A Global Leader in Digital Government Research and Practice

Twenty years ago, the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) opened its doors as an applied research center at the University at Albany. It was charged by then New York Governor Mario Cuomo with “pursuing new ways of applying technologies directly to the practical problems of information management and service delivery in the public sector.” At that time, there was no cloud, nor were there government agency websites, mobile devices, or social media channels; the potential of information and technology as tools for service delivery and as a means to change the relationship between citizens and their government was just beginning to be realized. Just one year later, when the White House launched its first website, the world started to change in a way that made CTG’s work even more valuable to New York State and then to governments around the world.

Theresa Pardo
Center for Technology Director, Theresa Pardo.

CTG was the “first of its kind” providing an innovative model of public-private research partnerships where government, academia, and the corporate community could partner to experiment with technology, learning what worked, what didn’t, and why. Two years after inception, CTG was honored with an Innovations
in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation for its unique combination of problem solving, knowledge sharing, and partnerships. Today, CTG is a recognized global leader in digital government research and practice, working with governments around the world. Its scope and reach have expanded, but its overarching philosophy is unchanged. Through projects funded by the National Science Foundation, The World Bank, the United Nations, NASA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, SAP, Microsoft, and others, CTG works with government, academic, and industry partners to find innovative solutions to pressing public problems, and shares widely the insights gained and lessons learned.

From its earliest days, CTG has been a leader in developing a global digital government research community: as a key contributor to the fundamental framework for the NSF Digital Government Research Program, as a founding partner of the Digital Government Society, as host to visiting scholars from Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and as the leader of an NSF-funded effort to build international research partnerships
and to introduce young researchers from dozens of countries to digital government research and practice.

As a research enterprise, CTG focuses on the combined social and technical aspects of information use across organizational boundaries, looking at how knowledge and information are shared in multi-organizational collaborations to solve pressing public problems or deliver quality public services. While information technology is an essential part of these initiatives, the research is situated in the context of realistic political, organizational, and economic concerns. As a result, the Center not only generates new knowledge, but its work also has immediate practical value for government leaders and managers. For example, as the founding member of a Smart Cities, Smart Governments Research Practice Consortium, CTG is helping develop a robust research and practice community around urban issues. Municipal governments are now using the results to envision smart city initiatives that make use of technology and data analytics to deliver better programs and services.

The Center’s current research portfolio emphasizes open government, open data, policy modeling, data analytics, smart cities, and the capabilities governments need to innovate and leverage technologies to better serve citizens. Working with leaders and governments from places as diverse as national governments in Africa, U.S. federal agencies, and cities in New York State, CTG is exploring how public value is created through the process of opening government data and what capabilities are necessary to create that value in different settings.

CTG’s expertise also helps educate the next generation of public sector leaders. CTG researchers led the development of the curriculum and provide the core faculty for Rockefeller College’s nationally ranked program in government information strategy and management (ranked 3rd by U.S. News & World
Report). The signature courses introduce students to the interactions among policy, management, technology, and
data in government practice and then guide them through a service-learning experience where they work with government professionals to analyze and solve real-life problems facing government and non-profit agencies in New York State. In addition, dozens of masters and doctoral students have been mentored by CTG staff while they participated actively in the Center’s research projects.

Over the past 20 years, CTG has completed 75 projects, been home to five of the world’s top 10 digital government scholars, received 26 awards, published 465 times in the top journals for digital government, public administration, and information systems, and seen its work cited 9,000 times.
These numbers matter certainly, but this record of achievement is undergirded by the extensive global network of colleagues who have partnered with
CTG on its founding principle: That digital age governance, service and citizen engagement, are effective only when we understand how technology, policy, management, and information interact.