Tag Archives: e-government

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.

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 USASpending.gov 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, USASpending.gov 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 USASpending.gov, 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.


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 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 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”

Fountain Delivers Keynote at EROPA E-Governance Seminar

May 30, 2014 – Distinguished Professor Jane Fountain, Director of the National Center for Digital Government, gave a keynote address yesterday at the International Seminar on E-Government and Modern Governance in Asia. The seminar, hosted by the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration, brought together researchers and practitioners of e-governance from around the globe. The two-day session based in Beijing aimed to accelerate the smart and intentional development of e-government throughout Asian countries.


The Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration was established in 1960 to advance the economic and social development of the region through the promotion of the study, practice and status of public administration and management.

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.