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Fountain Honored as UMass Spotlight Scholar

UMass Amherst professor Jane Fountain standing in front of wall of posters about her work.

September 2014

Jane Fountain, Distinguished Professor in public policy and political science, was recently honored as a University of Massachusetts Amherst Research Next Spotlight Scholar. Research Next writes:

“For as long as there has been a virtual state, UMass Amherst Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Jane Fountain has stood as an undisputed leader on the topic. As governments and large international organizations continue to learn how to adopt our rapidly evolving technology, Fountain provides the tools, consultation and expert analysis necessary to help them make best use of it.”

In 2001, Fountain published the seminal book, Building the Virtual State: Information Technology and Institutional Change, which outlines the American public sector’s path towards a fair, successful use of digital governance. As the book uses a rich collection of case studies to highlight the institutional and political hurdles to that success, in addition to the technological ones, the book remains a leading resource on the topic. It has been cited more than 1,200 times and translated into Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, and Spanish. The Chinese translation is in its second edition.

“Dr. Fountain has done more than almost anyone to advance the study of digital government,” says Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. “Indeed, Dr. Fountain literally wrote the book that defined this field. This book is universally acknowledged as by far the best publication on its topic.”

In spring 2014, Fountain was named to the “Top Federal 100” by Federal Computer Week. She is one of only two academics to make the list. Soon after, she was also appointed to a three-year term on the Experts Advisory Committee of the E-Government Research Center of the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration (EROPA). Fountain is the only non-Chinese member of the approximately 10-member Experts Advisory Committee.

As founder and director of the National Center for Digital Government, Fountain has a long history researching and evaluating federal IT policies and practices. In 2013, she released a report through the Administrative Conference of the United States titled “

Examining Constraints To, and Providing Tools For, Cross-Agency Collaboration.” She also translated that work into a report for IBM’s Center for the Business of Government titled “Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers.” Both examine how the traditionally divided federal bureaucracy has sought to become more collaborative in light of technological innovations. Her guidance on how to improve such collaboration has also earned her the title of “collaboration guru” by Federal Computer Week.

Since joining the UMass Amherst faculty in 2005, her research has focused on institutional perspectives on technology and governance, public organizations and institutional change, women and IT, and the intersection of science, technology and society. Fountain has received numerous awards and recognitions during her tenure, including election to the National Academy of Public Administration and selection as an Inaugural Senior Fellow of the Information and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. She has also received two of the highest campus honors: the Chancellor’s Medal in 2012 and the 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity. Fountain is credited with a number of scholarly publications, including three co-edited volumes, 19 book chapters, 27 working papers, and numerous keynote addresses and conference presentations internationally. She has also served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on $6.25 million in grants since joining UMass Amherst.

The impact of Fountain’s ideas stretches far beyond academic texts and grants, however. She serves as an appointee to the Governor’s Innovation Council of Advisors for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and served on the American Bar Association’s Blue Ribbon Panel on e-Rulemaking. She has also been the chair, co-chair, and a council member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government, a leadership role working with government and corporate leaders in places such as Davos, Istanbul, Dubai and Vienna.

What’s next for Fountain? She remains dedicated to assisting governments around the world as they make the difficult transition to a more virtual state.

“It’s not an easy thing to take something as complex and variegated as a central government through what I think is a fairly significant transformation,” says Fountain. “For them to become infused with digital information, digital communications and all of the other tools that are available takes some reorganizing. My work is aimed at helping governments understand what their alternative paths are and to help them make more intelligent decisions.”

 

Article originally appeared on Research Next, available at http://www.umass.edu/researchnext/spotlight/virtual-state.

 

Fountain Appointed to Advisory Committee on E-Government in Asia

Fountain poses before her invited lecture at Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management, China’s top public policy school.

Fountain poses before her invited lecture at Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management, China’s top public policy school.

June 17, 2014

Jane Fountain, Distinguished Professor of political science and public policy, has been appointed to a three-year term as a member of the Experts Advisory Committee of the E-Government Research Center of the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration (EROPA).

Founded in 1960, EROPA is an organization of states, groups and individuals in Asia and the Pacific designed to promote regional cooperation in improving knowledge, systems and practices of government administration in order to help accelerate economic and social development. Fountain is the only non-Chinese member of the approximately 10-member Experts Advisory Committee.

Earlier this month, Fountain served as the keynote speaker at the first international conference organized jointly by EROPA and the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, eGovernment Research Center.

 

 

Jane Fountain receives “Federal 100” award

 

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

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.

The political context of healthcare.gov

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.

http://bit.ly/1d7ujdZ

New study on cross-agency collaboration

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.”

Fountain on Federal News Radio to Discuss Cross-Agency Collaboration

Jane Fountain

Jane Fountain

Jane Fountain was featured on a special edition of the Business of Government Hour on Federal News Radio – Conversation with Authors: Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers with Dr. Jane Fountain on June 17. The interview focuses on collaborative governance, specifically, cross-agency collaboration in the federal government. Recent changes in law and advances in technology have led to an environment that makes cross-agency collaboration more manageable. The interview focuses on how agency leaders can foster cross-agency collaboration as a way of doing business and serving the public. Much of the interview is based on Fountain’s empirical research, including a new report for public managers titled “Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers,” published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Link to the radio program

Download an mp3 of the interview

Canabarro joins conversation about the Brazilian Internet Bill of Rights in the Berkman Center for Internet and Society

 

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On June 19th, Visiting Doctoral Fellow Diego Canabarro joined a group of scholars who debated the Brazilian Internet Bill of Rights with Representative Alessandro Molon (Brazilian House of Representatives). The meeting was held in the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, at Harvard University.

