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Publications & Results
All Publications (20)
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The Open Government Research and Development Agenda Setting Workshop was sponsored and conducted by a collaborative team from the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany, the Tetherless World Constellation (TWC) at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, the Institute for Law and Policy (IILP) at New York Law School, and Civic Commons was organized to outline a research agenda focused on opening up, federating, and using data to improve the lives of citizens. This activity report is an account of the contributions made at the workshop. Following the release of this activity report, we will focus on the analysis of the results working toward a set of recommendations and action steps.

Two important trends on openness are promoting improved accountability from government and private organizations. The case of private transparency finds its roots in consumer and other stakeholder movements. The open government movement in the US is looking for alternatives to “smart disclosure,” which implies providing consumers with better information to make better buying choices. We explore current knowledge on ethical consumption, as well as two influential technological tools to support consumer decisions. Our initial discussion suggests that the use of ontologies and data architectures, together with the appropriate policy environment and governance system, may solve some of the current problems identified.

In this paper, we propose to view the concept of open government from the perspective of an ecosystem, a metaphor often used by policy makers, scholars, and technology gurus to convey a sense of the interdependent social systems of actors, organizations, material infrastructures, and symbolic resources that can be created in technology-enabled, information-intensive social systems. We use the concept of an ecosystem to provide a framework for considering the outcomes of a workshop organized to generate a research and development agenda for open government. The agenda was produced in discussions among participants from the government (at the federal, state, and local levels), academic and civil sector communities at the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany, SUNY in April 2011. The paper begins by discussing concepts central to understanding what is meant by an ecosystem and some principles that characterize its functioning. We then apply this metaphor more directly to government, proposing that policymakers engage in strategic ecosystems thinking, which means being guided by the goal of explicitly and purposefully constructing open government ecosystems. From there, we present the research agenda questions essential to the development of this new view of government's interaction with users and organizations. Our goal is to call attention to some of the fundamental ways in which government must change in order to evolve from outdated industrial bureaucratic forms to information age networked and interdependent systems.

That electronic government information repositories are growing in number, use, and diversity is one manifestation of the emergence of e-government. These information-centered programs both shape and respond to user demand for electronic government information as computer-mediated user access has displaced traditional staff-mediated access. These programs are no longer concentrated in statistical agencies but increasingly are offered by a wide array of mission-driven operating agencies to complement their other services. This study identified the design dimensions of electronic information access programs by examining mature existing programs. These dimensions address users, uses, organizational capabilities, data characteristics, and technology. The study then explored the application and interdependence of these dimensions in three efforts to design and develop new access programs. The study produced an empirically based, testable model of observable dimensions that shape the cost, complexity, and potential performance of these programs. In addition, the article offers government managers some insight into the practical implications they will face in designing and operating electronic information access programs.

This report presents a new approach to assessing public value returns as part of an overall return on investment analysis for government information and communication technologies (ICT). The approach addresses one basic question about public value assessment: What constitutes good evidence of public value impacts? The answers provided here are intended to augment the return on investment analysis methods found in the E-Gov Economics Model: Real Impact for Better Government, developed by Microsoft. However, the approach here has potential uses beyond connection with that Model, and can be more generally useful in the assessment of public value returns to government programs and investments. The approach consists of a way to identify, collect, and interpret a variety of evidence, both quantitative and qualitative, that can be used to assess public value impacts. The approach is designed for use by government practitioners and analysts in connection with return on investment (ROI) analyses. It is particularly aimed at use in connection with the E-Gov Economics Model to examine ICT investments by national and sub-national governments. The report includes recommended methods to collect and analyze these forms of evidence.

The approach is based on prior work of the Center for Technology in Government and a thorough review of available research and professional writing on the subject of measuring public value. That review includes research in the related scientific literature and a survey of best practices reported in literature about government IT value assessment in the US and other countries. A draft version of this report was shared with a sample of knowledgeable government officials and analysts for review and comments.

This research study was designed to broaden understanding of the publishing of research datasets by distinguishing between the intention to share and the action of sharing. The data was generated from preliminary survey results conducted by DataONE work groups. The final data used in this paper is based on 587 observations. The analysis results show support for all of the path coefficients of the theoretical model except for the path of perceived self-efficacy, and legal context and policy variables. The intention to share a dataset was found to be a significant determinant in the action of sharing data. Acknowledging the key determinants of intention to publish datasets arguably entails significant policy implications on data sharing.

Information-based strategies to promote open government offer many opportunities to generate social and economic value through public use of government information. Public and political expectations for the success of these strategies are high but they confront the challenges of making government data “fit for use” by a variety of users outside the government. Research findings from a study of public use of land records demonstrates the inherent complexity of public use of government information, while research from information science, management information systems, and e-government offer perspectives on key factors associated with effective information use. The paper concludes with practical recommendations for information-based open government strategies as well as areas for future research.

This white paper is part of a year long CTG thought leadership project with SAP focused on developing new research and practical tools for helping government produce public value from their open government initiatives. In June of 2012, the paper was shared with an international group of open government experts from government, academia, and the private sector; 25 of which convened at CTG in Albany, NY at the end of June. Workshop participants provided feedback on the conceptual model presented in the paper and crowdsourced ideas for improvement. CTG is using the results from the workshop to develop a final version of the paper and identify opportunities with the workshop participants for testing and implementing the approach with governments pursuing open government initiatives.

