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A Manager’s Guide to Assessing the Impact of Government Social Media Interactions

June 18, 2014 Comments off

A Manager’s Guide to Assessing the Impact of Government Social Media Interactions
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

This new 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.

Many believe government has been successful in using social media over the last decade. Social media has also greatly assisted the current administration in fulfilling its Open Government Initiative to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration. Government managers now face the challenge of more effectively measuring public participation and the impact of social media outreach efforts. A key additional step involves the development of a social media strategy for an agency.

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Social Media Metrics for Government: A New Manager’s Handbook

June 11, 2014 Comments off

Social Media Metrics for Government: A New Manager’s Handbook
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

One of the most important questions to ask during a job interview or when preparing for an annual review is: “What constitutes success” or “what does success look like.” For private sector organizations, there are often very easily quantifiable metrics: number and size of sales, or year-to-year growth. Even in the nonprofit sector, there can be widely-understood metrics: rate of growth for membership lists, the volume of participants at events, or the number of calls made or postcards sent during an awareness campaign.

Unfortunately, in the public sector, there aren’t always hard-and-fast metrics. Unlike many private-sector companies, it’s not as simple for public-sector organizations simply to report that they sold more widgets than in the previous year, or that they kept the sales constant while bringing down the cost of operations. Agency missions change and evolve, and while some agencies have predictable, stable workloads that are roughly the same one year to the next, others–say, disaster relief organizations–may literally have their activities dictated to them by the caprices of the weather.

For people who plan or execute social media activities, this question–”what does success look like”–has a special piquancy. On the one hand, there are already many tools to measure many aspects of social media engagement, and many more coming online all the time. But the risk, as ever, is that agencies can look at the wrong metric and begin to tailor their social media practices in the wrong ways, distracting themselves from, rather than advancing, their goals.

A new report, “A Manager’s Guide to Assessing the Impact of Government Social Media Interactions” aims to help managers understand the tools that agencies are using to determine if their social media efforts are advancing their strategic goals. The report is grounded in Obama administration’s Open Government initiative and provides insights on how social media interactions can help increase collaboration, participation, and transparency by harnessing the use of new technologies. The insights are derived from qualitative in-depth interviews with social media managers in the U.S. federal government, review of existing social media strategies and policies, and academic literature study.

Best Practices for Succession Planning in Federal Government STEMM Positions

June 2, 2014 Comments off

Best Practices for Succession Planning in Federal Government STEMM Positions
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

Job growth in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) professions is anticipated to increase faster than the supply of students studying in these fields.

In fact, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology estimates that, given present trends, there will be one million fewer STEMM graduates over the next decade than the nation is expected to need.

The federal government has developed a strategy to close this gap for the nation as a whole, but has yet to develop a plan to close the gap for itself. The federal government today is a major employer of STEMM graduates and will need more in the years ahead. For example, more than two-thirds of NASA employees are scientists and engineers, and NASA has one of the oldest workforces in the federal government, so many NASA employees are nearing retirement.

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. These steps include:

  • Formulating a strategy for succession planning
  • Identifying, selecting, developing, and tracking leadership candidates
  • Placing candidates into leadership positions
  • Evaluating results

Adapting the Incident Command Model for Knowledge-Based Crises: The Case of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

May 14, 2014 Comments off

Adapting the Incident Command Model for Knowledge-Based Crises: The Case of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

The federal government has developed increasingly sophisticated approaches to addressing emergencies and crises. One successful management model is the incident command system (ICS), which was initially developed in the 1970s as a command-and-control approach for fighting forest fires, but has since been adapted to other policy domains. The Department of Homeland Security adopted the ICS model—which it renamed the National Incident Management System (NIMS)—and required its use at all levels of government in emergency and crisis situations.

This report is a case study of one science-based 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.

