February 17, 2018


The Future of Government | Designing the Future

Data transformation, transparency, and resident input are remaking civics as we know it



ljx160902web140gov2For Jane Fountain, founder and director of the National Center for Digital Government (NCDG), harnessing technology’s power to help federal agencies collaborate and serve the people more effectively should be a priority for the next president and future administrations.

“When you think of the future of government, we have all these tools and all these capabilities that can be purchased and procured and layered on top of what you already do,” says Fountain, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “What creates transformation is when you say you know people are actually going to do their jobs in a different way, and we’re going to design our processes in a different way to take advantage of the fact that we’re in a digital world.”

Fountain also directs the Science, Technology and Society Initiative, which focuses on research and programs related to emerging ­technologies.

In March, in a report for the IBM Center for the Business of Government, Fountain wrote that the next president should appoint a chief operating officer to oversee cross-agency collaboration in order to implement a technology-based strategy. “There’s always been a need to collaborate across organizations apart from technology, but when you put the two together, I think there are now far greater opportunities for cross-boundary collaboration,” Fountain says.

Fountain also lists “cybersecurity” as a top priority for governments going forward. “That’s a big series of challenges that will have to be met,” she says.—BW

ljx160902web140readsslug2Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado (Crown, 2015)

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable,
and What We Can
Do About It  by Marc Goodman (Doubleday, 2015)

Slippery Slope: Europe’s Troubled Future by Gilles Merritt (Oxford, Aug. 2016)

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in theAge of Networks
by Joshua Cooper Ramo (Little, Brown, May 2016)

A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order
by Richard Haass (Penguin, Jan. 2017)

ljx160902web140gov1Civic Center

How to serve immigrants and new Americans is a pressing challenge for libraries nationwide, but few more so than the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), whose 73 locations serve the largest population of any U.S. system, including about 700,000 immigrants eligible for citizenship who have not yet become involved in the naturalization process. LAPL decided to be a pioneer on this issue and partner with other governmental entities to do it.

This July, LAPL served as host for the Civic Innovation Lab’s Immigration Hackathon. Part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s #techLA initiative, more than 100 programmers, activists, politicians, policy wonks, students, and residents turned out to “hack away” at issues surrounding local immigration, including creating applications and web interfaces designed to help immigrants meet the challenges of naturalization.

“It’s in our strategic interest to do this,” says John Szabo, L.A. city librarian, who spoke at the hackathon, as did Garcetti.

One account of the hackathon noted three key ­takeaways:

  •  LAPL is establishing itself as a welcoming, trusting environment.
  •  The essence of U.S. citizenship is larger than the individual parts of work, health, and education.
  •  Immigrants need not shed their heritages in order to become American citizens.

The library’s goal, according to a spokesperson, is nothing short of emerging as the most prominent destination of immigrant and life-enrichment information and programs and services for new Americans and their families in Los Angeles.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Institute of Museum and Library Services are using LAPL’s programs as a model for other municipalities, and L.A. has joined with New York and Chicago to launch “Cities for Citizenship,” a major nationwide initiative to increase naturalization.—Bob Warburton





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