Category Archives: Events

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


For details see:


New report: Building Cross-Agency Collaboration

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


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


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:

Photos of the Urban Forum panelists and talks here:

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


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.”


World Social Science Forum panel on Transformation of Public Policy in the Digital Age

Seok-Jin Eom newSeok-Jin Eom, associate professor at Seoul National University and former NCDG fellow, joined Jane Fountain and international colleagues as part of an international panel titled “Transformation of Public Policy and Governance in the Digital Age,” at the World Social Science Forum, October 13-15, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal Canada. The conference theme was “social transformation in the digital age.”

The international panel was organized by the Korean Social Science Research Council and the Korean National Commission for UNESCO. It brought together scholars from several major countries to cast a critical look at public policy and governance, one of the important social transformations in the digital age, in a comparative setting. To this end, the KOSSREC invited internationally recognized scholars on the subject from four countries including China, Japan, Korea, and the USA.

The panel was coordinated by Yong-duck Jung, President of the Korean Social Science Research Council and Professor, Seoul National University. Invited scholars and their papers included:

Professors Seok-Jin Eom and Yong-duck Jung (Seoul National University), “Administrative Information Sharing and its Impacts on Governance in Korea”

Professor Hiroshi Shiratori (Hosei University), “Transformation of Public Policy and Governance in the Digital Age: The Case of Japan”

Professor Sun Yu (School of Government, Beijing Normal University) and Dang Shengcui, Fang Bin, and Zhao Qiuyan (China Academy of Social Management, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China), “Public Access to Administrative Information and Participatory Governance in the Digital Age: Findings from China’s Survey”

Professor Jane Fountain (National Center for Digital Government and University of Massachusetts Amherst) “Virtual Agencies: Cross-Agency Collaboration in the U.S. Federal Government”

The invited scholars presented their country experiences with an eye toward finding common themes cross-nationally. The panel discussion focused on the ways and the results in which digital technologies are being used for public policy development and innovation in governance. A key theme that emerged from the panel presentations and discussion is the centrality of cross-agency collaboration and its importance for innovation in government globally.


New paper by Martha Fuentes Bautista: “Mapping ‘diversity of participation’ in networked media environments”

Department of Communication Professor and NCDG Faculty Affiliate Martha Fuentes Bautista has published a new working paper, Mapping ‘diversity of participation’ in networked media environments.  A lively discussion of extensions and applications of the framework proposed in her paper to other fields within STS was held by members of the NCDG and the UMass Workshop on the Knowledge Commons on Nov. 29, 2012, at 12:30 PM in the Gordon Hall STS conference room on the UMass Amherst campus.

GovCamp Singapore

Jane Fountain, Directgovcamplogoor of NCDG, gave the keynote address on November 18th, 2011, at GovCamp Singapore.  The unconference  assembled leading thinkers from government, academia, industry and citizen organizations to share ideas about how to improve citizen engagement and government services in Singapore through technology. The international GovCamp model applies a government context to evolving Web 2.0 technologies.  GovCamp rests on three central pillars: transparency; collaboration; and participation in government. Follow the dialogue here.

NCDG leads at the World Economic Forum Summit in Istanbul

NCDG Director Jane Fountain led a private working session at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia, held in Istanbul, on the future of government bringing together heads of state and government, senior ministers, business leaders and key academic experts. The session focused on how governments should build capacity to more effectively meet the increasing challenges of global and national macroeconomic inequalities and transnational political conflicts in an increasingly inter-connected world. The session took place on June 5, 2012. Fountain is Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government. Fountain chaired the Council last year and has been a Council member for the past four years. She led the Forum working session with Lord Peter Mandelson, the 2012 chair of the WEF Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.

The Summit’s theme, bridging regions in transformation, focused on jobs, youth education and employment, education, and range of policies, vehicles and incentives to promote economic development in the region.

During the trip, Fountain also met with key government, media, business and academic leaders including Ms. Nursuna Memecan, one of a handful of women Members of Parliament in Turkey and delegate to the Council of Europe. Among other issues, they spoke of the need for greater appreciation for diversity in European politics. Fountain was interviewed on aHBR, one of the Turkey’s largest national television networks, on social media and digital government in Turkey and the region.  Among the academics she met was Professor Zuhre Aksoy of Bogazici University. Prof Aksoy, an expert on international environmental politics, received her doctorate in political science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

To watch an interview with Professor Fountain on the Turkish television station ATV, click here [in Turkish]. A copy of the Future of Government report is available through the World Economic Forum website, as is more information about the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.

World Economic Forum Future of Government report

Digital governance is one of the five key themes for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos this year. In Abu Dhabi, at the WEF Global Agenda Council Summit, interest in digital governance from several Global Agenda Councils was intense. This year, Jane Fountain is the Vice Chair of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government. She chaired the Council last year and, with Council members, launched the report, “The Future of Government: Lessons Learned from around the World” at the WEF Europe and Central Asia Summit held in Vienna in June 2011abu_dhabi2.