While the CDC experience is but a single case, it demonstrates that the ICS model can be applied as a governance approach outside the context in which it was originally developed—direct operational control of an emergency situation. As a result, the CDC experience in using, and successfully adapting, the ICS model may be useful in other “knowledge-based” agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Environmental Protection Agency. The report concludes with a set of recommendations to consider in applying the model to other agency settings.

Leadership in Action – The Business of Government Magazine Spring 2014

April 24, 2014 Comments off

Leadership in Action – The Business of Government Magazine Spring 2014
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

This edition of The Business of Government magazine underscores the importance of correlating short-term decision-making with long-range consequences. We highlight the latest trends and best practices for improving government effectiveness by introducing you to key government executives, detailing the work of public management practitioners, and offering insights from leading academics.

The Business of Government — Spring 2014 Edition

April 18, 2014 Comments off

The Business of Government — Spring 2014 Edition
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

We highlight the latest trends for improving government effectiveness by introducing you to key government executives, detailing the work of public management practitioners, and offering insights from leading academics.

The Persistence of Innovation in Government: A Guide for Innovative Public Servants

April 4, 2014 Comments off

The Persistence of Innovation in Government: A Guide for Innovative Public Servants
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

With this report, Professor Borins continues two decades of research analyzing winners of and applicants to the Harvard University Kennedy School’s Innovations in American Government Awards. This report presents a comparison of the applications received by the program in the 1990s (1990 to 1994) with those received in 2010. In 2001, the IBM Center for The Business of Government published The Challenge of Innovating in Government, Professor Borins’ report on his 1990s research on innovation.

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.

Implementing Big Data Projects: Lessons Learned and Recommendations

February 26, 2014 Comments off

Implementing Big Data Projects: Lessons Learned and Recommendations
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

This report, written by Kevin Desouza, Arizona State University, provides a clear and useful introduction to the concept of big data, which is receiving increasing attention as a term but also lacks a commonly understood definition. In describing big data, Prof. Desouza writes, “Big data is an evolving concept that refers to the growth of data and how it is used to optimize business processes, create customer value, and miti­gate risks.” The report also describes the differences in the use of big data in the public and private sectors.

In the next few years, nearly all public agencies will grapple with how to integrate their dispa­rate data sources, build analytical capacities, and move toward a data-driven decision-making environment. Big data is increasing in importance for public agencies, and big data programs are expected to become more prominent in the near future. Through the use of big data, ana­lytics now holds great promise for increasing the efficiency of operations, mitigating risks, and increasing citizen engagement and public value.

A key contribution of this report is its 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.

Realizing the Promise of Big Data

February 20, 2014 Comments off

Realizing the Promise of Big Data
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

Professor Desouza provides a clear and useful introduction to the concept of big data, which is receiving increasing attention as a term but also lacks a commonly understood definition. In describing big data, Desouza writes, “Big data is an evolving concept that refers to the growth of data and how it is used to optimize business processes, create customer value, and mitigate risks.” Desouza also describes the differences in the use of big data in the public and private sectors.

A key contribution of the Desouza report is his 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.

Over the last year, Professor Desouza conducted extensive interviews with chief information officers (CIOs) across the United States at the federal, state, and local level. The goal of the interviews was to better understand the implementation challenges facing CIOs and their organizations as they undertake big data projects. Desouza presents 10 key findings from his interviews. He also presents detailed descriptions of the three key stages in implementing a big data project: planning, execution, and postimplementation.

A Guide to Critical Success Factors in Agile Delivery

January 27, 2014 Comments off

A Guide to Critical Success Factors in Agile Delivery
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

Many complex IT programs are encumbered by requirements that continually change over lengthy time frames. The results are often cost overruns and schedule delays. As a result, desired mission objectives are not achieved.

Numerous studies and years of implementation experience with software development within complex IT projects provide evidence that Agile approaches, when executed correctly, improve the delivery of software and large system integration projects. For optimal results, Agile approaches must be planned, implemented with discipline, and tailored to the need of the project and the organization.

