Government 2.0 Policy Analysis Exercise

This post originally appeared in my blog http://wethegoverati.wordpress.com

Every year, second year Master of Public Policy students must complete a Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) as a part of their degree. The project is an analytic and consultative professional product developed for a real-world client by Masters in Public Policy candidates under Harvard Kennedy School faculty supervision. The PAE is developed around a specific policy problem nominated by the client, with concrete policy responses and recommendations proposed by the PAE authors. Anna York and I – co-Chairs of the school’s Government 2.0 Professional Interest Group and second year MPP students – are excited to connect Government 2.0 club members to Government 2.0 projects in the field, and are seeking expressions of interest from government agencies and non-profit organizations for potential PAE projects in 2009-2010. Projects should pose a significant challenge or problem to be worked through by students, and be centered around Government 2.0:


More details about the PAE:

  • The project runs for seven months from September through March, with the bulk of the research and writing occurring from December.
  • A project appropriate for a Harvard Kennedy School PAE should be of suitable scope and complexity for completion within the 7 month project timeframe.
  • The outcome of the project will be a specific set of policy recommendations based on the research and analysis conducted by MPP students.
  • In addition to the specific policy recommendations, other project deliverables should be negotiated between the client and MPP students.
  • Any travel costs incurred by students associated with the project should also be negotiated with the client.
  • See HKS Professor Steven Kelman‘s post about the PAE (i.e. free management consulting) here.

Any ideas? If you represent and agency or an organization with a potential project or have ideas or recommendations (or examples of best practices, etc) please comment here or if you prefer email me directly at [email protected] or on twitter @yasminfodil

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Joe Boutte

Thanks for the information. I’ll pass it to those that may be interested. Do you know if PAEs have concentrated on Federal Information Technology Decision Making?

Yasmin Fodil

Hi Joe – I haven’t heard of any like that, but let me look into it. Would make a good topic, and just the kind of thing we are looking for.


Some ideas:
GovLoop, Gov 2.0 Club, IamPublicService.org, NAPA Collaboration Project, a local gov’t agency, Young Gov’t Leaders, Sunlight, any of the Open Gov associations

Mark D. Drapeau

Personally, I’d love to see National Defense University’s public profile of research, education, and outreach raised a bit. The components are not great at leveraging each other and coordinating communications with the outside (or even within DOD and the gov’t) and the military university makes very little use of new media tools.

The same is true of all military universities, though NDU is considered the “premiere” one for a number of reasons.

The new three-star running the place would probably dig this based on convos Lin Wells and I have had. I’d be happy to be a POC for that kind of analysis/research/policy rec project.

[email protected]

Stephen Buckley

Hey, you don’t even need to leave Boston!

Mass. Governor Deval Patrick has an “Office of Civic Engagement” that definitely is stuck in the one-way Web1.0 mode. Oh sure, they use Twitter and YouTube, but it’s still about what THEY want to broadcast to citizens.

Oh yeah, they do point to some blogs in various state agencies. But what does it say when THEIR office doesn’t have one? (I mean one that provides for commenting.)

They’ve been in office for 2 and half years, so it’s not like they can say “We just got here.” I’m afraid they are what may become of the White House’s new “Office of Public Engagement”, i.e., really just P.R. people trying to pass their work off as “civic/public engagement”.

I’d be interested to know their response to your offer.

Stephen Buckley

Ari Herzog


I’ve met the Gov’s “director of civic engagement” (or whatever he’s called) and they’re doing more real stuff than hype. If you follow the tweets of @massgov, you’ll realize the state’s social media initiatives are more 2-way than you suggest.

Dave Atkins

I would caution those critical of govt efforts to recognize there is often a gap between plan and action that is constrained not by lack of ideas, but by resources. I am the content manager for http://mass.gov/recovery and I work with the person Ari mentoned above regularly. The hard part is executing on the details…we have strategies for using social media to better engage with citizens and we are doing it. But plans and analysis don’t execute themselves…some needs to write the frequent blog posts, follow up and moderate the comments, search RSS feeds for content ideas, tweet, @reply, follow and message in a timely and efficient manner and, in general, devote a majority of their “mindshare” to staying on top of the conversations.

The devil is in the details. Yesterday I attended a meeting where we discussed our requirement to report job creation data from FedStim/ARRA projects…road projects…very specific data; Education funding…doesn’t fit the same methodology. Deciding how to do it right is one challenge but then we also need the cooperation of over 300 school districts in the very practical, down to earth tasks of say returning a completed Excel spreadsheet. People are working hard and conscientiously to solve these challenges but there is no magical website or silver bullet sollution that will translate the high level goals and strategy into the realization of a vision of openness and transparency.

I am new to structure and process of government; prior to starting this job, I had tons of ideas and criticism about what needed to be done. I’m learning that 1) there are many who share my idealism and 2) change is incremental. It is easy to start a blog or Tweeting, but we need to commit to doing it in a sustained manner to make it work.

Gov Girl

Great commentary. This is SO true.

Everyone wants to do the “cool” stuff….but no one wants to work to create the -content- for it.

Post all the ARRA data. OK. But is all that data in place where I can get it? It it even in an electronic format? How on earth do you expect me to make a mapping of it all when some of it is still on paper?!

Do a podcast! Great! Who will write it? About what? Does the person you want to record it have a good on-air voice?

Do a Twitter feed? Great, who will write it, maintain it? Are they a person who is approved to be the “voice” of the agency and aware of all the issues?

Post all the agency expenditures to a online database. OK, but who is going to scrub the data to validate that what is in the feed is legal for us to release freely? Who can create a data policy to guide such things?

If you want to go into these areas, and we SHOULD, you truly need someone who is a (at least semi-) dedicated content leader who is knowledgeable, authorized, and responsible for its care and feeding.

There is way more thinking that needs to be done about these things to do them right and should not be done just because everyone else is doing them. Technology is not the “silver bullet” that makes it magically happen. It involves a lot of hard work to make it look easy – if it is easy for you, it took a lot of hard work on someone’s part to make it that way!