Many local governments face significant hurdles

Says a new report summarized by Governing:

In a report published Monday, the National Association of Counties (NACo) analyzed economic data for counties to gauge how well they’ve recovered. The analysis considered four measures: job totals, unemployment rates, economic output (GDP) and median home prices. Overall, the findings depicted an uneven recovery.

Only 65 counties (out of more than 3,000 nationally) have seen all four economic measures fully recover from pre-recession peaks. Nearly three-quarters of counties remain below their pre-recession employment levels, while economic output hasn’t recovered in 45 percent of counties.

“Average is over”, indeed.

Are federal agencies slow adopters?

Says a new survey:

Federal managers embrace digital technology and want their agencies to invest more in it, but they’re concerned that government is too slow to adopt state-of-the art systems and is lagging behind the private sector, a survey out today shows.

The survey of senior civil servants across government by the National Academy of Public Administration and ICF International, a Virginia technology consulting firm, comes three years after several high-profile directives from the Obama administration to further federal efforts to use digital technology to serve the public. While a majority of managers said devices such as smartphones and tablets, mobile apps, online services, video-conferencing and other systems have improved their productivity and helped them serve more Americans, a slim majority said they doubt that their agency is keeping pace with the private sector.

The federal government buys a lot of IT (about $82 billion per year).

Source: Washington Post.

2014 trends in state and local finance

From Governing:

This might be as good as it gets.

Two state and local governmental organizations recently released annual reports on government financial health. They both essentially came to the same conclusion: Many governments are past the immediate pains of the recession but are now feeling the duller aches of the slow-growth economy. The National League of Cities’ City Fiscal Conditions Survey found that cities made some key gains in fiscal year 2014 although many still can’t claim a full recovery from the recession. Mainly, they have started to make up for areas where there were spending cutbacks during the downturn and they are increasing their reserve funds. And the overall positive figures are widespread — 80 percent of city finance officers reported improved fiscal conditions this year, the highest such number in the 29-year history of the survey.

The National Association of State Budget Officers also released its year-end report on the health of state finances. That analysis found state spending is increasing for the fifth straight year but growth continues to be minimal and the competition for limited dollars remains fierce. That’s because much of the projected 3.1 percent spending increase will be gobbled up by rising costs in education and Medicaid, leaving little money available for spending in other areas. Additionally, in no year since the recession has spending growth matched the nearly four-decade average of 5.5 percent. Even more alarming: This year’s total general fund spending of $748 billion is still 2 percent below the pre-recession peak, after accounting for inflation. “If we continue to see this for another two to three fiscal years,” said Scott Pattison at the report’s release, “we have to assume we are in a new economic era…this ‘new normal’ that economists talk about.”

OpenIDEO for innovation in government

Recently, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy created the Ebola Grand Challenge, an effort to expedite this process and draw out solutions from the public in a streamlined, collaborative way.

Through the online idea-sharing platform, OpenIdeo, physicists, mathematicians, inventors, doctors and everyday “Joes” submitted ideas and research to assist aid workers battling this deadly virus. Research and ideas were presented, evaluated, dissected, and often times, combined in an amazing show of collaboration.

and an example:

Companies are applying their products and ideas in a way previously not considered. Qore Performance, a Fairfax, Virginia-based company, submitted our new-to-market athletic apparel with arterial cooling pockets. Originally designed for athletes and law enforcement personnel for in-game or on-duty use, HAZMAT suit cooling and patient care was not the original design for the products, but this platform has put us on the radar for a number of government and private-sector organizations whose workers wear protective gear daily.

With no experience in providing solutions to the federal government, companies such as Qore Performance would have previously depended on third-party relationship managers to bring their products into the federal government and navigate the complexities of the General Services Administration’s schedule contracts. Most are “flying blind,” lacking the resources or connections to present their solutions in front of the proper set of eyes.

Source: Federal News Radio.

The design of interrogation by contractors

Among many controversial CIA actions described in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s new report on the post-9/11 detention and interrogation program is the award of an $81 million multi-year contract to access advice on pain infliction from two psychologists.


The contract psychologists developed theories of interrogation based on “learned helplessness” and developed the list of enhanced interrogation techniques, even conducting them personally, the intelligence committee report said.


In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program, an agreement that has cost the CIA $1 million so far, according to the Senate staff.


Fischetti noted that “black contracts” are given less oversight and may not adhere to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, which would require supporting documentation and recognized regional compensation survey data.

Source: Govexec.

CFP: AW4city Workshop

Apologies for formatting.

