Looking forward to delivering a plenary talk at 2019 PUBSIC Conference in Milan, Italy on Jan 25, 2019.
ICMA Press Release (October 23, 2018) - "ICMA has selected its inaugural group of research fellows, recognizing outstanding action-oriented research approaches to deal with local governments’ most pressing issues. Fellowships will fund four thought leaders to study topics ranging from equity measures for managing urban performance to developing successful innovation training programs for local officials, adding to ICMA’s vast knowledge base of research and leading practices in local government leadership and management. "
To read the full press release is available here.
An article I co-authored with Gregory S. Dawson (Arizona State University) and James S. Denford (Royal Military College of Canada) appears in the current issue of the Cutter Business Technology Journal.
We focus our article on a fundamental organizational question: in a medium-to-large organization, should data governance be centralized or decentralized (or, possibly, federated)? There are pros and cons for both centralization and decentralization. The overall business strategy needs to be considered: in some conglomerates of disparate business lines, there may be little commonality to the information being managed by the various divisions. However, decentralization still causes duplication of effort and risks inconsistencies across the enterprise. The authors give concrete examples that link the IT governance modality — centralized or decentralized — with performance outcomes. They generally favor a centralized model and provide the reader with specific recommendations on how to centralize data governance in organizations and how to implement this model successfully.
The article is available here.
I will deliver a seminar at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet next week.
The Public Sector in a World of Autonomous Systems
Emerging technologies are fundamentally impacting and transforming all aspects of our society. I am particularly concerned with how technological innovations impact 1) the design of our public institutions, 2) the apparatuses through which we shape, implement, and evaluate public policies, and 3) our governance frameworks for public goods. All indications suggest that we are moving toward a world where autonomous systems will dictate how we interface and interact with other agents and objects in our society. We can take advantage of emerging technologies to make our societies more livable, just, resilient, and sustainable. We need bold imagination and action to shape the future we want. This talk will outline how the public sector can take a leadership role in the design, development, and deployment of autonomous systems.
September 26, 2018: 13.30-14.30
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Today, the Brookings Institution released the Local Government 2035: Strategic Trends and Implications of New Technologies paper as part of the Issues in Technology Innovation series.
Technological change is increasingly disruptive and destabilizing. In order to maintain effective governance systems, public sector entities must overcome stagnant tendencies and take a proactive stance—acting in the face of impending technological innovations. Future government entities must evolve into lean, responsive, and adaptive organizations capable of rapid response to societal shifts.
In this paper, we illustrate how technological advancements, such as the proliferation of drone technologies, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and peer-2-peer services, will introduce data privatization challenges and destabilize existing governance systems. In order to maintain effective service delivery, public sector entities must increasingly consider the ramifications technology will have on income inequality, fragile and conflict states, and immigration—just to name a few.
They conclude by urging policymakers and government managers to chart out trends based on data, model the interactions within complex systems, and study the pathways towards outcomes to unearth intended and unintended consequences of strategic choices. The authors argue that designing a path forward for local governments will require deliberate collaboration among diverse stakeholders, an immersive engagement with the data and scenarios that will shape local communities, and employment of decision-tools to model and simulate alternatives.
I am heading to Germany for the week. First stop will be in Essen, where I will be deliver two lectures at Hochschule Ruhr West: University of Applied Sciences.
Disentangling Management of Information Systems in the Public Sector
Information systems are critical assets that need to be strategically leveraged in the public sector. Yet, we know little when it comes to IT governance in the public sector. Testament to this statement is the constant barrage of negative press on cyber attacks, to blockbuster IT project failures, and inability to leverage IT for innovation. In this presentation, I will highlight lessons learned from several research projects that have examined management of IS issues in the public sector from performance metrics, to big and open data, cybersecurity, the design and implementation of strategic IS plans, crowdsourcing platforms, and CIOs. These lessons will be framed in the broader context of how we might disentangle complexities associated with the designing, planning, and management strategic information systems in the public sector.
Challenges in Inter-Disciplinary Research: Strategies from Crafting Research Ideas to Publishing.
In this presentation, I will share my experiences in executing inter-disciplinary research projects. Studying complex phenomenon requires us to undertake research that (1) draws on multiple disciplines, (2) engages a diverse group of stakeholders, (3) appreciates a plurality of research approaches, and (4) communicates to a diverse set of audiences. Executing inter-disciplinary research is no easy feat to accomplish. Researchers face daunting challenges from the onset, beginning with the inception of ideas, then continuing to the crafting of problem statements, executing the research process, and communicating the results via publications in academic and practitioner outlets. However, these challenges should not be viewed as an excuse to abandon inter-disciplinary research in favor of narrow-minded and singular research exercises, which reduce complex phenomenon in deterministic fashions so as to arrive at irrelevant solutions. I will present a method (process) for executing inter-disciplinary research that has served me well. Illustrative examples of research projects will be used to exemplify this process and outline strategies for researchers to consider when conducting inter-disciplinary research projects. I will also highlight when it is time to ‘kill’ theories and concepts in order to promote radical innovation.
For more details, see link.
Technology-Enabled Participatory Platforms for Civic Engagement:
The Case of US Cities
Technology-enabled participatory platforms are proving to be valuable canvases for engaging citizens in solving public good challenges. Citizens are playing a more active role by either designing platforms themselves or participating on platforms created by public agencies. Unfortunately, our theoretical knowledge about the nature of these platforms is limited. In this paper, we take the first steps towards understanding technology-enabled participatory platforms. Through an exploratory analysis, following the spirit of a grounded theoretic methodology, we examined technology-enabled participatory platforms in the 25 most populated cities in the US. We deduce four main archetypes – citizen centric and citizen data, citizen centric and government data, government centric and citizen data, and government centric and citizen developed solutions of technology-enabled participatory platforms. We describe the intricacies of how collective intelligence is leveraged on these platforms. Implications for local government managers and urban planners are discussed. We hypothesize how the future of these platforms might evolve in the not so distant future.
This is our second paper in the Journal of Urban Technology, to read our first paper, please click here.