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Building a Policy Informatics Network
Summary
The emergence of social media, open government, big data, and ICT-based forms of public participation, transparency and accountability hold promise for improving democratic processes and tackling intractable societal problems. Thanks to these trends, more sources, kinds, and amounts of information are infused into public interactions and policy decisions. However, these same technological and data-driven forces are significantly challenging traditional forms of governance, policy analysis, and service design. To address these challenges, we need a new kind of collaboration between research and practice and across academic disciplines. This situation presents both challenges and opportunities:
  • the problems of ICT-supported policy making and governance are multi-faceted and therefore multidisciplinary
  • these problems occur world-wide and therefore encompass different cultural approaches to research, development, and application
  • the problems are both social and technical and thus demand integrated efforts across disciplines to develop and deploy innovative approaches and tools that are usable in practice settings.
CTG is involved in cultivating a new community of inquiry and practice (CoIP) within the public policy research and management arena, which is coming to be known as policy informatics. The goal of policy informatics is to find effective ways to use information and computation to understand and tackle complex problems of society. This goal demands not only new tools and methods, but a re-alignment of interests and relationships within the academic community and across research, education, and practice.
 
Project Components
eGovPoliNet/Crossover Consortium
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The eGovPoliNet/Crossover Consortium, sponsored by the European Commission FP7 research program, represents an expanding international network of research institutions investigating these globally important challenges. As a consortium member, under a grant from the NSF, CTG is conducting a literature review on research in the US focusing on the use of ICTs for policy modeling, governance, and related topics such as evidence-based policy making and policy informatics. This work has the potential to identify universal factors and to understand how the same challenges play out differently in different cultural and political settings.
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Creating an informatics community among policy analysts
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CTG has been involved in an Ad Hoc Committee on Policy Informatics within the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM). The committee aims to organize conference panels, symposia, and workshops to address the dual themes of complexity and computation in the public policy process. The group has launched a website and Listserv and will continue to organize a thematic track within APPAM for future conferences and journal issues.
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Supporting Public Policy and Governance: The Emerging Role of Policy Informatics
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In April 2013, CTG and collaborators will coordinate a panel of papers that focuses on the emerging role of policy informatics in supporting public policy and governance at the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) annual conference. Hosted in Prague, Czech Republic, the 2013 conference is expected to bring together academics and practitioners from different world regions addressing issues related to the topic of the conference.
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