A Renewed Focus on Research that Can Benefit Government


A Renewed Focus on Research that Can Benefit Government

Monday, February 16th, 2015 - 1:00
Monday, February 16, 2015 - 17:19
Over the past two years, the IBM Center for The Business of Government has sponsored dozens of reports and engagement that focus on a research agenda based on input from a cross-section of government executives and stakeholders.

These leaders helped frame challenges that government faced where sustained analysis and recommendations could point to new opportunities for improvement, constituting the foundation for "Six Trends Driving Change in Government" that frames our research agenda. The six trends are:

  • Performance: Moving from Measurement to Action
  • Risk: Managing and Communicating Risk
  • Innovation: Leveraging Analytics to Drive Transformation
  • Efficiency: Pursuing Cost-Savings Strategies in a Resource-Constrained Era
  • Mission: Aligning Mission Support with Mission Delivery
  • Leadership: Collaborating across Boundaries in an Era of Complex Challenges

The Center has been privileged to share groundbreaking research and actionable recommendations across these six trend areas over the past two years; below is a summary of such reports, along with links to each report for those interested in further research. Interestingly while authors who work with the Center have developed a strong body of work in the areas of performance, innovation, and efficiency, we have seen less content that addresses risk, mission alignment, and collaborative leadership. In our forthcoming research cycle for proposals due April 1, we will be especially attuned to research focused in these three areas, even as we continue to accept proposals across the broader range of research topics

At the same time, we are beginning a process of assessing whether these areas continue to reflect government challenges and priorities. We will exploring issues in the coming months that can help identify whether there are new drivers for research that can improve government, which may replace, modify, or extend these current trend topics. We welcome thoughts from leaders and stakeholders in government, academia, and related fields on how best to move forward in leveraging original thinking to shed new light on hard problems facing the public sector - which is a central element of the Center's mission.

Reports that Address "Six Trends Driving Change In Government:"

A Manager's Guide to Assessing the Impact of Government Social Media Interactions
This report addresses the key question of how government should measure the impact of its social media use. This question is gaining increased attention within government as agencies rely more heavily on social media to interact with the public, including disseminating information to citizens.

Adapting the Incident Command Model for Knowledge-Based Crises: The Case of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This report is a case study of one agency-the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services-which sought to use the standard NIMS model but ultimately developed a significantly revised approach to incident management. The report finds that the transformation happened because the CDC is required to produce authoritative knowledge during a crisis. This calls for a different response structure than might work for direct, frontline operations.

Four Actions to Integrate Performance Information with Budget Formulation
This report offers a series of recommendations that: (1) engage agency leaders, (2) focus attention on conducting better analyses, (3) improve the budget formulation process, and (4) reform agency budget accounts and cost estimating approaches.

Incident Reporting Systems: Lessons from the Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic Organization
This report offers a case study of the Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic Organization incident reporting systems that have evolved since the late 1990s. The report describes the introduction of voluntary self-reporting of errors by air traffic controllers and the use of increasingly sophisticated electronic tracking equipment.

Defining a Framework for Decision Making in Cyberspace
The report makes a series of recommendations for leaders to consider in developing a greater understanding of cyberspace, including the value of a broad and commonly accepted definition to help guide management actions in cyberspace. The panel of experts found that a better definition of cyberspace was needed, as well as an increased understanding of the concept of "strategic domains."

Risk Management for Grants Administration: A Case Study of the Department of Education
In this report, Kwak and Keleher examine the experience of the U.S. Department of Education in implementing risk management initiatives.

A Guide for Making Innovation Offices Work
In this report, Burstein and Black examine the recent trend toward the creation of innovation offices across the nation at all levels of government to understand the structural models now being used to stimulate innovation-both internally within an agency, and externally for the agency's partners and communities.

Participatory Budgeting: Ten Actions to Engage Citizens via Social Media
Dr. Gordon's report offers an overview of the state of participatory budgeting, and the potential value of integrating social media into the participatory process design. Dr. Gordon's report details three case studies of U.S. communities that have undertaken participatory budgeting initiatives. While these case studies are relatively small in scope, they provide insights into what potential users should consider if they want to develop their own initiatives. She also identifies several nonprofit organizations with participatory budgeting experience that have been helping communities by sharing best practices and technologies.

