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California Department of Finance

Summer 2013 FellowEmily Kohn

Faculty MentorBruce Owen

Professor Owen is the Gordon Cain Senior Fellow at SIEPR, Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor in Public Policy and director of the Stanford Public Policy Program. Professor Owen has also worked as the chief economist of the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Faculty website:

Office Description:

The Department of Finance is the Governor’s chief fiscal advisor. It assists the Governor in preparing the annual state budget and is generally involved in all issues that have a significant fiscal impact on the state.  It acts to ensure that public resources are spent responsibly and effectively. Additionally, the Director of Finance (or designee) sits on numerous boards and commissions, which directly affect a broad array of state activities.

Office Website:

Potential Projects:

The fellow will be located in the Sacramento Capitol Building in the Department’s Capitol Office, which houses the Director and the Department’s executive staff.

The projects will depend on the needs of the department but will be timely and relevant in helping to solve the state’s fiscal challenges. They will likely be a mix of short-term (hours or days) and longer-term (several weeks) projects. Specific projects will be determined based on the fellow’s policy interests and the needs of the office. Work could include researching and preparing memos on policy options, responding to the Governor’s requests for information, comparing California to other states on particular policies, analyzing legislation, tracking the implementation of budget decisions, and preparing briefings on major developments or published reports.

A bonus of this placement is that the Director of the Department of Finance is a Stanford alumni. The fellow will have the opportunity to shadow the Director (class of ‘95) to get a broad sense of the role of the Department of Finance and how state government works.

Desired Personal Qualities, Skills, and Experience:

  • Inquisitive mind with an aptitude for critical thinking and problem solving
  • Ability to work independently, but know when to seek direction
  • Interest and/or experience in public service and improving government
  • Ability to work calmly in a fast-paced environment

Main Fellowship Disciplines:

  • Public Policy
  • Economics
  • Political Science