Agile delivery approaches support the federal government’s goals of doing more with less and improving the agency’s ability to manage their budgets and delivery dates.

While the Agile movement started officially in 2001, and is relatively young, most Agile concepts and practices have been applied to projects for decades. They are still popular because they have been proven to work. However, far too many problem implementations of Agile exist, and these unsuccessful implementations have generated some negativity about the Agile movement.

The purpose of this Guide is to help mission executives and program leaders understand how best to leverage Agile values, benefits, and challenges. 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 ten critical success factors for implementing an 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. We hope that this Guide will be highly useful to executives throughout the federal government as they move toward implementing Agile projects.

Four Roles for Citizen Co-Creators

January 8, 2014 Comments off

Four Roles for Citizen Co-Creators
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

A new report presents an innovative frame­work from which to view citizen “co-creation” of government services. The IBM Center for the Business of Government has released “Engaging Citizens in Co-Creation in Public Services Engaging Citizens in Co-Creation in Public Services,” which continues to explore the of public service co-creation and co-delivery, following the Center report, Beyond Citizen Engagement: Involving the Public in Co-Delivering Government Services, published in 2013. Taken together, these two reports are on the forefront of increased insight into how governments can improve services through co-creation and co-delivery.

The term “co-creation” refers to the development of new public services by citizens in partnership with governments. The authors present four roles that citizens co-creators often assume: explorer, ideator, designer, and diffuser.

+ Explorers identify/discover and define emerging and existing problems.
+ Ideators conceptualize novel solutions to well-defined problems.
+ Designers design and/or develop implementable solutions to well-defined problems.
+ Diffusers directly support or facilitate the adoption and diffusion of public service innovations and solutions among well-defined target populations.

Six Trends Driving Change in Government: Examples of Agencies Leveraging Change

December 23, 2013 Comments off

Six Trends Driving Change in Government: Examples of Agencies Leveraging Change
Source: Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

As we noted in a blog post that introduced Six Trends Driving Change in Government, Government leaders, managers, and stakeholders face major challenges, including fiscal austerity, citizen expectations, the pace of technology and innovation, and a new role for governance. These challenges influence how government executives lead today, and, more impor­tantly, how they can prepare for the future.

The Six Trends report is premised on the fact that government is in the midst of significant changes that have both near-term con­sequences and lasting impact. Such changes become more complex in nature and more uncertain in effect. At the same time, the demands on government continue to grow while the collective resources available to meet such demands are increasingly con­strained. Our report and this series are the beginning of a set of explorations that we will deepen through research and recommendations over the coming months and years.

Incident Reporting Systems: Lessons from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Organization

December 16, 2013 Comments off

Incident Reporting Systems: Lessons from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Organization
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

ncident reporting systems are an integral part of many agencies’ operations. For example, the Veterans Health Administration collects data on incidences of errors made during surgeries, the Food Safety and Inspection Service collects data on incidences of errors in meat inspection plants, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration collects data on incidences of work­place injuries.

But collecting the raw numbers of when an incident occurs does not necessarily help prevent future incidents from happening. Agency managers need to analyze operational data at a much finer level to understand why incidents occur and what can be done to pre­vent them in the future. This is often called the “black box” of performance management—understanding the relationships that connect potential changes in operations to the needed improve­ments in outputs and outcomes being measured.

In this report, Dr. Mills offers a case study of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) incident reporting systems that have evolved since the late 1990s. He describes the introduction of voluntary self-reporting of errors by air traffic controllers and the use of increasingly sophisticated electronic tracking equipment. He writes that, ironically, this better data collection initially alarmed external stakeholders—the traveling public and Congress. To them, it seemed that there was a dramatic increase in the number of operational errors. In fact, the increased reporting of incidents that had previously been undetected or unreported led to a greater understanding of trends and causal factors, thereby allowing ATO to put in place corrective actions. While this led to a safer air traffic system, it created political problems for the agency.

