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Digital Transformation: Wiring the Responsive City

Wednesday July 2014


Stephen Goldsmith Professor of Government, Director, Innovations in Government; Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School

Introduction: Michael Allegretti, Vice President of Programs, Manhattan Institute

Increasingly, local governments face more challenges than they are prepared to handle, and as a result, are failing to deliver high quality services in an efficient and effective manner that citizens deserve. Citizens are growing increasingly frustrated by unresponsive government and reform is clearly needed. In his most recent paper for the Manhattan Institute, “Digital Transformation: Wiring the Responsive City,” Steve Goldsmith offers a path forward for city governments, providing practical answers to how they can positively redefine their relationship with citizens by leveraging the latest technologies and data analytics. Goldsmith’s report finds a number of technological innovations that should be a part of a robust local government reform movement, citing instances in which even marginal improvements can enhance bureaucratic functions: making services faster, allowing for more transparency, improving the performance of government employees, and ultimately better serving citizens. As the former Mayor of the City of Indianapolis and former Deputy Mayor for Operations of the City of New York, Goldsmith’s findings are based on a combination of research, case studies and his own experiences across the country. Mindful of technology’s limitations, however, Goldsmith warns that data alone cannot save local government. Instead, he describes how public officials must combine changes in the structures of government with the new tools of the digital revolution in order to deliver effective reform.