The Draft Bill is a legal framework which has being discussed on an open and collaborative basis since 2009 and aims at declaring the fundamental civil rights in the use of the Internet. It is commonly known as a “Constitution for the Internet”. The text of the bill was crowdsourced through an online platform.

Despite of having strong support of civil society, companies like Google, Yahoo, and Mozilla, International governmental and non governmental organizations, the Bill has faced strong opposition by content and telco in Brazil. A final vote on the matter by the Brazilian Congress has recently been delayed for the sixth time.

In a recent visit to Brazil, Tim Berners-Lee – the father of the Web – affirmed: “With the ‘Marco Civil da Internet’ [name of the Bill in Portuguese], you are on the brink of a remarkable achievement which would be a historic step not just for Brazil but for the world in securing an open and free Web for all. Passing without delay this legislation would cement Brazil’s reputation as a world leader in democracy and social progress.”

According to Representative Molon, ” the Bill has opted to protect society instead of protecting corporate interests. It preserves the Web as it was intended: an open and decentralized network, in which users are the engine for collaboration and innovation. It deals with crucial topics such as privacy, net, freedom of expression, and more. And it has as its foundation the guarantee of human rights, of citizenship and the preservation of the diversity and the social purpose of the web.”

Diego, whose research deals with Internet governance, engaged in and broadcasted the discussions through his Twitter account.

 

 

 

Schweick Recognized in Collaborative Governance Competition

Associate Director of NCDG Professor Charles Schweik (environmental conservation and public policy) have received together with Lucia Miller (UMass MPPA ’12) an honorable mention in an international competition of case studies and simulations that focus on collaboration in public management. The student-teacher duo studied the use in Massachusetts state government of open standards, a topic that has long been of interest to Schweik.

They began working together while Miller was in Schweik’s Information Technology class and continued the project after she graduated last spring. Schweik and Miller then submitted their report, titled “The Adoption of Technology Open Standards Policy by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” to the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC) at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

The winning peer-reviewed studies in the PARCC competition are made available on the program’s website as a free, online resource for educators around the globe whose teaching focuses on collaborative public management, networks, governance, and/or problem solving. Schweik has been recognized repeatedly for his cutting-edge approaches to both studying and teaching about open-source technology. Last fall he was named one of 2012’s top 50 innovators in education by the Center for Digital Education. Earlier this month he received an award honoring the legacy of Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom for his innovative efforts over the last 15 years to study Internet-based collective action, particularly related to open-source software.

Adapted from the CPPA PoliBlog.

Schweik Granted Award Honoring Legacy of Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom

Associate Director of NCDG Professor Charles Schweik is one of three senior scholars worldwide to receive a new award honoring the late political economist Elinor Ostrom, the only woman to date to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Throughout her career, Ostrom, who died in 2012, focused on demonstrating that “collaboration is possible, frequent and occurs among individuals of different rationalities and in different contexts,” according to the website for the new award. She thereby challenged the previously accepted “conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized.” As a result, Ostrom dramatically changed the norms that had regulated not only political science and economics, but also social and behavioral sciences more generally. In 2009 she received the Nobel memorial prize “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons,” and shared the award with fellow economist Oliver E. Williamson.

Schweik was recognized with the Elinor Ostrom Award on Collective Governance of the Commons for his innovative efforts over the last 15 years to study Internet-based collective action, particularly related to open-source software. In his book Internet Success: A Study of Open Source Software Commons (MIT Press, 2012), Schweik and his former graduate student Robert English analyzed more than 170,000 Internet-based common property projects and tested more than 40 theoretically based hypotheses.

The Ostrom award also recognizes Schweik’s commitment to putting his open-source research into practice in the form of open-education projects. For example, since 2007 Schweik has led an effort to build an international network of faculty that collaborate on open-source geographic information systems education. Over the last couple years he has also worked closely with the University of Massachusetts’ provost’s office and staff at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library on the Open Education Initiative, a program that promotes the production and use of open-access educational materials to engage students and keep their textbook costs down. Last year the Center for Digital Education named Schweik one of the top 50 innovators in education for his cutting-edge use of open-source software in the classroom and as a research focus.

Finally, the recognition also highlights Schweik’s efforts in promoting and mentoring students in the study of “knowledge commons.” Schweik recently founded the Workshop in the Study of Knowledge Commons, which brings together faculty, staff and students on the UMass campus who want to understand new models for producing and sharing information that can feed humanity’s knowledge.

The other senior scholars to receive this year’s Ostrom award were Ben Cousins (University of Western Cape, South Africa) and Harini Nagendra (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, India). More information on the award is available at www.elinorostromaward.org.

From the CPPA PoliBlog