Poster Paper: E-Governance in Public Management

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Regency Ballroom (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Wallis Romzek, American University

Governance, as defined by several scholars, is something larger than government (Milward & Provan, 2000, Denhardt & Denhardt, 2000). It focuses on coordination and collaboration, and is informed by the relationships underlying government: between institutions, citizens, interest groups, and private and nonprofit organizations (Klijn, 2008, Stoker, 1998). Recent trends in development and implementation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) will require a new way of thinking about governance as an overarching framework for organization (Sultana & Finger, 2012). ICTs will change the ways in which governance functions, and will offer opportunities and solutions to challenges old and new.

A new public management framework must balance the potential of emerging technologies to enhance accountability, efficiency, and/or equity of city governance with the potential risks, hidden costs, or long-term effects, particularly regarding public values and priorities. For example, recent voice-activated consumer products offer convenience, but also threaten personal privacy and data security. ICT applications must be evolutions of existing governance practices rather than add-ons, and therefore require evolution of public management theory. This paper will contribute to the literature a framework for e-governance, grounded in existing management theory and dependent on a clear and evolving conceptualization of public value, within which to consider 21st century issues and conflicts and evaluate e-governance initiatives. It will then present an analysis of two crucial components of this framework: the intellectual infrastructure upon which it depends, reflected in citizen engagement and participation in e-governance, and the physical infrastructure, in the form of broadband Internet access, through which public value is communicated.

E-governance draws upon components of traditional public administration, new public management, and public value management. It advocates a macro perspective. Rather than focusing on the process, output or outcome of government service delivery individually, e-governance considers the entire course of action, and anticipates inefficiencies or unintended consequences. E-governance views citizens as co-creators of government: it leverages citizen engagement through avenues that are both traditional (voting) and modern (digital engagement and feedback loops). To ensure its success, then, citizens must be both willing and able to participate in e-governance. This will be aided, in part, by widespread access to residential broadband Internet, supplemented by public Wi-Fi hotspots and access to city “digital inclusion sites” which feature computer labs, access to broadband Internet, and dedicated staff.

This paper will use data from the District of Columbia’s open data initiative to examine the relationship between access to broadband Internet and civic participation, in the form of voting, contributing to political campaigns, and engaging with the city via service requests or complaints, public comments, or attending local government meetings. The analysis will evaluate Internet access as a catalyst and conduit for citizen participation. It will identify areas for improvement and inform policymakers’ consideration of initiatives to increase access to the Internet, either through deployment of additional public Wi-Fi hotspots or digital inclusion sites, or subsidization of broadband Internet access to citizens.