The IBM Center for The Business of Government: The Year in Review, 2014

This article was originally posted by Dan Chenok to the IBM Center for the Business of Government blog.

In 2014, as has been the case for each of our past 16 years, the IBM Center engaged in many significant discussions with government leaders through our weekly radio show; benefited from groundbreaking research by a wide variety of leading academics and other stakeholders in the success of government; and published numerous articles and blogs to highlight key issues facing the public sector

The IBM Center for The Business of Government connects public management research with practice. Since 1998, we have helped public sector executives improve the effectiveness of government with practical ideas and original thinking. We sponsor independent research by top minds in academe and the non-profit sector, and we create opportunities for dialogue on a broad range of public management topics.

Since its creation 16 years ago, the Center has published over 320 reports by leading public management researchers in the academic and non-profit communities – all of which are available at our web site,  These publications focus on major management issues facing governments today: innovation, data and analytics, collaboration, cost savings and improving performance, cyber-security, acquisition, innovation, risk, and leadership.

In addition to our publications, the Center produces The Business of Government Hour – an interview program with government executives who are changing the way government does business. The Business of Government Hour has interviewed over 520 government executives about their careers, agency accomplishments and management, and the future of government in the 21st Century.

In 2014, as has been the case for each of our past 16 years, the IBM Center engaged in many significant discussions with government leaders through our weekly radio show; benefited from groundbreaking research by a wide variety of leading academics and other stakeholders in the success of government; and published numerous articles and blogs to highlight key issues facing the public sector.

As we look back on highlights from this year, the level of engagement by visitors to our website represents an important indicator of significance for this content.  In that light, we highlight here some of the most popular radio interviews, reports, and blog posts, along with links to the full content for each.

The Center looks forward to an active year of supporting governments here and abroad in 2015.  We wish our colleagues who work in government, and those who support government and have a stake in its success, a very happy holiday season!


Some Highlights From the Radio Shows


Some Highlights from the Reports

This report analyzes 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.  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.

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.  The purpose of this Guide is to help mission executives and program leaders understand how best to leverage Agile values, benefits, and challenges. The Guide sets forth ten critical success factors for implementing an Agile delivery.

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.  A key contribution of the report is DeSouva’s descriptions of how big data is being used in federal, state, and local government today.  He also presents detailed descriptions of the three key stages in implementing a big data project: planning, execution, and post implementation.

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. Mergel speculates that the next big challenge will be to measure the extent to which government actively engages the public to gain access to citizen views and expertise. Mergel also provides guidance to government managers on how they can more effectively make a business case for using social media.

This report examines 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. The authors identify six different models for how an innovation office can operate, and present examples of each of these structural models.  In addition, they identify issues that government leaders should consider in their decision to create a new innovation office, along with critical success factors for building and sustaining effective innovation offices

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.  The report concludes with recommendations for local governments across the nation.

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. The authors note that numerous forces are redefining citizen roles in the public sphere, and  offer four strategies for government leaders who wish to encourage citizen co-creation.

This report examines the literature on inter-organizational networks that has evolved over the past decade, which has been written from the perspective of a wide range of academic disciplines, such as sociology, business management, public administration, and political science.  The authors explore the types and structures of networks, their governance and leadership, their evolution over time, and how they are evaluated for effectiveness.


Some Highlights From the Blogs

This post is the first in a series on the recently-passed Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010. The bill is 19 pages long and the media has not provided the level of detail that a performance wonk might find helpful. So I’ll be providing summaries and extracts from law and the Senate committee report over the next few days.

Silicon Valley is known for its technology, not its management, innovations. But some of its management innovations are worth looking at. It is comprised of simple and unadorned bullet points for the most part, but there are the five tenets that Netflix has developed to attract, retain, and reward talent.

The best intelligence requires the integration of five functional disciplines – signals, human, open source, geospatial, and measurement and signatures intelligence.

The Center for The Business of Government discusses trends in six different areas that are driving government to approach mission and business challenges differently:  performance, risk, innovation, mission support, efficiency, and leadership.

There are 89 agency priority goals in 23 of the major departments and agencies. Of these, 33 are new and the rest are extensions of goal commitments previously made in the 2012-2013 round.

The successes and failures of U.S civil-military reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan serve as the basis for lessons learned in creating effective inter-agency coordination.

Police departments across the U.S. are piloting crime prevention programs that rely on a smart analysis of historical crime data in neighborhoods across their cities. And they are finding that they can cut burglaries by as much as 27 percent.

Sometimes it is refreshing to look at how other countries approach the challenge of measuring and managing performance in their governments.  At a World Bank seminar where the Secretary of Performance Management for the Government of India described how his country is doing it.

Does it make any sense for the government to think long term? One agency, NASA, developed a 200-year strategic plan, at one point. They engaged futurists and science fiction writers to help develop a plan for interplanetary exploration. Maybe it makes sense for NASA, but what about other agencies?

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