Dr. Mills reports that ATO overcame these political problems by creating a new risk-based reporting system for the traveling public and Congress that demonstrated that the new elements of its incident reporting systems are contributing to greater safety. Based on the experience of ATO’s evolving incident report systems, Dr. Mills offers a set of strategic, management, and analytical lessons that could be applied by other agencies that may also be in the process of increasing the sophistication of their own incident reporting systems.

Cloudy with a Chance of Success: Contracting for the Cloud in Government

December 4, 2013 Comments off

Cloudy with a Chance of Success: Contracting for the Cloud in Government
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

With the movement of government activities to leverage cloud computing, government agencies are now increasingly writing and negotiating contracts with cloud service providers. While agencies have been writing and negotiating contracts for many years, contracts for cloud services present a special set of challenges. In this important report, Shannon Tufts and Meredith Weiss present 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.

This report is based on a detailed analysis of five public sector contracts in North Carolina for cloud services. The five case studies included a local government, a state agency, a higher education institution, a local public health organization, and a K-12 public school system. Based on these case studies, the authors developed a series of recommendations for government organizations to guide them in the writing and negotiating of contracts for cloud services.

New Report: Federal Ideation Program: Challenges and Best Practices

November 7, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Federal Ideation Program: Challenges and Best Practices
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

The IBM Center for The Business of Government, is pleased to present a new report, Federal Ideation Program: Challenges and Best Practices, by Professor Gwanhoo Lee, of the Kogod School of Business at American University.

The focus of this report, “ideation platforms,” are modern tools predicated on an ancient axiom: “none of us as smart as all of us.” Though that proverb has been widely accepted, collecting and synthesizing the knowledge of “all of us” into an actionable format has been a daunting task for organizations of any great size in both the private and public sector. In the past few years, however, software developers have created numerous kinds of “ideation” tools that allow large organizations, like government agencies, to harness the collective knowledge-sharing and –generating potential of crowds.

In a basic sense, “ideation platforms” can be understood as a niche within the crowdsourcing universe—one explored in a prior Center report, “Using Crowdsourcing In Government.” But where crowdsourcing can refer to any task divided up and distributed to a large group, ideation refers specifically to posing questions or concerns for collecting, synthesizing, analyzing, or prioritizing ideas.

Many ideation tools have been approved for use by federal government agencies, and more than a few agencies have created their own ideation tools that serve their specific needs. Included in this report are examples of how federal agencies are using off-the-shelf tools and proprietary applications to harness the (brain)power of crowds to help them fulfill their mission.

Six Trends Driving Change in Government

October 30, 2013 Comments off

Six Trends Driving Change in Government
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

Today, government is in the midst of significant changes that have both near-term consequences and lasting impact. Such changes become more complex in nature and more uncertain in effect. At the same time, the demands on government continue to grow while the collective resources available to meet such demands are increasingly constrained. Government leaders, managers, and stakeholders face major challenges, including: fiscal austerity, citizen expectations, the pace of technology and innovation, and a new role for governance.

These challenges influence how government executives lead today, and, more importantly, how they can prepare for the future. To understand how government executives can move forward most effectively, the IBM Center for The Business of Government has looked across our interactions with government leaders and stakeholders, as well as the considerable work and thinking of the many outstanding authors of Center reports in recent years, and has identified a set of trends that correspond to these challenges and drive change in government. These trends—both separately and in combination—paint a path forward in responding to the ever-increasing complexity that government faces today and into the future.

Coordinating for Results: Lessons from a Case Study of Interagency Coordination in Afghanistan

October 10, 2013 Comments off

Coordinating for Results: Lessons from a Case Study of Interagency Coordination in Afghanistan
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

This report focuses on interagency coordination, which differs from many earlier IBM Center reports that have examined the use of collaboration. Dr. Yodsampa notes that collaboration implies co-equal relationships among agencies, whose participants jointly combine staff and resources to pursue a common objective. Coordination, however, occurs when agencies are not co-equal, may pursue different goals, and intend to maintain separate and distinct organizations with clearly defined boundaries and resources.

