Our Work

The mission of the Cincinnati Research Institute is to enable citizens and elected officials to make public policy decisions that are based on sound data and objective facts. We are a non-partisan, non-profit think-tank serving the Greater Cincinnati region and beyond. Our goal is to elevate policymaking above talking points, sound-bites and politics.


Our interests extend beyond the City of Cincinnati, but we are currently focusing our attention on the effort to review and reform the Cincinnati Charter, the city’s municipal constitution. Passed as part of sweeping reforms in the 1920’s, Cincinnati’s Charter established a City Manager form of government that has been subsequently modified over the past several decades. The result has been piecemeal reforms that have produced unintended consequences.


The need for a holistic citizen-led Charter review has been discussed in Cincinnati for over a decade. In May 2014, Cincinnati City Council initiated the Charter Reform Task Force (CRTF) to review the Cincinnati Charter and provide potential reform recommendations. Some of their directive is to review and adjust archaic rules to better reflect our more technologically advanced world. Other directives aim at reformations to the Charter to better prepare our community and Cincinnati municipal government for future challenges. CRI welcomes this initiative and community conversation.


Unfortunately, despite the enormity of their task, the Charter Reform Task Force has no budget, no funding for research, or even accommodations for public forums. The Task Force believes, and Cincinnati Research Institute agrees, that the initiative demands public input. CRI also believes that it requires objective research to better inform the voters, the process and the outcome. Therefore, CRI, in collaboration with other community groups and institutions, has decided to offer financial and research support for this important initiative.


In addition to funding basic essential research and public forums, CRI is also hiring third-party professional research firms, legal experts, and major universities to conduct objective policy research regarding alternative forms of municipal governance and their impact. CRI is not advocating for particular outcomes from the Charter Review Task Force recommendations, but we believe that the recommendations should be made based, at least in part, on objective analysis of the successes and shortcomings that may be learned from other cities across the country. CRI studies published to date include:


“Governing Cincinnati: Considerations and Opportunities” is a study conducted by the North Carolina University at Chapel Hill School of government that compares basic, benchmark attributes of Cincinnati’s city government to peer cities across America:


CRI research regarding the use of “emergency” designation of ordinances in Cincinnati and throughout the State of Ohio:


CRI research regarding the use of “executive sessions” of City Council across the State of Ohio:


Moving forward, CRI will continue to help facilitate public engagement and provide research into regional, municipal, legal and community best practices. Our mission is to aid our region’s leaders and voters in their decision-making to ensure the best possible future for the greater Cincinnati region.