From the NY Times:
It has never been easy for a mayor to get things done in New York City, where every government proposal must navigate a thicket of community groups, policy boards, and empowered neighborhood gadflies who can blackball a project in a blink.
So the Bloomberg administration has taken a tack that could be called “do it first, answer questions later.” And the key to the strategy is to start small, and to use the word “pilot.”
Dozens of marquee administration projects, as broad as transforming the city streetscape with pedestrian plazas and bright green bike lanes or using new ways to train principals and encourage school attendance, have started as so-called pilot programs, ostensible experiments that are often exempt from the usual forms of city review.
The pilot has emerged as the mayor’s signature policy weapon. Admirers see an innovative way around red tape. Critics see a blunt tool that undermines democracy by minimizing the public’s role in scrutinizing the ideas of government.
Once a pilot is in place, there generally is no requirement for review in, say, a public hearing or a City Council committee, even if the pilot is expanded. Indeed, some pilots are expanded but never pronounced permanent, suggesting that they are still in the experimental stages.