The Persistence of Innovation in Government: A Guide for Innovative Public Servants
Professor Borins has found that innovation is alive and well and persisting at all levels of government in the United States, with both shifts and continuities from the 1990s to 2010. One of the most significant findings by Professor Borins is the increasing proportion of innovation initiatives involving collaboration. In 2010, 65 percent of the innovation applicants reported external collaboration as a project component-more than double the 28 percent reported in the 1990s. Nearly 60 percent of the applicants also reported collaboration within government. Significantly, award semifinalists in 2010 reported an even higher incidence of collaboration, with over 80 percent of the semifinalists reporting external collaboration and collaboration within government.

Engaging Citizens in Co-Creation in Public Services
Professors Nambisan and Nambisan present an innovative framework from which to view citizen "co-creation," which refers to the development of new public services by citizens in partnership with governments. The authors present four roles that citizens can play in the co-creation of public services: explorer, ideator, designer, and diffuser, with examples of citizens playing each of these roles.

Cloudy with a Chance of Success: Contracting for the Cloud in Government
This report presents a detailed analysis of 12 major issues that need to be addressed in all cloud contracts. In addition to traditional issues such as pricing, cloud computing contracts require that a variety of data assurance issues be addressed, including data ownership, access to data, disposition of data, data breaches, and data storage location.

Federal Ideation Programs: Challenges and Best Practices
Many ideation tools have been approved for use by federal government agencies, and more than a few agencies have created their own ideation tools to serve their specific needs. Included in this report are examples of how four federal agencies are using off-the-shelf tools and proprietary applications to harness the knowledge of crowds to help the agencies fulfill their mission.

Realizing the Promise of Big Data
This report provides a clear and useful introduction to the concept of big data as well as the differences in the use of big data in the public and private sectors. The report provides descriptions of how big data is being used in federal, state, and local government today. His examples include the Internal Revenue Service, the state of Massachusetts, and the New York City Business Integrity Commission.

A Guide to Critical Success Factors in Agile Delivery
The purpose of this Guide is to help mission executives and program leaders understand how best to leverage Agile values and benefits. Agile can be used as a tool to leverage IT in a way that minimizes time and cost and maximizes mission and operational effectiveness. This Guide sets forth 10 critical success factors for implementing Agile delivery. The critical success factors are based on lessons learned from delivering large, complex projects and programs, as well as formal assessments of troubled Agile initiatives.

Eight Actions to Improve Defense Acquisition
The authors present eight significant actions that the federal government can take to improve the federal acquisition process. While the report centers on acquisition in the Department of Defense (DoD) because of its dominant size in the federal budget, the eight proposed actions-which build on previous acquisition reforms including increased competition, more use of best value contracts, expanding the supplier base, and better tailoring of contract types to contract goals-apply to civilian agencies as well. The authors emphasize the urgency of acquisition reform in DoD given budgetary constraints and security challenges, finding that "DoD will need to gain every possible efficiency, while resisting the temptation to buy defense on the cheap."

Managing Budgets During Fiscal Stress: Lessons for Local Government Officials
This report analyzes the financial experiences of California local governments from 2007 to 2013 and present findings and recommendations for managing at the local level given budget constraints. Like many local governments across the nation, cities and counties in California were impacted heavily by recent economic problems. This report examines what happened to local California government revenues during this period, which services have been adjusted, how employee benefits have been treated, and what innovations have been introduced.

Data to Decisions III
This report examines long term analytic programs, which offer a better understanding of how these programs have advanced and evolved over time to be a sustainable component of a program's operation. The report highlights five analytic efforts including: U.S. Agency for International Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Defense Department, the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Veterans Health Administration. Based on these cases, the authors identify a series of lessons that they saw as important if analytics are to be successfully embedded in an agency's culture.

Conversations on Big Data
Between 2011 and 2013, the Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for the Business of Government collaborated on three reports on using data to improve decision-making. Conversations on Big Data includes podcast conversations that are designed to broaden the perspective to additional agencies as well as revisit some of those covered in the reports; provide insights into the essential ingredients for a successful analytics program; and offer advice from leaders whose agencies are benefiting from analyzing data.

Best Practices for Succession Planning in Federal Government STEMM Positions
This report outlines six steps for federal agencies dependent on STEMM employees to take now. The report also discusses how agencies' STEMM leaders and human capital staffs can work together to ensure that their agencies have the right mix of expertise to meet mission requirements today and in the future.

Inter-Organizational Networks: A Review of the Literature to Inform Practice
This report examines the literature on interorganizational networks that has evolved over the past decade, written from a wide range of academic disciplines including sociology, business management, public administration, and political science. The authors note that different disciplines often use a variety of terms to describe the same phenomena, which has made the literature less accessible to practitioners in government.