Despite the billions of dollars spent annually by governments on IT, and the critical role technology and data play in public-sector operations and programs, there’s relatively little research devoted to the subject. One of the few institutions that does this kind of work, and perhaps the most elite, is the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University at Albany. For the past five years, Theresa Pardo has been leading the center at what it does so well: fostering public-sector innovation though applied research, knowledge sharing and collaborative problem-solving.
Pardo and her team work with all levels of government, not just in the U.S., but also around the globe. Take, for example, a project called the “open government portfolio public value assessment tool,” which was funded by the National Science Foundation to support the CTG’s work with the U.S. federal government to measure the public value of open government projects.
Through a partnership with the World Bank and several private-sector firms, the center brought the tool to Nigeria where it was used to guide the country’s national open government plan development. Since then, the tool has been downloaded more than 600 times and is being used in many governments.
“One thing CTG is really great at is helping governments unpack the complexity of information- and technology-related problems and create solutions and strategies that maximize public value,” said Pardo.
The CTG has undertaken many research projects under Pardo’s leadership, but a couple stand out. One involves research on information sharing, one of the center’s strongest areas of study. “It’s extremely challenging to do well,” she said. But the center has transferred that expertise to a variety of contexts, including Kenya, where the implementation of the nation’s new constitution relies heavily on the sharing of information.
The center also has worked extensively with New York state and its local governments to help build data resources in a number of key policy areas. “We help people understand what it takes to create a robust and relevant data infrastructure and analytics program, and then help them design and build it within different policy domains and organizational contexts,” Pardo explained.
In working with her team, a wide network of collaborators, visiting scholars and students, Pardo says it’s her job to find out what inspires and interests them. Her leadership philosophy dovetails into what the center strives to do: bring the best minds together to help organizations create sustainable and valuable change.