IT Governance in the Public Sector – Journal of Management Information Systems

jmis_30_years_coverAn article I co-authored with Gregory S. Dawson (Arizona State University), James S. Denford (Royal Military College of Canada), Clay K. Williams (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), and David Preston (Texas Christian University) has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Management Information Systems.

An Examination of Effective IT Governance in the Public Sector Using the Legal View of Agency Theory

Abstract
In the private sector, research on IT governance has frequently applied the classical view of agency theory and focused on the controlling role played by the board of directors in constraining potentially opportunistic manager/agent. However, in the public sector, the board of directors does not exist and there may be less need to focus on the controlling aspect of governance and more need to focus on the politically challenging distribution of state resources. In this U.S. state-based study, we adopt, apply and extend the legal view of agency theory past its sole focus on the board of directors as the solitary mediating hierarch in order to examine the strategic mediating hierarch role played by the state legislature and then conceptualize and test for the existence of a tactical mediating hierarch played by the IT steering committee and the production role of an independent office of the chief information officer (OCIO) in using a fee-for-service funding model. We apply these concepts to extend theory to examine the combination of roles that lead to superior outcomes for the state (the principal) versus those necessary for the IT department (the agent). Our results show that by shifting from the control-oriented view of governance in the private sector to a more mediating view in the public sector, important practices may be portable between the public and private sector, despite their widely differing structures.

Salzburg Global Forum on the Future of Public Service

sgf Heading to Salzburg, Austria to spend a few days at the Schloss Leopoldskron to discuss the Future of Public Service hosted by the Salzburg Global Forum. For more details, please see here.

Familiar public services and institutions are in the early stage of radical renewal that may render them unrecognizable by 2050. New technologies and societal transformation are reconfiguring the interdependent world at unprecedented speed. New concepts and demands for more flexible and dynamic public service are emerging at all levels, from 'megapolitan' cities to supranational organizations.

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Predictive Analytics and Higher Education

SO16ERcoverAn article I co-authored with Kendra Smith appears in the September/October Issue of EDUCASE Review. The article was the cover feature for the issue. You can access the article here.

Predictive Analytics: Nudging, Shoving, and Smacking Behaviors in Higher Education

With predictive analytics, colleges and universities are able to “nudge” individuals toward making better decisions and exercising rational behavior to enhance their probabilities of success.

Facebook and the 2016 US Elections

Over the last few months, I have been working with my research team on several papers that examine how the 2016 US Elections are playing out on Facebook. We have several research notes on our project published on Brookings Institution TechTank Blog.

We also have a paper accepted at the 2016 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining.

Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook and Twitter, are important spaces for political engagement. SNS have become common elements in political participation, campaigns, and elections. However, little is known about the dynamics between candidate posts and commentator sentiment in response to those posts on SNS. This study enriches computational political science by studying the 2016 U.S. elections and how candidates and commentators engage on Facebook. This paper also examines how online activity might be connected to offline activity and vice versa. We extracted 9,700 Facebook posts by five presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich) from their official Facebook pages and 12,050,595 comments on those posts. We employed topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and trends detection using wavelet transforms to discover topics, trends, and reactions. Our findings suggest that Republican candidates are more likely to share information on controversial events that have taken place during the election cycle, while Democratic candidates focus on social policy issues. As expected, commentators on Republican candidate pages express negative sentiments toward current public policies as they seldom support decisions made by the Obama administration, while commentators on democratic candidate pages are more likely to express support for continuation or advancement of existing policies. However, the significance (strong/weak) and nature (positive/negative) of sentiments varied between candidates within political parties based on perceived credibility of the candidate’s degree of credibility on a given issue. Additionally, we explored correlation between online trends of comments/sentiment and offline events. When analyzing the trend patterns, we found that changes in online trends are driven by three factors: 1) popular post, 2) offline debates, and 3) candidates dropping out of the race.

Research Team: Saud Alashri, Srinivasa Srivatsav Kandala, Vikash Bajaj, Roopek Ravi, Anish Pradhan, and Kendra L. Smith

 

Governing Innovation in U.S. State Gov. – Journal of Strategic Info. Systems

JSISMy co-authored article with Gregory S.Dawson (Arizona State University) and James S. Denford (Royal Military College of Canada) has been accepted for publication in Journal of Strategic Information Systems

Governing Innovation in U.S. State Government: An Ecosystem Perspective

In the public sector, the strategic quest for IT-based innovation often starts by hiring a successful private sector CIO and hoping his or her prior experience will transfer. However this often ignores the existence and influence of other entities and IT governance structures that form the innovation ecosystem. Applying the legal view of agency theory to the U.S. state innovation ecosystem and using a crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis (csQCA) approach, we investigate factors that are associated with public sector IT-based innovation. We find that CIO characteristics, structural oversight mechanisms, CIO relationships with authorities, and the state environment combine to form configurations that lead to both high and low performance.

Autonomous Vehicles in Slate and Wired Interview

slateI published a new article in Slate for their Futurography series on the challenges cities might face when self-driving cars share the roads with old school vehicles.

Can Self-Driving Cars Share the Road With Old-School Vehicles?

WiredI was also interviewed for a story in Wired on the US Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge.

Columbus Just Won $50 Million to Become the City of the Future

#IdeasToRetire – Center for Science, Policy & Outcomes – May 9, 2016

I will be speaking at the Center for Science, Policy & Outcomes in Washington, DC on May 9th.

#IdeasToRetire: Information Systems in Public Management, Public Policy, and Governance
Death of ideas are painful. In his classic 1962 book, Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn traces how “normal science” precedes.  In normal science, a field evolves based on prior scientific achievements and is built, brick by brick, from an existing paradigm. The current paradigm grows and evolves and gradually an entire community coalesces around this set of beliefs. Scientific practitioners take great pains to defend the set of beliefs and, over time, the scientific community acts to suppress innovations that conflict with the existing paradigm. Further, the community makes no efforts to discover new ways of doing things, performance anomalies are covered up, discarded or ignored and there is no effort to invent new theory. Even worse, there is an active effort to suppress new theories and those who espouse them. It is only when an existing paradigm is utter bereft of value that the community starts to examine the existing paradigm and challenge it.

IdeasToRetireInformation systems are fundamentally transforming how we manage public institutions and conduct public policy. Yet, even a causal glance at the mainstream public management and public policy research outlets reflects a glaring omission of serious research into information systems when it comes to their design, management, governance, and evaluation. This state of affairs is not acceptable given the critical nature of information systems and their potential to impact how we govern. For all of the investments that the public sector has made in technology, we still see dismal failures in IT usage, management and implementation in government. A critical issue that stands in our way to realizing the full potential of IT when it comes to transforming our public agencies, delivery of public services, and the crafting and execution of public policies – antiquated ideas that hold us back. Adherence to these ideas is causing two undesirable outcomes: (1) an unacceptable gap between the promise of technology and its current failure rate and (2) a failure to fully realize the benefits of technology. In this talk, I will share findings from the #IdeasToRetire project. Our conclusion from this project of this is simple: government is stymied by outmoded ideas and can do better. Fixing this requires both thoughtful insight and courage.

2016 Technology Forum – Ottawa County, Michigan

OC_Tech_Forum_LogoWill be heading to Michigan later this month to keynote the 2016 Technology Forum.

Realizing the Promise of (Open, Mobile, and Big) Data and Technologies for Local Governments

How can we harness data towards innovative local governance that advances our communities? Today, we have all heard about open data, mobile data, and even big (and very big) data. We have also seen a rise in civic hackathons, competitions, and challenges that engage innovators to solve complex problems and promote the use of data analytics for global development. In this presentation, I will use a wide assortment of cases to illustrate a key point, i.e., while we have made great strides in leveraging technology and data, we have undermined its potential due to an under-appreciation of governance and policy nuances. Do not despair! I will outline a series of actionable steps that can be undertaken to rectify this deficiency. Specifically, I will focus on how can we create data-driven development labs to tackle some of our most vexing social and policy challenges.

WHEN: Friday, April 29, 2016, 8:30am-4:00pm
WHERE: Ottawa County Fillmore Complex, West Olive, MI (Map). Enter parking lot B, forum is in main conference room of the County Administration building, second floor, west wing.

University of Washington

UWLooking forward to visiting the University of Washington later this month. I will deliver a research presentation at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. I was on the faculty of the University of Washington Information School from 2005-2011 and held adjunct appointments in the College of Engineering and the Evans School.

Taking Information Systems Seriously in Public Management and Public Policy Research

Information systems are fundamentally transforming how we manage public institutions and conduct public policy. Yet, even a causal glance at the mainstream public management and public policy research outlets reflects a glaring omission of serious research into information systems when it comes to their design, management, governance, and evaluation. This state of affairs is not acceptable given the critical nature of information systems and their potential to impact how we govern. Consider several recent incidents: the FBI agitating Apple to unlock the mobile phone of one of the San Bernardino attackers; questions over regulation related to drones or the sharing economy; the Cybersecurity National Action Plan and new measures to protect critical infrastructure in the wake of growing cyberattacks; effective deployment of complex information systems such as healthcare.gov; and ethical and control questions related to big data and predictive analytics. These are just a handful of information system disruptions transforming public management and public policy. As investment in information technologies and the policies, programs, and services they enable, continues to rise, we desperately need active engagement by public policy and management scholars. Drawing on over three years of research in both traditional and emerging information systems, I will highlight opportunities to fill this gap and advance the management and impact of information systems.

For more information, please click here.

IÉSEG School of Management – March 5-13

IESEGLooking forward to returning to IÉSEG School of Management in March to collaborate with colleagues and deliver two research presentations. Thanks to Isabelle Fagnot for organizing the visit.

Governing Mega-Scale IT Projects: The Global Public Sector Experience 

Information Technology (IT) projects are commonplace in the public sector. National, regional, and local governments continue to invest substantial resources into designing, developing, and maintaining information systems. The scale, scope, and potential impacts of IT projects continue to increase. Today, it is typical to find mega-scale IT projects in the public sector. Unfortunately, these projects seldom play out as planned. Mega-scale IT projects often fail to meet expectations, and when they fail, they do so magnificently. In this presentation, I will share lessons learned from a study of six mega-scale IT projects in the public sector. I will specifically call out governance issues associated with contracting, consultants, financing, human resources, leadership, and project management. [Flyer]

Designing Research Programs: Processes, Outputs, and Outcomes

I believe that research needs to be conducted in a manner that advances the greater public good, especially in fields that are of an applied nature (business, engineering, public policy, etc.). Research done with the sole intention of producing a journal article or conference paper is not good enough. Academia has a special responsibility to generate knowledge that advances society. In this talk, I will offer personal reflections on how to structure research programs to maximize several goals. First, to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the research process. Second, to maximize the potential that research outputs will be accepted by scholarly and practitioner communities. Third, to work with stakeholders to leverage the knowledge that is generated, to advance societal outcomes. I will share examples from a wide assortment of projects to elaborate on how scholars can build agile, responsive, and responsible research projects that have relevance beyond the ivory tower. I will pay particular attention to global research projects that are interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to sharing lessons about what works, I will openly share some of the trials and tribulations that I have encountered along the way. [Flyer]