Author Archives: ncdg

NCDG Spring Seminar Series

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 12.27.36 PM

The National Center for Digital Government will host a Seminar Series from January – May, 2015. Scholars from UMass and National Center for Digital Government, Visiting Fellows, and guests, will present pressing topics in e-governance, science, and technology research. The seminars are free and open to the public.

Schedule of NCDG Seminars (January-May 2015), 201 Gordon Hall:

  1. Thursday, Jan. 29 between 11:30am–1 pm Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain Presents “E-Governance Tools and Challenges for Cross Agency Collaboration.”
  1. Thursday, Feb. 12 between 12–1:30 pm, Professor Luis Antonio Orozco Presents “Policy and Governance Networks of Innovation in Colombia: The Evolution of Inter-Agency Collaboration”
  1. Wednesday, Feb. 25 between 12–1:30 pm
  1. Wednesday, March 11 between 12–1:30 pm
  1. Wednesday, March 25 between 12–1:30 pm

6. Wednesday, April 8 between 12–1:30 pm

  1. Wednesday, April 22 between 12–1:30 pm

Erdem Erkul elected Vice President of CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies)


Dr. Erdem Erkul (sitting in the center in the photo), Senior Manager at Samsung and a former NCDG Fellow, was elected Vice President of CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) during the 53d CEPIS Council Meeting last week in Brussels.

2014-11-27 14.39.13

CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) 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 has 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 53rd meeting was held in Brussels. He was nominated for the Vice President role by presidents and vice presidents of member societies in the previous Council Meeting in April 2014. Among 6 candidates running for two Vice President roles, he was elected as the new Vice President of CEPIS. He will conduct this role for two years and actively contribute to the development process of ICT in Europe.

Learn more about R.Erdem Erkul, PhD at

World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda 2014 Visions Awards



Jane Fountain WEF press conference

Jane Fountain, NCDG Director, speaking at the press conference for Global Agenda Council Award.


The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government was honored with a Visions Award at 2014 Summit on the Global Agenda held in Dubai on November 9-11, 2014. The awards were announced during the opening plenary, Shaping the Transformations of the World.


United Arab Emirates Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Visions awardees and World Economic Forum leaders. From left: Espen Barth Eide, Managing Director, WEF; Achankeng Leke, Director, McKinsey & Company, South Africa; Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, WEF; Prof. Subramanian Rangan, INSEAD; Jamie McAuliffe, President & CEO, Education for Employment; His Highness Sheik Mohammad; Kathleen Matthews, Exec. VP, Marriott International; Dist. Prof. Jane Fountain; and David Kappos, Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore

United Arab Emirates Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Visions awardees and World Economic Forum leaders. From left: Espen Barth Eide, Managing Director, WEF; Achankeng Leke, Director, McKinsey & Company, South Africa; Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, WEF; Prof. Subramanian Rangan, INSEAD; Jamie McAuliffe, President & CEO, Education for Employment; His Highness Sheik Mohammad; Kathleen Matthews, Exec. VP, Marriott International; Dist. Prof. Jane Fountain; and David Kappos, Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore


Jane Fountain received the Visions Award on behalf of the Council on the Future of Government and spoke on the work of the Council at the press conference on the Global Agenda Council Award. She was chair of the Future of Government Council in 2010-11, vice chair in 2011-12, and has been a council member since its inception in 2008. She wrote the Smart Toolbox chapter on Political Representation, highlighting the importance of decision makers to use ICT to increase representation, decrease citizen apathy, and to interpret civic engagement in light of the subgroups and individuals actually represented online.

The Future of Government SmFuture of Government Smart Toolboxart Toolbox offers a practical, state of the art guide for government leaders and those interested in government innovation. The Smart Toolbox was developed under the leadership of Joe Nye, former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who chaired the Council, and Diana Farrell, President and CEO of the JPMC Institute, who served as vice chair, during 2013 and 2014. The toolbox focuses on eight key areas for government improvement: anti-corruption, political representation, service delivery, modernization of bureaucracy, increasing trust, leadership, innovation and security. Thirty two case studies drawn from every region of the globe illustrate and make concrete best practices.

Photos: Flickr

Jane Fountain speaking at the press conference on the Global Agenda Council Awards. Dubai, 2014.

Jane Fountain speaking at the press conference on the Global Agenda Council Awards. Dubai, 2014.

