Publications

    Deploying the Once-Only Policy: A Privacy-Enhancing Guide for Policymakers and Civil Society Actors

    Naeha Rashid, November 2020 

    The once-only policy (OOP) is increasingly seen by some digital government experts as central to establishing a national digital government strategy and as a gateway to next-generation government services. Once-only is so called because users (citizens, residents, and businesses) have to provide diverse data only one time when in contact with public administrations; after the initial data transfer, different parts of government can internally share and reuse this data to create public value and better service for users. 

    Members of the digital government community are excited by the potential of OOPs to create public value and reduce the cost of government, and I want to help governments harness this potential. I am also deeply concerned by the potential for OOPs to concentrate and increase state power and the negative impact this could have on individuals’ privacy, freedoms, and capacity to dissent. 

    The goal is to harness the benefits of OOP while minimizing the risks, to create a world in which the power of the state is counterbalanced by the power of its citizenry. This document outlines the key policy questions and concerns that must be addressed by governments intending to implement an OOP. It is designed to help stakeholders—including policymakers in government and interested parties in civil society—ask key questions during the development of OOP-facilitating infrastructure, specifically identity- and data-sharing mechanisms, and the development of OOP strategy. 

    This document is not to intended to encourage or prescribe a specific pathway of development, but to consolidate and present a compendium of the key considerations at each stage. This work is based on an extensive literature review across the areas of privacy, identification, data sharing, and OOP; interviews with experts in the field; and mini case studies highlighting different lessons of implementation from five countries—the Netherlands, Estonia, the UK, Canada, and Australia—with diverse approaches and at very different stages of OOP maturity. 

    Read the full report

    Read the Deploying the Once-Only Policy Supplement

    Getting Value from Workforce Stimulus Investments: What Works in Youth Workforce Programs and How to Grow the Evidence Base

    Jane Wiseman, November 2020 

    The current economic crisis will likely inspire federal investment in training for unemployed and underemployed Americans. When funds are made available for youth workforce development, transparent reporting and publication of results data should be required. User-friendly reports should be created that enable unemployed and underemployed Americans to see which training providers achieve the best results, much as the current College Scorecard helps youth and their families evaluate colleges. This will benefit program recipients, the taxpayer, and society at large. Evidence about what works for youth workforce development is still in an early stage of maturity, so upcoming investments present an opportunity to advance the state of knowledge. With this data and insight, future investments can continue to fund effective programs and ineffective ones can be discontinued.

    Gustetic, Jenn, Carlos Teixeira, Becca Carroll, Joanne Cheung, Susan O’Malley, and Megan Brewster. 2020. “Policy Prototyping for the Future of Work”. Read the full report Abstract

    Jenn Gustetic, Carlos Teixeira, Becca Carroll, Joanne Cheung, Susan O'Malley, and Megan Brewster; June 2020

    The future of work will require massive re-skilling of the American workforce for which current policy “toolboxes” for economics, labor, technology, workforce development and education are often siloed and antiquated. To meet the needs of tomorrow’s workers, today’s policy makers must grapple with these interdisciplinary policy issues.

    This report describes a novel design-driven approach we developed to create policy “prototype” solutions that are inherently interdisciplinary, human-centered, and inclusive for the future of work. Using our design-driven approach, we collaborated with more than 40 interdisciplinary and cross-sector thinkers and doers to generate 8 distinct policy prototypes to support the future of work.

    2019 State of Digital Transformation
    Eaves, David, and Georges Clement. 2020. “2019 State of Digital Transformation”. Read the full report Abstract

    David Eaves, Georges Clement; May, 2020

    In June of 2019, the Harvard Kennedy School hosted digital service teams from around the world for our annual State of Digital Transformation convening. Over two days, practitioners and academics shared stories of success, discussed challenges, and debated strategy around the opportunities and risks digital technologies present to governments.

    Teams that joined us for the summit used different approaches and methodologies in vastly different contexts. Some governments—such as those of Estonia and Bangladesh—were building on decade or more of experience refining already-advanced practices; others—such as the state of Colorado’s—were still getting ready to formally launch. Some had deep connections across their entire executive branch; others were tightly focused within a single agency.

    Despite these differences, many key themes emerged throughout the convening. This paper contains reflections from the Summit. 

    Prioritizing Public Value in the Changing Mobility Landscape

    Stephen Goldsmith and Betsy Gardner, January 2020

    In this paper we will look at the values and goals cities affect with policies concerning connected mobility, and how to create a new framework that aligns with these objectives. First, we identify the transformative changes affecting cities and mobility. Second, we discuss in more detail the guiding values and goals that cities have around mobility with examples of these values in practice. Our next paper, Effectively Managing Connected Mobility Marketplaces, discusses the different regulatory approaches that cities can leverage to achieve these goals.

    We recommend that cities identify various public values, such as Equity or Sustainability, and use these to shape their transit policy. Rather than segmenting the rapidly changing mobility space, cities should take advantage of the interconnectivity of issues like curb space management, air quality, and e-commerce delivery to guide public policy. Cities must establish a new system to meet the challenges and opportunities of this new landscape, one that is centered around common values, prioritizes resident needs, and is informed by community engagement.

