thurmaier, "Local government institutions and the New Public Management," in Oxford Handbook of Urban Politics, edited by Karen Mossberger, Susan E. Clarke, and Peter John, 2012.
Current Research Projects
Current research studies citizen participation in county budgeting in Kenya and the lessons those counties can provide US local governments. Underway since 2016, this research project has helped develop an Engaged Budgeting Model to strengthen democratic accountability and improve allocative efficiency in local government budgeting. Another project explores intergovernmental and intersectoral collaborations of local governments in the US. This research builds on previous work about city-county consolidations and interlocal agreements in the US. Consulting with local governments about shared services increases data collection on the topic.
Principal investigator and editor, Alternative Service Delivery: Readiness Check. The book presents academic research on each modality, then analysis of data gleaned from focus groups of local government officials, appointed and elected. The book chapters then synthesize the systematic findings from the academic research with the praxis of communities that have actually considered and implemented each of the ASD options. The handbook chapters will be structured to conclude with lessons learned and a timeline for developing the alternative service delivery system. The concluding chapter will examine the key features (impetus, economic and political considerations and lessons) across the array of options. There will be an extensive bibliography for both academic and practitioner readers. Funded by HR Green, services contract, 2012-13: $52,325.
Robert Gleeson, Kurt Thurmaier and Norman Walzer. US Economic Development Agency. $445,000. Automotive Industry Adjustment Initiative for Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois (FY11 grant advance account number G6A63994), awarded November 2010 for implementation in 2011-2013.
Andrew Otieno and Kurt Thurmaier (Co-PIs), $12,175. "Infusing Green Technologies through NIU's Global Outreach Initiatives: Nyegina Secondary, School Solar Energy Project," Venture Grant funded by the NIU Foundation.
Shannon Sohl, Curt Wood, Michael Peddle, Gregory Kuhn, and Kurt Thurmaier, Comparative Fiscal Profile Analysis, Technical report prepared for the Peoria, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, November 2007 (Center for Governmental Studies, Services Contract).
Kurt Thurmaier and Yu-Che Chen(Co-Principal Investigators), $131,000. "Building a Citizen-Accessible Information System for Managing Iowa's Local Government Networks and Interlocal (28e) Agreements." Funded by IowAccess Council, Information Technology Enterprise, Iowa Department of Administrative Services. This project built a citizen-accessible eGovernment information management system to strengthen existing and future collaboration between local government units in the area of critical infrastructure protection and service sharing. This information system allows citizens, local elected officials and local public managers to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of government services to citizens by learning about effective interlocal (28e) agreements used in Iowa's communities.
Yu-Che Chen and Kurt Thurmaier (Co-Principal Investigators), "eGovernment Policy Analysis." $114,000, funded by IowAccess Council, Information Technology Enterprise, Iowa Department of Administrative Services. The project determined the current and future demands for eGovernment services, and generated policy reports on the provision and financing of eGovernment services to meet the demands of both citizens and businesses.
Ricardo Morse and Kurt Thurmaier (Co-Principal Investigators), "The Olive Tree Project: Searching for models of community." $63,800, funded by the Iowa Innovation Fund. The project helped communities identify core community values and services essential to preserving community identity. This process provided a basis for communities to explore options for collaboration in the delivery of public services as well as regional approaches to community and economic development. Local governments were empowered to seek ways to increase effectiveness and efficiency while preserving community identity. The project team worked with two pilot counties in Iowa.