Posts

#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.

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]

Florida International University, Feb 24-26, 2016

FIU I will be visiting Florida International University later this month to deliver a research presentation at the Department of Public Administration in the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.

Information Technologies, Public Management, and Public Policy: Reflections and a Way Forward 

FIU

The public sector continues to invest heavily in information technologies (IT). Investments in IT have skyrocketed in recent times at all levels of government, from local to regional and national. These investments have been fueled by a recognition that IT have the potential to transform how we design our public institutions, deliver public services, and govern responsibly. Alas, we must take a moment to assess whether these aspirations have been fully realized. There is limited evidence that investments in IT have delivered on their promised benefits. What is even more troubling is that for every success story, we have quite a few information technology project disasters that have squandered taxpayer dollars.

We do not need to despair; we need more serious engagement on the intricacies of how technologies are introduced, managed, and leveraged within the public sector. In this talk, I will draw on over four years of research to outline critical issues that limit our ability to exploit the potential of IT in the public sector. I will draw on past research projects that have spanned topics such as designing crowdsourcing platforms, building analytical capabilities to mine big data, managing mega-scale IT projects, performance management of IT units, and emerging technologies (e.g. automated vehicles, drones, etc.). I hope to inspire researchers to take the IT management more seriously in the context of public administration, public policy, and governance.

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.

Ideas to Retire Series @ Brookings Institution

logo_Artboard 1I co-designed a new project for the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution along with my colleague Gregory DawsonIdeas to Retire is a TechTank series of blog posts.  These posts identify outdated practices in public sector IT management and suggest new ideas for improved outcomes. I am happy to report that the series launched today!  You can find the introduction here. We will be featuring two ideas a week for the next 10 weeks.

Of the first two ideas featured, one is by James Keene (City Manager, Palo Alto, CA) co-authored with Jonathan Reichental (CIO, City of Palo Alto, CA). You can read about their idea here. The second idea is from David Bray (CIO, FCC).

Stay tuned for contributions from several other luminaries including Steve Kelman (Harvard University), John L. King (University of Michigan), Ramayya Krishnan (Carnegie Mellon University), Dan Chenok (IBM),  Alfred Ho (University of Kansas), Jane Fountain (University of Massachusetts), Marc Ott (City Manager, Austin, TX), Neal Myrick (Tableau Foundation), Ellen Lettvin (US Department of Education), Richard T. Watson (University of Georgia), José Esteves (IE Business School), and Jonathan Liebenau (London School of Economics), Phil Howard (University of Washington), among others.

Thanks to all contributors that participated in this project!

Enjoy #IdeastoRetire

 

Update – Recent Activities to Close out 2015

planning1015It has been a while since I updated my blog. Here is a run down of the main things I have worked on over the last two months.

Good news

Selected Interviews/Press Mentions

  1. Newcombe, T. “Learning to Share: How Cities Are Benefiting from the Sharing Economy,” Government Technology, December 14, 2015,
  2. Moore, J. “The 15 Most Innovative Agencies in Government,” NextGov, December 8, 2015,
  3. Keegan, M. “A Conversation with Dr. Kevin Desouza,” IBM Business of Government Radio Show, December 7, 2015
  4. Dovey, R. “Will City Regulators Treat Driverless Cars Like They’ve Treated Uber?Next City, October 28, 2015
  5. Koma, A. “Hawaii Moves Ahead with Audit of State IT Spending,” StateScoop.com, October 21, 2015

It has been a busy and productive 2015. Best wishes to you and your families for a peaceful and prosperous 2016.

University of Alaska Fairbanks – Data to Decisions Workshop

Workshop-flyer-3Heading to the University of Alaska Fairbanks today to deliver a talk at the Data to Decisions Visualization Workshop hosted by the NSF Sponsored Alaska EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program.

Beyond Modeling and Visualization: Towards Policy Design and Implementation

In this talk, I will highlight how technologies enable us to visualize policy options and simulate scenarios. Technologies, however, are no panacea when it comes to policy design and implementation. Deliberate decisions need to be made on how to structure the technology-enabled policy simulations to arrive at evidence-driven policy design, implementation, and evaluation. 

Please click here for my slides.

University of Wollongong – Research Seminar

uow I am looking forward to my visit to the University of Wollongong. On Wed, June 10, I will deliver a research presentation at the School of Management, Operations, and Marketing on IT Experiments for Social Good. I will highlight ongoing research projects on how information technology (IT) can be used to solve some of the pressing global and public challenges from combating human trafficking to urbanization and sustainability. I will discuss these projects as learning experiments that are focused on creating applied IT solutions while furthering evidence-driven policy design, implementation, and evaluation.

I will also visit the SMART Infrastructure Facility and Global Challenges Program at the University of Wollongong.