Although disclosureis at the heart of transparency, simple disclosure does not beginto address more complicated questions about the qualitative nature of transparency and whether participation and accountability processes ensue. In this paper,we inquire about the socio-political conditions that are related to [a] qualitative aspects of budget transparency, definedin terms of three types of desirable budget content and timely disclosure of budget documents, [b]two types of public participation in budget processes, and [c] qualitative aspects of four types of audit documents. Wefound that a country's level of democratization and its level of budget document disclosure wasconsistently related to the release of qualitatively better budget content, qualitatively better accountability content and the involvement of the Supreme Audit Authority withthe public. However, neither of these factors, or any other, wasrelatedto the tendency to engage in general public participation processes related to the budget.

This paper considers open government (OG) within the context of e-government and its broader implications for the future of public administration. It argues that the current US Administration’s Open Government Initiative blurs traditional distinctions between e-democracy and e-government by incorporating historically democratic practices, now enabled by emerging technology, within administrative agencies. The paper considers how transparency, participation, and collaboration function as democratic practices in administrative agencies, suggesting that these processes are instrumental attributes of administrative action and decision making, rather than the objective of administrative action, as they appear to be currently treated. It proposes alternatively that planning and assessing OG be addressed within a “public value” framework.

The rhetoric of open government data (OGD) promises that data transparency will lead to multiple public benefits: economic and social innovation, civic participation, public-private collaboration, and public accountability. In reality much less has been accomplished in practice than advocates have hoped. OGD research to address this gap tends to fall into two streams – one that focuses on data publication and re-use for purposes of innovation, and one that views publication as a stimulus for civic participation and government accountability - with little attention to whether or how these two views interact. In this paper we use an ecosystem perspective to explore this question. Through an exploratory case study we show how two related cycles of influences can flow from open data publication. The first addresses transparency for innovation goals, the second addresses larger issues of data use for public engagement and greater government accountability. Together they help explain the potential and also the barriers to reaching both kinds of goals.

Open Government Portfolio Public Value Assessment Tool
Fri, 15 Apr 2011 (Online Resource)
The Open Government Portfolio Public Value Assessment Tool (PVAT) offers government leaders with an approach to making better informed decisions about their portfolio of open government initiatives. This tool provides a structured way to assess the public value of an initiative so that an agency can review the expected public value across their entire portfolio of open government initiatives. The information generated from using this tool can then support decisions about the mix of initiatives in a portfolio and how to adjust the mix to enhance the agency's public value

This paper is a conceptual and empirical exploration of the tensions inherent in the drive to increase openness and transparency in government by means of information access and dissemination. The idea that democratic governments should be open, accessible, and transparent to the governed is receiving renewed emphasis through the combination of government reform efforts and the emergence of advanced technology tools for information access. Although these initiatives are young, they already exhibit daunting complexity, with significant management, technology, and policy challenges. A variety of traditional and emerging information policy frameworks offer guidance, while diverse research perspectives highlight both challenges to and opportunities for promoting information-based transparency. Early experience with Data.gov, a central component of the U.S. Open Government Initiative, suggests that two fundamental information policy principles, stewardship and usefulness, can help guide and evaluate efforts to achieve information-based transparency.

The information polity perspective described in this paper provides government a way to identify the various stakeholders and their patterns of interaction that influence or control the generation, flows, and uses of enhanced information resources in open data initiatives. The dynamic modeling techniques used highlight the ways different constraints can impact the system as a whole and affect value creation. These tools support planners' ability to generate informed hypotheses about changing patterns of interaction among existing and potential new stakeholders. In this way, governments can better evaluate the costs, risks, and benefits of a wide variety of open data initiatives.

Open data policies are expected to promote innovations that stimulate social, political and economic change. In pursuit of innovation potential, open datahas expanded to wider environment involving government, business and citizens. The US government recently launched such collaboration through a smart data policy supporting energy efficiency called Green Button. This paper explores the implementation of Green Button and identifies motivations and success factors facilitating successful collaboration between public and private organizations to support smart disclosure policy. Analyzing qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with experts involved in Green Button initiation and implementation, this paper presents some key findings. The success of Green Button can be attributed to the interaction between internal and external factors. The external factors consist of both market and non-market drivers: economic factors, technology related factors, regulatory contexts and policy incentives, and some factors that stimulate imitative behavior among the adopters. The external factors create the necessary institutional environment for the Green Button implementation. On the other hand, the acceptance and adoption of Green Button itself is influenced by the fit of Green Button capability to the strategic mission of energy and utility companies in providing energy efficiency programs. We also identify the different roles of government during the different stages of Green Button implementation.

[Recipient of Best Management/Policy Paper Award, dgo2013]

Policy informatics is an emergent area of study that explores how information and communication technology can support policy making and governance. Policy informatics recognizes that more kinds, sources and volumes of information, coupled with evolving analytical and computational tools, present important opportunities to address increasingly complex social, political, and management problems. However, while new types and sources of information hold much promise for policy analysis, the specific characteristics of any particular government information resource strongly influences its fitness and usability for analytical purposes. We therefore contend thatinformation itself should be a critical research topic in policy informatics. This poster presentation shows how different aspects of information conceptualization, management, quality, and use can affect its “fitness” for policy analysis.