AW4city Workshop – Web Applications and Smart Cities: bringing together government, businesses and citizens

In conjunction with WWW’15: 24th World Wide Web International Conference
Florence, Italy, May 18th 2015

Workshop Objective
AW4city Workshop main objective is to promote Smart City research results in the context of web applications development. As part of the WWW 2015 International conference, this workshop is dedicated to open discussions about the most important issues today in terms of smart city methodologies, implementations and practices.

The aim of this workshop is to address web-based application and Apps’ design and development in the smart city and urban context, which is a rapidly emerging domain and suggests a steadily evolving dominant market. Applications of these types are crucial, and can be in the areas of economy, innovation, transparency, mobility, environment, security, health, leisure, living, people and governance while no particular standards define rules for corresponding application development yet. Theoretical concepts, empirical evidence and selected case studies from leading scholars and practitioners in the field showing the “big picture” of smart cities and urban areas will be examined in this workshop.

This workshop aims at gathering researchers from the fields of smart cities and web application development to think about the obstacles that hurdle the leveraging of understanding and capturing of smart city trends with regard web application development that interconnect citizens, businesses and government in a smart city.

We target researchers from both industry and academia to join forces in this exciting area. We intend to discuss the recent and significant developments in the general areas of smart cities and web applications and to promote cross-fertilization of techniques. In particular, we aim at identifying trends and respective applications in smart cities; the potential impact of smart city in web applications; techniques from end-to-end solutions’ or apps’ development that will enable researchers to understand the dynamic phenomena in smart cities, as well as specify important directions for the research communities. Standards for web applications’ development in smart cities is interesting for several areas such as sustainability, crisis management, marketing, security, and interoperability. To address the above mentioned aspects, we solicit the following topics (but not limited to):

• Theoretical foundations on Smart City web applications;
• Smart City sustainability and the role of web applications;
• End-to-end applications for Smart Cities;
• Smart buildings, smart energy, smart water, smart waste, smart transportation and web applications;
• Smart health, security, leisure, innovation and governance
• Creative partnerships and creative industries in Smart City: the role of the WWW and of the Internet-of-things;
• Standardizing web applications’ development in Smart Cities;
• The role of e-Government in Smart Cities (i.e., technology push);
• Web applications for smart communities;
• Smart City e-service execution with web applications;
• Ensuring resilience, security and privacy in Smart Cities: the role of web applications;
• Web Infrastructure architecture in smart cities: Datacenters, Content Delivery Networks, and Cloud Computing;
• Internet Economics in smart cities: the role of applications;
• Internet of Things Applications in Smart Cities;
• Web applications and Business: business transformation and business models;

CFA: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Public Finance

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Public Finance

Department: UCL Department of Political Science/School of Public Policy

Grade: Grade 7/8/9

Hours: Full time

Salary (inclusive of London allowance)
Salary will be on the UCL Lecturer A or B salary scale grade 7 as appropriate, (£37,152-£40,313 per annum), and grade 8, (£41,430-£48,873 per annum) or the Senior Lecturer salary scale grade 9 (£53,119 – £57,760) inclusive of London Allowance.

Duties and Responsibilities
UCL wishes to appoint a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Public Finance to contribute to research and teaching within the Department. We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in the fields of public policy and especially in public finance and budgeting.

The new Lecturer will deliver one core module on ‘Public Finance and Budgeting’ to students on the new MPA in Public Administration and Management within the Department of Political Science. In addition, they will make a contribution to existing modules and/or create and develop a new course that complements current offerings in the department. The successful candidate will be expected to undertake research of the highest international standards within his or her own specialist field, which will contribute to the research standing of the Department.

The appointment is available from 1st August 2015.

Key Requirements
Candidates must have a PhD in political science or a public policy related area, a proven track record of publications in leading journals and/or major university presses and a demonstrated ability to win grant-funding. Previous experience of teaching at undergraduate or postgraduate level and an excellent understanding of public finance is essential.

Candidates wishing to be considered for the role of Lecturer (Grade 8) or Senior Lecturer (Grade 9) would need to fulfil the additional criteria as specified in full detail within the attached Person Specification.

Further Information
A job description and person specification is attached. To apply for the vacancy please visit and search using reference 1442392.

Further information on the Department of Political Science and our teaching programmes is available on our website (

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr Marc Esteve ( If you have any queries regarding the vacancy or the application process, please contact Alex Skinner (email: telephone: +44 (0) 207 679 4944).

CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS: 5pm, 27th November 2014

It is anticipated that short listed candidates will be invited to interview in the week commencing 12th January 2014.

Alexandra Skinner
School of Public Policy
Department of Political Science
University College London
29-30 Tavistock Square
London WC1H 9QU

Tel: 020 7679 4944 (x24944)