    In conclusion, cities must use specific public values lenses when planning and evaluating all the different facets of mobility. Transportation has entered a new phase, and we believe that cities should move forward with values- and community-driven policies that frame changing mobility as an opportunity to amend and improve previous transportation policies.

    This paper is the first in the Mobility in the Connected City series.

    Read the second paper "Effectively Managing Connected Mobility Marketplaces" 

    Effectively Managing Connected Mobility Marketplaces

    Stephen Goldsmith and Matt Leger, February 2020

    As new innovations in mobility have entered the marketplace, local government leaders have struggled to adapt their regulatory framework to adequately address new challenges or the needs of the consumers of these new services. The good news is that the technology driving this rapid change also provides the means for regulating it: real-time data. It is the responsibility of cities to establish rules and incentives that ensure proper behavior on the part of mobility providers while steering service delivery towards creating better public outcomes. Cities must use the levers at their disposal to ensure an equitable mobility marketplace and utilize real-time data sharing to enforce compliance. These include investing in and leveraging physical and digital infrastructure, regulating and licensing business conducted in public space, establishing and enforcing rules around public safety, rethinking zoning and land use planning to be transit-oriented, and regulating the digital realm to protect data integrity.

    This paper is the second in the Mobility in the Connected City series. 

    Read the first paper  "Prioritizing Public Value in the Changing Mobility Landscape"

    Science, Technology, & Democracy: Building a Modern Congressional Technology Assessment Office

    Zach Graves and Daniel Schuman, January 2020

    This paper offers recommendations and a road map for the future success of a restarted technology assessment office in Congress. We look at three potential approaches: (1) Building up the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s OTA-like capacity in its newly created Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team, and giving it greater resources and structural autonomy; (2) Reviving OTA but updating its procedures and statutory authority; and (3) A hybrid approach wherein both GAO and a new OTA develop different capacities and specializations. (Spoiler: we favor the third approach.)
     
    The next section of this paper reviews what OTA was and how it functioned. The third section discusses the history of and rationale for the defunding of OTA, other cuts to Congress’s S&T capacity, and why this congressional capacity and expertise matter for democracy. The fourth section reviews efforts to revive OTA and other efforts to build new congressional S&T capacity. The fifth section discusses the political landscape for building S&T capacity, including the legislative branch appropriations process and the different political constituencies for S&T. The final section offers a detailed discussion of various structural recommendations for a new congressional technology assessment office, including an expanded STAA unit in GAO, and a new OTA.
     

    Richard Pope, November 2019

    Looking around the world, we can see a different approach to digital government. One of cross-government platforms that are beginning to break down organizational silos, save money and change the types of services that can be delivered to the public. This playbook is written for practitioners, from public sector product managers to chief digital officers, looking for approaches to implementing platforms in government. 

    Edited by David Eaves, October 2019

    In this report, experts analyze the Council of Arab Economic Unity's comprehensive digital strategy for the Arab region. While some countries have individually launched digital economy roadmaps in recent years, the Arab Digital Economy Strategy offers a new opportunity to consider the benefits and challenges of digital cooperation across countries. Specifically, this report details areas of concern and explores some potential resolutions to these challenges.

    Stephen Goldsmith, January 2019

    More people than ever live in cities, where the dominant mode of transportation continues to be single-occupant personal vehicles. This has created unprecedented burdens on city infrastructure and increased congestion on roads in urban centers. Increased congestion has resulted in greater greenhouse gas emissions, lower reliability of public transit systems, longer commutes, and an overall lower quality of living for citizens.

    These challenges have created fertile ground for private-sector innovation within the mobility ecosystem. Thus far, the most significant private sector innovation in urban mobility has been ridesharing. Conventional wisdom attributes the birth of rideshare to the proliferation of smartphones and improvements in wireless connectivity and location data in cities. However, the ridesharing industry also relies on dependability and reliability of free public roads, which were a critical component in the development of the modern car-friendly city. Unfortunately, these same public roads lack the infrastructure to coordinate and interact with digital-first services as effectively as they coordinate the physical movement of people and goods.
     

    Craig Campbell, January 2019

    At a 2016 meeting of leading municipal analytics practitioners and experts at the Harvard Kennedy School, Johns Hopkins GovEx’s then-director of advanced analytics, Carter Hewgley, assessed the opportunities for analytics replication: “The good news is that problems and opportunities in U.S. cities are similar, meaning there is unending replication potential,” he said. The bad news was that lack of good protocols for use case discovery, challenges accessing and standardizing data, and uneven investment in data-literate human capital make analytics use cases difficult to generalize and import into different cities. At a time when the value of predictive analytics is widely recognized as a tool for better decision making and “chief data officer” is an increas- ingly common title in municipal government, cities still face the same challenges adopting analytical models into routine operations they have faced for decades.

    Scott Becker and Stephen Goldsmith, October 2018 

    Increasingly, governments across the country are turning to cooperative procurement for greater value. Joining with other entities can significantly reduce administrative costs and leverage the benefits of economies of scale. In recent years, cooperatives have evolved to provide a wider variety of benefits to procurement officials and vendors, offering increasingly complex services adaptable to a growing participant pool. Expansion of offerings and targeted attention to best-in-class contracts have furthered their value proposition. This paper intends to provide insight into today’s cooperative procurement market, evaluate value propositions and challenges, and present strategies for success. 