NCDG Fellow Contributes to “State Smart” Initiative



November 7, 2014

Christoph Demers, Fellow at the National Center for Digital Government, contributed to the National Priorities Project’s “State Smart” initiative, from June – August, 2014. Released October 2014, State Smart examines how federal dollars flow to states. State Smart aims to recreate the Census Bureau’s Consolidated Federal Funds Report (CFFR), which had been a vital tool to economists and researchers for decades, before it was cancelled in 2011 due to budget cuts. Other attempts by the federal government to make government spending data more accessible, such as the website, have thus far failed to provide researchers with a reliable and consistent data source. Most recently, a Government Accountability Office report found that for 2012, was missing $619 billion in federal government spending.

With State Smart, as with the CFFR before it, researchers can download a wide range of (clean!) data sets detailing state and federal level funding flows, including data on federal grants to states, federal contracts, DOD contracts, business and individual, and federal compensation. As the Washington Post noted, the CFFR was “crucial to the work of a small set of researchers, academics and journalists, offering a broad view of how federal money is transferred to states.” But State Smart isn’t meant to be a resource just for researchers and journalists.

State Smart goes beyond the Census’ Consolidated Federal Funds Reports, as it is housed in a user-friendly website with comparative and within-state analyses. The accessible nature of the site allows any interested member of the public to quickly gain an overview of how federal dollars play a role in their own as well as other states. For example, here we see State Smart’s graphic representation of per-person federal aid to individuals by state, with Massachusetts highlighted in green:


Or this 10 year view of the California’s revenue by source:



Importantly, State Smart will be updated as new data from various government sources flows in, ensuring that CFFR-type data will continue to be available to researchers, journalists, and active citizens.

Demers, a research intern at the National Priorities Project, assisted National Priorities Project staff in combining and then analyzing the assorted data sets that make up State Smart, including those from the Census, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the IRS, and, among others. “Christoph played a critical role in the launch of State Smart. He quickly learned the nuances of troubleshooting and cleaning disparate data sources, and the final product is a testament to his detailed-oriented approach,” said Becky Sweger, Director of Data and Technology at the National Priorities Project.


The National Priorities Project is a national non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making complex federal budget information transparent and accessible.


Schweik, Students Visit International Maker Faire

Associate Professor Charles Schweik (environmental conservation and public policy) took a group of students last weekend to the international Maker Faire in New York City. The event, which has been touted as the “greatest show and tell on earth,” showcases diverse do-it-yourself technologies, including three-dimensional design and printing; unmanned robotic vehicles such as an open-source underwater robot; and devices made from do-it-yourself low-cost computing methods.

In addition to public policy and administration students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the group included students from the UMass departments of natural resource conservation; engineering; and communication, as well as computer science students from Mt. Holyoke College and some eighth-graders from Amherst Regional Middle School. The students were part of a new undergraduate course offered by the UMass department of environmental conservation and the Center for Public Policy and Administration, which encourages students to undertake collaborative “maker” projects to solve environmental science and management problems.

Projects these interdisciplinary students are working on include: balloon-based remote sensing of land cover; monitoring water and air contamination; and low-cost scientific equipment for inventorying or monitoring wildlife. The student teams are documenting and sharing their research with Public Laboratory for Science, an organization committed to making do-it-yourself scientific equipment and methods available to underserved communities around the globe.

Last weekend’s field trip is part of a larger collaborative effort between the UMass colleges of Natural Sciences; Social and Behavioral Sciences; and Engineering, working in partnership with Amherst Media to conduct outreach in the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools related to open science and “making.” This town-gown partnership was highlighted in a recent White House report on university efforts to encourage the national maker movement.

The trip to New York City was made possible by support from a UMass Amherst Public Service Endowment Grant, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the College of Engineering.

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


Fountain Delivers Keynote at National Digitial Governance Conference in Brazil

 September 2, 2014

Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain, political science and public policy, gave the keynote address at the opening of Brazil’s first national digital government conference, I Simpósio Internacional em Inovação e Governança Digital, held Sept. 1-2 at the University of Brazil in Brasilia.

