Jane Fountain receives “Federal 100″ award

April 18th, 2014 by ncdg


Jane Fountain, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, has been named to the 2014 “Top Federal 100” by Federal Computer Week, one of only two academics on the list.

Jane Fountain, NCDG Director, with Hirokazu Okumura, Tokyo University and former NCDG Fellow, at the Federal 100 Awards Gala

Jane Fountain, NCDG Director, with Hirokazu Okumura, Tokyo University and former NCDG Fellow, at the Federal 100 Awards Gala

“Federal IT would not function without people like this year’s Fed 100,” says FCW. “And at a time when optimism can be hard to muster in government, their stories are a refreshing reminder of what one person can make possible.” Several UMass Amherst alumni were on hand, and Fountain was accompanied by former NCDG fellow, Hirokazu Okumura of Tokyo University (in the photo above).
The “Federal 100” in IT are selected based on contributions made during 2013. Fountain was selected based on her research on cross-agency collaboration in the federal government. In December 2013, the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) released her major report titled “Examining Constraints To, and Providing Tools For, Cross-Agency Collaboration.” The study, commissioned by

ACUS, led to a set of recommendations that were debated and approved by vote of ACUS members at its annual plenary meeting. (Video of the plenary meeting and Fountain’s presentation are available on the ACUS website.) The study was based in part on Fountain’s report for the IBM Center for the Business of Government titled Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers, the Center’s most downloaded report from January to October 2013. Both studies examine how the traditionally stove-piped federal bureaucracy has sought to become more collaborative in light of technological innovations. Her comments on how to improve interagency collaboration earned her the title “collaboration guru” by Federal Computer Week.
The “Federal 100” was started 25 years ago through the efforts of Frank Reeder, a 25-year veteran OMB official who in the late 1980s initiated with FCW a visible way to recognize and celebrate the achievements and innovations of government officials working in federal IT. Reeder, who was at that time was branch chief for information policy at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB, also served during his illustrious career in the legislative branch and through non-governmental organizations. An emphasis on recognizing contributions from all levels of the federal government through a nomination process driven by the expert community and an evaluation process by a blue ribbon panel of judges has continued to be a hallmark of the Federal 100 award for the past quarter century.
Photo: Copyright FCW 2014. Photos of the Federal 100 awards event are available through the Federal Computer Weekly website.

NCDG Welcomes Visitors from Bogotá, Colombia

April 9th, 2014 by ncdg


Visiting graduate students from Externado University, Bogota, Colombia with Jane Fountain, NCDG director, and NCDG Fellow Ahmed Ibrahim


This week, the National Center for Digital Government welcomes six international visitors from Externado University in Bogotá, Colombia for a weeklong visit from April 7 to 11, 2014. This exchange is part of a broader partnership between NCDG at the University of Massachusetts and Externado University that aims to provide professors and students from both institutions with increased opportunities to study and work internationally and is being facilitated by the International Academic Program.

The visit, entitled “Management Research Trends in the 21st Century”, is comprised of diverse activities at the University of Massachusetts throughout the week, including lectures, meetings with UMass faculty and students, and visiting graduate courses. The six visitors are graduate students at Externado University’s Business School in Bogotá. They are: Carlos Merchán (MBA), Magda Zea (Masters in Innovation), Diana Pérez (Masters in Human Resources and Organizational Development), María Fernanda Paz (Masters in Marketing), Héctor Méndez (Masters in Marketing), and Mariam Facio (Masters in Strategic Thinking). Elsa Augustine coordinated the visit on campus.

Erdem Erkul at the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS) in Brussels

April 7th, 2014 by ncdg

ErdemCEPISDr. Erdem Erkul,  Regional National Plan Manager, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Middle East and Africa, Microsoft and a former NCDG Fellow, participated in the the 52nd CEPIS Council last weekend in Geneva.

CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) in Brussels is the representative body of national informatics associations throughout greater Europe. CEPIS’ main aim is to promote the development of the information society in Europe. It achieves this by focusing its efforts on a number of areas that are of particular interest to its members. The NGO was established in 1989 by nine European informatics societies. It has since grown to represent over 300,000 ICT and informatics professionals as members in 32 countries. CEPIS also supports the European Commission and European Union in technology related policy issues through its activities.

Representatives of member countries and societies meet annually. Erkul has been attending these meetings on behalf of the Informatics Association of Turkey and representing Turkey for four years in the area of informatics and technology.

