National Study on Technology and Civic Engagement in Local Governments

Focus area(s)

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This research aims to develop and administer a national survey of state and local government agencies to examine the extent to which different agencies utilize technology (Internet and non-Internet based) to seek input from citizens and other stakeholders. This project is designed to provide several levels of information and knowledge about civic engagement and technology-facilitated civic engagement in government agencies in the US. The first level of information will be a baseline descriptive understanding of the status of technology for civic engagement in government agencies. At a second level, the project will provide an understanding of why civic engagement may be more prevalent in one government than in another. Finally, the project will provide a navigable dataset that will include survey data, website data, and other institutional data (e.g. census data) that can be made available to partners or other groups for further analysis. The combination of baseline information, explanatory information, and data enables a national discussion on technology and civic engagement, and serves as a valuable resource for agencies, citizens and other stakeholders across the US. 

Project reports:

PDF icon Open Data, Participation, and Technology Use in Local Government Agencies: Findings from a National Survey (2018)

Data Sharing, Civic Engagement and Technology Use in Local Government Agencies: Findings from a National Survey (2016) 

Social Media, Civic Engagement, and Technology Use in Local Government Agencies: Findings from a National Survey (2012) 

Transparency, Civic Engagement, and Technology Use in Local Government Agencies: Findings from a National Survey (2010) 

Memos (2016) 


Citizen participation in U.S. local governments
Local governments are answering the call for more open, accountable, and transparent decision making that includes citizen participation. Citizen participation in local governments is credited for informing government decision making, facilitating decision implementation, increasing public trust and fostering citizenship values.

Promoting data sharing in U.S. local governments
Politicians, policy makers, and citizens are increasingly paying attention to public organizations sharing data with stakeholders, including other departments in the city, governmental organizations outside the city, and private for profit and nonprofit organizations. Data sharing between governments and stakeholders is expected to promote innovation, improve service provision, increase government accountability, and create more opportunities for public participation in the policy-making process.

Hiring women in U.S. local governments
The International City/County Management Association reports that 30% of local government department leaders are women and a mere 13% are Chief Administrative Officers (2015). The underrepresentation of women in government has led to initiatives to reduce barriers and increase the representation of women in government.

Is There a Generational Gap in Technology Use in Government?
Local governments are working to utilize diverse technologies to serve citizens. Among all types of technologies, those aimed at facilitating communication are increasingly attractive to local governments. In the general public, we see that generational differences shape technology use. For example, only 58% of the Silent generation utilizes Internet, whereas 95% of the Millennials went online in 2010. (Pew Research Center, 2010). We thus ask: is there a generational gap in technology use among government managers?

Memos (2012) 


Peer-reviewed publications: