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Science & Civics: Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute released a report on Science & Civics: A Guide for Collaborative Action.

Today, it is necessary and urgent to defend the vital role of science in a healthy civic life. This report begins with the premise that there is a gap in both civic literacy and scientific literacy in the United States. The Aspen Institute’s Citizenship and American Identity Program (CAI) believes that these two trends are connected – and that addressing them together is vital to cultivating a citizenry capable of informed self-government. Through the Science & Civics Initiative, CAI aims to help scientists become more powerful citizens and enable citizens to make sense of the world and its complex problems more like scientists. The goal of this report is to outline a path of collaborative action for both civic groups and scientists.

I had the pleasure to contribute ideas to this report. Other contributors to the report include:

Shannon Dosemagen, Executive Director of Public Lab New Orleans

Dr. John Falk, Sea Grant Professor of Free Choice Learning at Oregon State University

Leetha Filderman, President and COO of PopTech

Ira Flatow, Host and Executive Producer of Science Friday

Cary Funk, Associate Director of Research on Science and Society at Pew Research Center

Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Dr. Leandris Liburd, Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Dietram Scheufele, John E. Ross Chair in Science Communication in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Brooke Smith, Executive Director of Compass

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.

2016 EGPA Annual Conference, 24-26 August 2016

header I will be presenting a paper at the 2016 EGPA Annual Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Frugal Technology and Innovation to Design Smarter Cities

In this paper, I will explore opportunities for frugal technology and innovation to design smarter cities. I will draw on several case studies of smart city development efforts in North America and Asia. The focus of my remarks will center on why we need to rethink the current state of technology deployment in urban centers, especially when we consider developing countries and fragile cities. A focus on frugal innovation will enable us to meet several objectives: 1) reduce the percentage of failed large-scale technology projects, 2) increase civic engagement through digital technologies, and 3) design data and build platforms that are agile and nimble.

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.

#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.

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.

Victoria University of Wellington – School of Government

VictoriaI am visiting Victoria University of Wellington's School of Government this week. During my visit, I will deliver a presentation on strategic management of information systems in the public sector. I will also meet with faculty and staff to learn more about the various academic and research programs with the School of Government and the Victoria Business School.

University of Florida and Bob Graham Center for Public Service

UFL I will be visiting the University of Florida later this week. The Bob Graham Center for Public Service is hosting my visit. I will deliver presentations to students across several Colleges including the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the College of Journalism and Communications. In addition, I will meet with research leaders and faculty across the University.

Creating a Balanced Portfolio of Information Technology Metrics

DesouzaCoverMetricsMy new report published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government is now available.

Creating a Balanced Portfolio of Information Technology Metrics

Information technology has made possible the availability of real-time data and the tools to display that data, such as dashboards, scorecards, and heat maps. This has boosted the use of data and evidence by government decision makers in meeting their agency and program missions. But what about the use of performance metrics by agency chief information officers themselves?

Typically, CIOs have a good inventory of metrics regarding the performance of their technical infrastructure, such as server down time. Metrics on non-technical elements, however — such as innovation capacity of the IT department and the health of the overall IT organization — are in earlier stages of development. These metrics are critical for CIOs to effectively manage their IT departments, and to convey the strategic value of IT capabilities for attaining agency-wide objectives.

A balanced portfolio of metrics are needed: for project management, for operations management, and for innovation. Based on interviews with over two dozen seasoned government CIOs, the report identifies illustrative metrics that CIOs might consider adopting and offers a set of recommendation for how CIOs might go about designing, implementing, and evaluating the effectiveness of their metrics initiatives.