Last weekend, the 52nd meeting was held in Geneva. Erkul delivered a speech and made a presentation on “The role of NGOs in Public Participation and the Policy Making Process”. At the end of the Council meeting , European representatives, who are presidents/vice presidents of European informatics associations, nominated him for election as Vice President. The election will be held in Brussels in November 2014.CEPISgroup

Jane Fountain delivered a keynote address at the symposium titled “Technological Innovation in Government: Toward Open and Smart Government” organized by the Section on Science and Technology in Government, American Society of Public Administration, held at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston on April 5, 2014

April 6th, 2014 by ncdg


For details see: http://www.umb.edu/news_events_media/events/technological_innovation_in_government_toward_an_open_and_smart_government


New report: Building Cross-Agency Collaboration

December 13th, 2013 by ncdg

Last week, Jane Fountain presented the results of a broad study of cross-agency collaboration at the annual plenary meeting of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency. The final report, The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010: Examining Constraints To, and Providing Tools For, Cross-Agency Collaboration brings together guidance and recommendations for public managers, examines the early implementation of some of the provisions of the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010, and highlights four case studies of successful, important cross-agency collaboration. I’m immensely grateful to current and former government officials and other experts who gave generously of their time and knowledge to teach me more of the inner workings of cross-agency collaboration.

The case studies in the report are meant to illustrate concretely the complexity of cross-agency collaboration and, in most cases, the long period of development required for public managers and others to build shared goals, language, methods and processes. The case studies demonstrate innovative and impressive cross-agency projects.

The National Export Initiative, one of the administration’s first set of cross-agency priority, or CAP, goals is meant to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The effort brings together about 20 different departments and agencies responsible for trade policy, negotiations, funding and other resources, and export promotion. The initiative builds on the Trade Policy Coordinating Committee, established by Congress in 1992, and strengthens its strategic focus and coherence.

Reducing veteran homelessness focuses on the “virtual agency” created by policy entrepreneurs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, and the Veterans Administration, the VA, working with a constellation of state and local government agencies, NGOs and other partners. The HUD-VA Supportive Housing rental voucher program, an interagency program that actually began in 1991, is one of the core cross-agency vehicles to move veterans with a variety of physical and mental health needs out of chronic homelessness. Nineteen federal agencies comprise the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). But local level collaboration is critical for implementation. The case describes the linkages from Washington to local level, community decision makers.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a collaboration among three federal agencies designed to reconceptualize policies and practices by coordinating those who work on affordable housing with those who focus on affordable transportation to produce solutions for communities that will help people live in proximity to jobs with the ability to choose affordable transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency have worked together to build this cross-agency capacity. Here’s a brief video from the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut on the importance of the collaboration.

An expert at DOT said of this initiative:

One of the biggest [cross-agency projects] in the Obama Administration has been the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. This is clearly worth doing. We do a profound amount of transportation, housing, economic development, environmental planning and investment that is completely disconnected. We fail to capitalize on synergies and we spend way more money than we should and we don’t get the outcomes. That’s an area where the challenges [of cross-agency collaboration] are worth it.

Expedited Permitting and Review of Federal Infrastructure Projects is a case study that offers guidance to public managers and others on the cross-agency use of dashboards, rapid response teams, and interventions at the regional and local levels to push collaboration throughout agencies. Quoting from a presidential memorandum of August 2011, the project is meant to more fully leverage strategies such as “integrating planning and environmental reviews; coordinating multi-agency or multi-governmental reviews and approvals to run concurrently; setting clear schedules for completing steps in the environmental review and permitting process; and utilizing information technologies to inform the public about the progress of environmental reviews as well as the progress of Federal permitting and review processes.”

The background and recommendations in the report build on and expand previous research, including a more concise report titled Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers, published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

The ACUS annual plenary discussion concerning the study were surprising, in a positive way, because agency general counsel and attorneys discussed how important it is to them to understand the components of cross-agency collaboration. Most public management researchers know little about the perspectives and role of agency general counsel and attorneys with respect to interagency collaboration. We need to know more. Some attorneys described how agency attorneys are thrown into complex negotiations across agencies, and multiple parties, having had no training or experience in these matters. The video of the plenary session discussion is useful for its recording of this discussion. ACUS also makes publicly available on its website the meetings, minutes and various reviews of the study and recommendations as these were carried out by the ACUS Committee on Administration and Management.

Jane Fountain keynote address at Encuentro Internacional de Investigadores en Administración 2013

December 10th, 2013 by ncdg


Jane Fountain gave a keynote address, “Disjointed Innovation: Prospects for Digital Governance,” at the Encuentro Internacional de Investigadores en Administración 2013 held in Santa Marta, Colombia on November 26 and 27, 2013. The conference was organized by the Facultad de Administración de Empresas de la Universidad Externado de Colombia y la Universidad del Valle. The conference site was organized by the University Magdalena, Santa Marta. Professor Fountain also conducted a one-day executive education workshop on public management and innovation for faculty from throughout Colombia held at the University of Magdalena.


