Originally published in The Hill, Feb 07, 2021

Watching the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6th, one could be forgiven for thinking American democracy was reaching its final hours. But the tools to solve the deepest problems of our democracy are in our own hands.

The media focus on the horse race between political parties — on politics rather than governance — obscures the fact that the way to address today’s challenges is not only by changing our policies but changing how we make policy, equipping leaders with the skills to involve citizens in defining and solving contemporary problems.


BROOKLYN, New York, Tuesday, February 23, 2021 — Today, The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering released a report, “The Power of Virtual Communities,” which examines the role online groups play in creating opportunities for people to build new kinds of meaningful communities they often could not form in real space.

This research was built on interviews with 50 Facebook communities, 26 experts from academia and industry, unique access to Facebook’s underlying research and an original global survey conducted by YouGov of 15,000 people in 15 markets who are currently members of online and in-person…


Original source: Beth Simone Noveck, “Democracy suffers when government statistics fail,” Nature Vol. 586 (October 1, 2020), 27–28

The Web was invented 30 years ago, yet 2020 is the first year that the United States’ decennial census has allowed households to respond online. This shift came in the nick of time — given the need for social distancing — and has been a (qualified) success. As of September, more than 88% of housing units have been accounted for. Some 65.5% responded online, by phone or by mail, rather than in response to the conventional knock at the door. Read more in Nature here.


Published first here in The Hill, May 15, 2020

The House is set to vote on Resolution 965. Introduced by House Rules Committee Democrats, HR-965 would provide authorization for remote committee proceedings and voting by proxy — meaning that members can delegate a colleague on the floor to vote on their behalf — during the pandemic.

While an important first step in helping to resume operations, Congress needs to follow the lead of those many legislatures around the world who have changed their laws and rules and are using technology to continue to legislate, conduct oversight and even innovate.

Though…


This is an extended version of the testimony presented to members of the Association for Former Members of Congress during a virtual mock hearing held on April 16, 2020. The event was sponsored by The GovLab, Demand Progress, Beeck Center, POPVOX and Democracy Fund. For a brief introduction to continuity of legislative operations, see this video.

For more information on the subject, visit crowd.law.

Testimony of Beth Simone Noveck, Professor and Director, The Governance Lab, New York University

April 16, 2020

Introduction

Chairperson Baird, Ranking Member Inglis, thank you for the opportunity to participate in today’s hearing.

I…


The GovLab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering is pleased to announce the launch of CrowdLaw for Congress (congress.crowd.law) — a free, online course and resource kit including training videos, case studies and a “playbook” of practical strategies showcasing how and why legislatures are using technology to engage the public in lawmaking

The initiative, launched with support from the Democracy Fund, seeks to help legislatures foster an efficient two-way conversation with the public to improve the quality and legitimacy of lawmaking in the 21st century.

The CrowdLaw for Congress website features a series of five short instructional videos by…


There’s never been more hybrid learning in the public sector than today.

This article was written by Jason Williams-Bellamy and Beth Simone Noveck. This is the third article in a series (first here and second here) by The Governance Lab on training 21st century public sector leaders. This article originally appeared on Apolitical.

As we noted in the previous article in this series on skills training in the public sector, part of a good skills survey includes asking respondents how they want to learn.

In the public sector innovation skills survey we developed for the International City and County Managers…


To impeach or not to impeach a President stirs people’s passions but it is also a highly complex legal issue. What the Founding Fathers would have made of Donald Trump’s soliciting of help from a foreign government is a question challenging enough to have driven the House Judiciary Committee to seek testimony from four specialists in constitutional law last week. Very few of us have read the Constitution, let alone are able to interpret it. Sometimes, we have to hear from the experts.

Yet there are other public debates that rely less on such technical knowhow. In these arguments, many…


By Beth Simone Noveck

This article was originally published in Communications of the ACM.

Science and technology have progressed exponentially, making it possible for humans to live longer, healthier, more creative lives. The explosion of Internet and mobile phone technologies have increased trade, literacy, and mobility. At the same time, life expectancy for the poor has not increased and is declining.

As science fiction writer William Gibson famously quipped, the future is here, but unevenly distributed. With urgent problems from inequality to climate change, we must train more passionate and innovative people — what I call public entrepreneurs — to…


Beth Simone Noveck and Jason Williams-Bellamy

Opinion: A well-timed survey may be the difference between failure or success

This is the second in a series by the Governance Lab on training 21st century public sector leaders. This article was also posted on Apolitical.

Audit Scotland, which monitors government spending, recently found that the Scottish government was not delivering on its ambitious digital strategy.

The reason: a shortage of digital skills among public leaders made it difficult to measure progress and share common lessons learned.

The shortcomings of Scotland’s efforts to digitise government services might have been avoided, had they been more aware of the state of digital literacy in the country’s public…

Beth Simone Noveck

Director @TheGovLab, Prof @NYUTandon. Former @POTUS44 US Deputy CTO White House @OpenGov Initiative. Author, Smart Citizens, Smarter State (2015).

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