Fountain’s keynote, “Disjointed Innovation: The Political Economy of Digitally Mediated Institutional Reform,” addressed key research, policy and practical challenges in digital government. Other researchers at the conference were drawn from the country’s major universities and from the government. Among many topics, they presented empirical and other findings from recent research on participatory budgeting, for which Porto Alegre, Brazil, is well known globally; on the Digital Office (Gabinete Digital), one of the foremost digital democracy initiatives in the world, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul; and on leveraging open source technologies and open content to promote innovation and replication in other platforms in Brazil.


Fountain Addresses Big Data and the Common Good


July 10, 2014, Chicago

Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain spoke at the 26th annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, held in Chicago last month.

Fountain participated in a featured panel titled “Big Data Across Organizational Forms and Markets.” Her presentation focused on the capacity of government institutions to leverage large data sets and to develop public policies to exploit innovation while protecting the public good.

This was the latest public address that Fountain has given on the topic of big data, a term used to describe complex data sets that are too large to process using traditional computational applications. Increasingly sophisticated technology has allowed social scientists to analyze this kind of data with greater nuance and accuracy.

Last fall, Fountain was one of the experts invited to the Oxford Internet Institute’sworkshop “Responsible Research Agendas for Public Policy in the Era of Big Data.” She participated as the director of the National Center for Digital Government. In addition to academic experts and researchers, the workshop convened senior agency staff from several federal bureaus, including labor statistics; census; and the Office for the Management of the Budget.

Photo: public domain photograph, By User:Shoffman11 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fountain Authors Section of New World Economic Forum Guide for Government Technology Use



June 17, 2014

Future of Government Smart Toolbox, a new guide to help governments use technology to build better trust and deliver more efficient public services, includes a section on political representation authored by Jane Fountain, Distinguished Professor in political science and public policy. The guide was launched June 10 by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government, in cooperation and with the support of the government of the United Arab Emirates.

Political representation is one of the core issues for technology and governance globally. Fountain has been a member of the Future of Government Global Agenda Council since its inception seven years ago. She is past chair of the council and led the writing of its first major report, “The Future of Government: Lessons Learned from around the World,” which led to the initial sessions at Davos for government and non-governmental organizations leaders on this topic.

“Future of Government Smart Toolbox,” provides an analysis of how technology can and is impacting the demands placed on government to deliver more with less, as well as affecting government’s ability to meet expectations. The toolbox focuses on eight key areas for improving government performance: anti-corruption, political representation, bureaucracy, delivery of services, trust, leadership, security and innovation.

As part of the toolbox, the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government has developed three forward-looking scenarios to examine how the world of governance could evolve by 2050. The scenarios, developed with the Forum’s Strategic Foresight team, are:

  • City State: A world in which authority is decentralized to the city level and pragmatism trumps idealism in addressing collective issues.
  • e1984: A world in which the promise of Big Data is realized; economic, geopolitical and cyber threats are omnipresent, and collective solidarity is a core societal value.
  • Gated Community: A world in which world political power rests with individuals and private sector organizations; individual responsibility and choice prevail in society, with the private sector being the main provider of collective services.

“The UAE government has embraced innovation and set high benchmarks in government efficiency and trust,” said Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, minister of cabinet affairs and chairman of the organizing committee for the Government Summit, Federal Government of the United Arab Emirates. “We are happy that the UAE Government Summit partnership with the forum has led to a tangible and positive outcome as the Smart Toolbox, which takes trust in government as a unifying theme. It also highlights the role of UAE Government Summit as an international platform to enhance the future of the government administration around the world.”

“Leadership of informed societies requires leaders to take a progressive approach to building trust through better, more efficient and responsive governance,” added Espen Barth Eide, managing director and member of the managing board, World Economic Forum. “The World Economic Forum has partnered with the Government Summit, United Arab Emirates as part of our longstanding and strong partnership in order to showcase good governance practices from around the world attesting to the vision and the making of truly smart, technologically enabled governments.”

“ICT has a great role to play in helping governments create trust and provide leadership,” noted Joseph S. Nye Jr., chair of the Council on the Future of Government and University Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. “But to use it effectively, leaders need to be aware of how technology is changing society and how these changes in turn will place new demands on governance.”

The Smart Toolbox also includes governance best practices from a number of countries, as well as case studies written by council members, including Abdulla Al Basti, director-general, the executive office-government of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Jimmy Wales, founder and chair emeritus, board of trustees, Wikimedia Foundation.


Excerpt from Professor Jane Fountain’s contribution to the “Future of Government Smart Toolbox”