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Focus on Government Performance

Innovative research from Public Policy faculty Donald F. Norris and Lauren Hamilton Edwards identifies how local governments are addressing today’s challenges.

Photo by Mark L. Dennis

Photo by Mark L. Dennis

Both professors teach in the Public Management track.

The use of e-government, particularly social media, has expanded significantly in the United States, according to research by Dr. Norris. He surveyed local government information technology and chief information officers and found that the percentage of local governments offering information and communication applications on their Web sites has grown, in many cases considerably, since 2004. However, in contrast to earlier predictions, e-government has not yet evolved into electronic democracy with full online citizen participation. He found that the top barriers to moving to electronic democracy include lack of funding, lack of expertise, and issues surrounding cybersecurity. His new book, Metropolitan Governance in America, investigates cooperation among local governments to address metropolitan-wide problems.

Dr. Edwards studies strategic management and performance in government organizations. Her recent research focuses on local transit agencies because they operate in a competitive environment with more operational independence than most programs delivered by local governments. Through her research, she identifies aspects of organizational strategy, such as strategic planning and performance monitoring, that can lead to improved agency performance. She is currently analyzing strategic plans and diversity plans in local governments and police departments to determine how these organizations approach a diverse citizenry.

The public management track introduces students to a toolbox of management skills drawn from professionals in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. Students take courses in public management as well as budgeting, organizations and leadership, and program evaluation. Dr. Edwards is the track advisor.