Fountain delivers keynote at ICEGOV2017 in New Delhi, India

Jane Fountain, Director of NCDG, and Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, delivered a keynote address on March 8, 2017 at ICEGOV2017, one of the world’s foremost international research conferences on digital government and knowledge societies. This year’s conference took place in Delhi, India.

Fountain’s keynote was titled “Political Priorities and Administrative Performance: Building Cross-Agency Capacity.”

Fountain’s keynote address was based in part on her recent research, including:

Building an Enterprise Government: Creating an ecosystem for cross-agency collaboration

Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010: Examining Constraints to, and Developing Tools for, Cross-Agency Collaboration

Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers

The ICEGOV2017 conference theme was “Building Knowledge Societies: From Digital Government to Digital Empowerment.” At the conference, Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched Open Forge – the Government of India’s platform for open collaborative software development of e-Governance applications based on open data and open standards — and introduced the Digital India Global Roadmap, an action plan connecting the goals of Digital India with the United Nations Development Program sustainable development goals.

Fountain attended the conference, and associated planning meetings for the Digital India program, as a guest of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. The conference was organized by the Ministry through its Digital India Program and by the United Nations University. The conference presented peer-reviewed papers from 60 countries.

Recommendations to Build Cross-Agency Collaboration for the Next Administration

Fountain March 2016 cover

Today’s political and policy challenges – like veteran homelessness, sustainable communities, federal permitting and review, cybersecurity – demand greater cross-boundary capacity, that is, the ability of government to use cross-agency collaboration, partnerships and a range of enterprise approaches to solve problems. And new technologies make information sharing and streamlining possible. Yet governments remain too fragmented with agencies working “silos” without sufficient communication and knowledge sharing.

NCDG Director Professor Fountain’s new white paper, Building an Enterprise Government: Creating an Ecosystem for Cross-Agency Collaboration in the Next Administration, makes recommendations for building enterprise approaches in government. It was published on Monday, March 14, 2016 jointly by the Partnership for Public Service and IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Fountain’s report recommends that transition teams and the next administration should determine the presidential priorities and goals that are likely to require multiple agencies to work together. The White House should include executive talent in the form of a chief operating officer to focus on those cross-agency priorities when other matters threaten to divert attention. Over the past 25 years an emerging ecosystem of institutional actors has grown up to support cross-agency and enterprise teams. This institutional network is vital to enterprise and cross-agency approaches. It’s potential as a source of knowledge, strong practice and communication should be leveraged by government executives.

A group of current and former government officials gathered in Washington, D.C. in September, convened by the Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for the Business of Government to examine how to develop such approaches and to make recommendations for the next presidential administration. Professor Fountain captured the central themes of this roundtable discussion and built on her own research during more than two decades to recommend concrete steps the transition teams and next administration should take to develop the ability to work across agency boundaries.

The report is part of a series of five white papers to develop a Management Roadmap for the next administration and is included in the Partnership’s Center for Presidential Transition Ready to Government initiative.


Jane Fountain, NCDG Director, at 2016 World Government Summit in Dubai


IMG_20160208_012715024_HDRJane Fountain, Director of NCDG, was invited to participate in the 4th World Government Summit at the invitation of His Highness Lt General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the United Arab Emirates. The Summit was held from 8-10 February in Dubai under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Fountain, Distinguished University Professor, Political Science and Public Policy, is the Chair of the Political Science Department and Director of the National Center for Digital Government.

Jane Fountain big dataThe World Government Summit focuses on shaping governments of the future and improving government service delivery through innovation. Billed as the largest annual government gathering in the world, the Government Summit serves as a global platform by gathering officials, thought leaders, policy makers and business leaders dedicated to developing the future of government.

This is not Fountain’s first visit to the region. As former Chair, Vice Chair and current member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government she has participated in summits and meetings in the UAE for the past seven years and previously worked with executives and government leaders at the Dubai School of Government.

IMG_20160209_124006945_HDRAt the Summit, Fountain heard President Barack Obama, who gave the keynote address by video; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, who discussed the growing influence of the UAE as a force for innovation and change in the Middle East and Africa; Muhammed Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and President of Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice.

During her visit, Fountain also met with US Ambassador to the UAE, Barbara Leaf, to discuss digital government, cybersecurity policy and innovation. Fountain was joined at the meeting, which took place at the US Embassy, by Hon. Chester Atkins, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives; and by Boston University Professor Jessica Stern, terrorism expert and policy consultant. Fountain said, “The UAE is one of fastest growing nations in the world and has the region’s most highly developed infrastructure. It has become an international leader in important areas of government innovation and use of technology. While its path is quite different from that of the west, it is a country that merits close observation for its impressive innovations.”

Jane Fountain with Hon. Chester Atkins at the World Government Summit
Jane Fountain with Hon. Chester Atkins at the World Government Summit

Fountain also met with principals and analysts at Hedayah, one of the world’s top international institutes dedicated to countering violent extremism through research, analysis, dialogue, communication and capacity building. Hedayah’s activities range from counter-messaging and work with former fighters and victims of terrorism to police training, the role of women, empowering communities, participatory approaches, national strategies and legal issues in prevention of terrorism.

Jane Fountain with UMass alumns and Robotics for Good winners
Jane Fountain with UMass alumns and Robotics for Good winners

Among the highlights of the Summit was the UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good. The award supports innovations in artificial intelligence and robotics that focus on practical areas of value to society such as health, social services and education. Two UMass Amherst alumni – Michael McKinley and Maciej Pietrusinki, both of whom received Bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering – were members of the teams that won first and third place, respectively. McKinley’s team, SUITX, has developed affordable exoskeletons for children with neurological disorders. Pietrusinki is founder and president of AndrosRobotics LLC, which developed a robotic leg advancement device that administers gait training therapy to stroke and other neurological patients.

The Summit featured an Innovation Lab. Among the displays:

Rats trained to detect land mines and TB
China works with Baidu, the UN and others to pay citizens to recycle e-waste to prevent pollution
Drones for emergency relief in hard to reach areas.
Patient centered medicine


Dubai will soon launch the Museum of the Future in a building suitably designed fit for its purpose.



IMG_20160208_045247800 Beyond facial recognition … detecting emotion from facial images






Prototype exhibits at the Summit examined human enhancement, facial recognition, robotics and more.




Thought provoking exhibits on human augmentation




Events such as the World Government Summit are critical for global information sharing and knowledge transfer. It is impressive to see the Emiratis take the lead in such an important international gathering.


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.

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.


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.

The political context of

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

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.


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