In developing this report, the author analyzes the interactions between U.S. civilian and military efforts in Afghanistan from 2001-2009. She draws on scores of confidential and candid interviews with key players, including ambassadors and generals, to identify the challenges and successes of coordination between their institutions.

She vividly describes examples of successful coordination on initiatives such as school and road construction and the 2004 Afghan national elections. These examples succeeded when the civilian and military institutions leveraged their joint funding sources and networks to achieve common goals. But she also observed instances where the lack of coordination resulted in the two institutions duplicating each other’s effort, or at worst, inadvertently undermining the other’s activities or goals. Based on her observations, she offers recommendations on how agencies can better assure effective coordination.

The Costs of Budget Uncertainty: Analyzing the Impact of Late Appropriations

October 3, 2013 Comments off

The Costs of Budget Uncertainty: Analyzing the Impact of Late Appropriations
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

This report comes at an especially opportune time, calling attention to the increasingly unpredictable federal budget process and the many challenges it creates for efficient and effective management of federal operations. But even in this environment, federal managers must still deliver services and programs as effectively and efficiently as possible. What steps can they take to do so?

By analyzing historical events and interviews with participants, Dr. Joyce describes the effects of late appropriations on federal operations over the last 35 years, and explains how federal managers have attempted to address increasingly greater levels of budget uncertainty. He also describes in compelling detail the effects—and costs—on government operations of the recent congressional practice of relying on continuing resolutions (CRs) to temporarily fund government for increasingly longer amounts of time.

This report is a very helpful guide for federal managers; state, local, and non-profit grant recipients; and federal contractors to understand the background behind continuing resolutions and how they operate, as well as the different impacts of CRs and government shutdowns.

Joyce points out that the current approach to continuing resolutions actually drives up the cost of government and reduces its effectiveness and efficiency.He offers several recommendations to the Congress, the President, and agencies on ways to ameliorate the adverse effects of continuing resolutions on agency operations.

Predictive Policing: Preventing Crime with Data and Analytics

September 26, 2013 Comments off

Predictive Policing: Preventing Crime with Data and Analytics
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

In this report, Dr. Bachner tells compelling stories of how new policing approaches in communities are turning traditional police officers into “data detectives.” Police departments across the country have adapted business techniques — initially developed by retailers, such as Netflix and WalMart, to predict consumer behavior — to predict criminal behavior. The report presents case studies of the experiences of Santa Cruz, CA; Baltimore County, MD; and Richmond, VA, in using predictive policing as a new and effective tool to combat crime.

While this report focuses on the use of predictive techniques and tools for preventing crime in local communities, these techniques and tools can also be applied to other policy arenas, as well, such as the efforts by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to predict and prevent homelessness, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s efforts to identify and mitigate communities vulnerable to natural disasters.

A Guide for Agency Leaders on Federal Acquisition

September 11, 2013 Comments off

A Guide for Agency Leaders on Federal Acquisition
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government

This report has been prepared to assist government executives in understanding one of the most complex bureaucratic processes in government: the federal procurement system. Understanding this system is one of the key ingredients to a successful tenure in government. In the past, some government executives have run into significant issues related to a lack of knowledge about federal contracting. In addition, improved management of the federal acquisition process is crucial in this era of tight budgets.

This report answers seven key questions that government executives should know about the procurement process. These questions
include:

  • Why do federal agencies contract for goods and services?
  • What is the overarching goal for any purchase?
  • What are the three basic phases of the federal acquisition life cycle?

In addition to answering these seven key questions, Professor Brown also discusses the three acquisition challenges that government executives now face. These challenges include navigating the regulatory and oversight landscape, mitigating acquisition risk through contract design, and improving the acquisition workforce. For each of these areas, Professor Brown sets forth strategies for overcoming the challenge.

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