    Jessica A. Gover, July 2018 

    How the Civic Analytics Network Cities Are Using Data to Support Public Safety, Housing, Public Health, and Transportation 

     

    From remediating blight to optimizing restaurant inspections and pest control, cities across the country are using analytics to help improve municipal policy and performance. The continued adoption of analytics in city governments shows no sign of slowing, and as even more sophisticated tools such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are deployed, there is a critical need for research on how these practices are reshaping urban policy. By examining and capturing lessons learned from city-level analytics projects, practitioners and theorists alike can better understand how data- and tech-enabled innovations are affecting municipal governance. This report seeks to contribute to that developing field.

     

    Jun Jie Woo, May 2018 

    Decades of rapid economic growth and urbanization in Singapore have given rise to new and increasingly complex policy problems. Singapore’s policymakers have sought to address these problems by leveraging emerging technological solutions such as data analytics. This has culminated in the “Smart Nation” initiative, a nationwide and whole-of-government effort to digitize Singapore’s policy processes and urban environment. More importantly, the initiative has given rise to administrative reorganization and increased state-citizen engagement. These changes portend more fundamental shifts in Singapore’s governing milieu.

    A New City O/S: The Power of Open, Collaborative, and Distributed Governance
    Goldsmith, Stephen, and Neil Kleiman. 2017. A New City O/S: The Power of Open, Collaborative, and Distributed Governance. Brookings Institution Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Stephen Goldsmith and Neil Kleiman, Brookings, November 2017

    At a time when trust is dropping precipitously and American government at the national level has fallen into a state of long-term, partisan-based gridlock, local government can still be effective—indeed more effective and even more responsive to the needs of its citizens. Based on decades of direct experience and years studying successful models around the world, the authors of this intriguing book propose a new operating system (O/S) for cities. Former mayor and Harvard professor Stephen Goldsmith and New York University professor Neil Kleiman suggest building on the giant leaps that have been made in technology, social engagement, and big data.

    Calling their approach “distributed governance,” Goldsmith and Kleiman offer a model that allows public officials to mobilize new resources, surface ideas from unconventional sources, and arm employees with the information they need to become pre-emptive problem solvers. This book highlights lessons from the many innovations taking place in today’s cities to show how a new O/S can create systemic transformation.

    Hila Mehr, August 2017

    From online services like Netflix and Facebook, to chatbots on our phones and in our homes like Siri and Alexa, we are beginning to interact with artificial intelligence (AI) on a near daily basis. AI is the programming or training of a computer to do tasks typically reserved for human intelligence, whether it is recommending which movie to watch next or answering technical questions. Soon, AI will permeate the ways we interact with our government, too. From small cities in the US to countries like Japan, government agencies are looking to AI to improve citizen services. This paper explores the various types of AI applications, and current and future uses of AI in government delivery of citizen services, with a focus on citizen inquiries and information. It also offers strategies for governments as they consider implementing AI.

    Jane Wiseman, February 2017 

    A Chief Data Officer (CDO) can lead a city or state toward greater data-driven government. Data-driven executive leadership in government is relatively new, with just over a dozen cities and a handful of states having named a CDO as of late 2016. Leveraging data enables more responsive and rational allocation of government resources to address priority public needs. There is growing momentum and increasingly frequent news of the next government CDO appointment. While there is a growing proliferation of CDOs in government, there are few resources that describe the landscape, either for the benefit of the chief executive appointing a CDO or the new CDO taking office. This paper intends to help new entrants by documenting selected current practices, including advice shared by existing government CDOs, observations by the author, and analysis from government technology and analytics experts.

    The City of Boulder and Code for America partnered on “Housing Boulder,” the community engagement process that would inform Boulder’s 2015/2016 Housing Action Plan. While this case study documents our work on a housing-related project, we believe our engagement tactics are relevant to a much broader audience. As a result, this case study also offers a series of recommendations to help governments begin using 21st-century civic engagement strategies that creatively combine in-person and digital channels.
    The City of Boulder and Code for America partnered on “Housing Boulder,” the community engagement process that would inform Boulder’s 2015/2016 Housing Action Plan. While this case study documents our work on a housing-related project, we believe our engagement tactics are relevant to a much broader audience. As a result, this case study also offers a series of recommendations to help governments begin using 21st-century civic engagement strategies that creatively combine in-person and digital channels.

    Gigi Georges, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Andrea McGrath, June 2013 

    This paper is the first in a miniseries that explores emerging strategies to strengthen the civic, institutional, and political building blocks that are critical to developing novel solutions to public problems — what the authors call the “innovation landscape.” The miniseries builds on past research addressing social innovation and on The Power of Social Innovation (2010) by HKS Professor Stephen Goldsmith.

    In this first paper, the authors introduce readers to the nature of the work by highlighting current efforts to drive innovation in Boston, Denver, and New York City. They also orient the miniseries within the robust discourse on government innovation.

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