Jane Fountain at the 2013 Urban Forum: Connecting Technologies to Citizenship

December 10th, 2013 by ncdg


JF_Photo high res

Jane Fountain wrote an invited white paper, “Connecting Technologies to Citizenship,” and participated in the panel “Tuning in: How can technology help unite the government with it’s people?” at the 2013 Urban Forum: Technology and the Resilience of Metropolitan Regions held in Chicago on December 5, 2013. Twitter: #UIC_UrbanForum

A pre-publication copy of the white paper  “Connecting Technologies to Citizenship” .

Videos of the panels are available here: http://www.uicurbanforum.org/videos/2013/index.php

Photos of the Urban Forum panelists and talks here: http://flic.kr/p/inTeZy

Brazil’s “Constitution for the Internet” — invitation to an open discussion

October 29th, 2013 by ncdg


Today and tomorrow the Brazilian House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to vote the so-called “Marco Civil” (Civil Framework), a federal legislation that would guarantee civil rights in the use of the Internet and has been called a “Constitution for the Internet.” Amidst the news on NSA espionage on Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff last summer, debates about the law were given “constitutional urgency,” and many expect the regulation to pass this week.

Professor Martha Fuentes-Bautista’s seminar on “Internet Governance & Information Policy” will skype tomorrow with our NCDG fellow Diego Canabarro who (as featured by Aljazeera) works on these issues in Brazil, to discuss the implications of the new regulation for the country, the region and the world. I know many of you know and appreciate Diego’s work, so I’d like to invite you to join us tomorrow in 304 Gordon at 2:45 pm. for an open discussion on cybersecurity, surveillance and emerging digital rights in Brazil.

Brazil is the first country trying to create a “civil rights” framework to guide policy and regulation of online services. The law would declare the provision of “multimedia communication services” (broadband services) as a “collective interest,” and sanction key principles such as neutrality of network carriage, and privacy of communications. However, a very controversial aspect of the project is the creation of “data storage nodes” to manage Internet traffic in and out of the country. The idea is interpreted by many as a step towards the balkanization of internet worldwide.

In this context, some see Marco Civil as Brazil’s push to govern the Internet, while a number of international digital rights advocacy organizations like Reporters Without Borders, Wikileaks and Article19 have called for the swift adoption of an “uncompromising Marco Civil” in Brazil. Here in the U.S., many digital rights advocates are following the Brazilian case as thousands mobilized in D.C. last weekend calling to stop massive e-surveillance, and increase protections to civil rights online. In the meantime, countries like India have expressed support for Rousseff’s proposal to advance a global ‘bill of rights’ for the governance and use of the Internet, according to five basic principles:

“Freedom of expression, privacy of the individual, and respect for human rights; Open, multilateral and democratic governance; Universality that ensures the social and human development and the construction of inclusive and non-discriminatory societies; Cultural diversity, without the imposition of beliefs, customs and values; and neutrality of the network, guided only by technical and ethical criteria, rendering it inadmissible to restrict it for political, commercial, or religious purposes.”


The political context of healthcare.gov

October 28th, 2013 by ncdg

Government IT is always produced and implemented in political context. The London School of Economics US American Politics and Policy blog editor asked me to write about the healthcare.gov launch. Here’s the post aiming to put the launch into the context of other large government IT projects and polarized politics. It’s titled:

The difficulties of Healthcare.gov need to be seen in the context of an acrimonious political climate and the poor record of large and complex IT projects.


New study on cross-agency collaboration

October 22nd, 2013 by ncdg
Jane Fountain

Jane Fountain

Jane Fountain has released a preliminary report “Examining Constraints To, and Providing Tools For, Cross-Agency Collaboration” commissioned by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), an independent federal agency whose goal is to make government work more efficiently.

The preliminary report is available on the ACUS website for public comment until mid-November 2013. The final report will remain publicly available on the ACUS website. On December 6, 2013, ACUS members — primarily current and former federal agency general counsels and attorneys — will vote in a plenary session on a set of recommendations advanced by the ACUS Committee on Management and Administration and based on the study.
The study focuses on cross-agency collaboration in the context of the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010. The legislation requires government-wide goals as well as agency goals that include greater attention to cross-agency collaboration. In addition, the GPRA Modernization Act established the Performance Improvement Council in the federal government as a means for agency leaders to share best practices for improving government performance.

GPRA introduces its own set of tools and constraints for and against collaboration, says Fountain, but little attention has been given to a series of institutional challenges to cross agency coordination. Her report “examines the use of tools by federal agency political appointees and career decision makers to overcome and work within these institutional challenges,” she says. “The recommendations encourage wider use of such tools to advance cross-agency collaboration in federal agencies.”