The Gov Lab

Beth Noveck Named as One of 100 Pioneers of New Economy

Beth Noveck Named as One of 100 Pioneers of New Economy

NYU Wagner’s Beth Noveck has been named to a just-announced national roster of  leading pioneers of the new economy.

The new “Purpose Economy 100” list identifies catalysts engaged in “shifting the economy to better serve people and the planet” with innovative models, philosophies, and inventions. It highlights those who are researching, developing, and shaping markets that foster community, personal development, and impact.

The Purpose Economy 100 cohort spans every sector of the economy, from startups, corporations, and academia, to government and nonprofits. Covering nearly 20 industries, the honorees range from people of great fame to emerging innovators. In addition to Noveck – who is Jacob K. Javits Visiting Professor and Director of GovLab at New York University, working on open and collaborative approaches to governance using the latest in digital technology —the roll highlights social entrepreneurs such as Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard, more recent market makers like the founders of Airbnb and Kickstart, grassroots community organizers such as Sara Horowitz of Freelancers Union, corporate leader Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, and academic thought leader Brené Brown of the University of Houston.

With hundreds of nominations received, the selection of the The PE 100 was based on three key factors:  

- Their scale of impact, the degree to which they engage in purposeful work on an individual, organizational or societal level

- Their fit against one of five core levers proven to drive changes in markets:  research, policy, public perception, disruptive technology, and bright spots (redesigning existing systems)

- Finally, their domain of focus and the sector where they are effecting change.

The Purpose Economy is a movement organized by Imperative, a career development platform that connects professionals to purpose in their work.  It was created in partnership with CSRwire, a digital media platform.

Foreign Policy Magazine Names Prof. Beth Noveck on Its List of "Top Global Thinkers"

Foreign Policy Magazine Names Prof. Beth Noveck on Its List of "Top Global Thinkers"

NYU Wagner Visiting Professor Beth Noveck is featured in the December issue of Foreign Policy magazine as one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers 2012,” and joins five others at New York University also recognized on the magazine's list -- including: Danah Boyd of Steinhardt, Chen Guangcheng of the School of Law, and, from Stern, Jonathan Haidt, Paul Romer, and Nouriel Roubini.

Professor Noveck’s book, Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful, has been translated into Russian, Arabic and Chinese. According to the Foreign Policy profile: “Open government isn't built in a day, or one presidential term, for that matter. But if the initiatives she [Noveck] has set in motion – from the National Archives dashboard for citizen archivists to the Department of Health and Human Services website for comparing insurance options –are any indication, Noveck has arguably done more than anyone to lay the foundations for a Washington that feels less like a cloistered village and more like an online public square.”

Professor Noveck served in the White House as the first U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer and as founder and director of the White House Open Government Initiative (2009-11). She has served as an advisor to UK Prime Minister David Cameron on how technology can better employ technology in the public sector. She also served on the 2008 Obama-Biden transition team and was a volunteer advisor to the Obama for America campaign on issues of technology, innovation, and government reform.  She focuses her scholarship, activism, and teaching on the future of democracy in the 21st century. Specifically, her work addresses how we can use technology to create more open and collaborative government. With a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, she is collaborating with colleagues to create a research network on the impact of technology on democratic institutions.

She will be a featured guest at a Foreign Policy gala on November 29 in Washington, D.C.

New From GovLab: MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance

New From GovLab: MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance

NYU Wagner’s Governance Lab (The GovLab) is forming the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance, which will seek to develop blueprints for more effective and legitimate democratic institutions to help improve people’s lives.
Convened and organized by the GovLab, the Research Network on Opening Governance is made possible by a three-year grant of $5 million from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as well as a gift from, which will allow the Network to tap the latest technological advances to further its work.
Combining empirical research with real-world experiments, the Research Network will study what happens when governments and institutions open themselves to diverse participation, pursue collaborative problem-solving, and seek input and expertise from a range of people. Network members include twelve experts (see below) in computer science, political science, policy informatics, social psychology and philosophy, law, and communications. This core group is supported by an advisory network of academics, technologists, and current and former government officials. Together, they will assess existing innovations in governing and experiment with new practices and how institutions make decisions at the local, national, and international levels.
Support for the Network from will be used to build technology platforms to solve problems more openly and to run agile, real-world, empirical experiments with institutional partners such as governments and NGOs to discover what can enhance collaboration and decision-making in the public interest. 
The Network’s research will be complemented by theoretical writing and compelling storytelling designed to articulate and demonstrate clearly and concretely how governing agencies might work better than they do today. “We want to arm policymakers and practitioners with evidence of what works and what does not,” says Professor Beth Simone Noveck, Network Chair and author of Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger and Citi More Powerful, “which is vital to drive innovation, re-establish legitimacy and more effectively target scarce resources to solve today’s problems.”
From prize-backed challenges to spur creative thinking to the use of expert networks to get the smartest people focused on a problem no matter where they work, this shift from top-down, closed, and professional government to decentralized, open, and smarter governance may be the major social innovation of the 21st century,” says Noveck. “The MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance is the ideal crucible for helping  transition from closed and centralized to open and collaborative institutions of governance in a way that is scientifically sound and yields new insights to inform future efforts, always with an eye toward real-world impacts.”
MacArthur Foundation President Robert Gallucci added, “Recognizing that we cannot solve today’s challenges with yesterday’s tools, this interdisciplinary group will bring fresh thinking to questions about how our governing institutions operate, and how they can develop better ways to help address seemingly intractable social problems for the common good.”

New Report Explores Technology and the Nonprofit Sector

New Report Explores Technology and the Nonprofit Sector

The Aspen Insitute today released a new report in Washington, D.C., by NYU Wagner Visiting Professor Beth Noveck and Daniel L. Goroff. The report, "Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data," shows how new technology designed to improve data on the nonprofit sector can prompt greater innovation and effectiveness.

Noveck is former director of the White House Open Government Initiative. Goroff, while at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, helped establish the new Interagency Task Force on Smart Disclosure. He is a program director with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


NYU Wagner Announces New Faculty Members

NYU Wagner Announces New Faculty Members

NYU Wagner is delighted to announce that our outstanding faculty will be enriched by the addition of a number of distinguished scholars with deep expertise and broad experience in critical policy areas.

The new arrivals include eleven noted researchers, practitioners, and lecturers:

Mark A.R. Kleiman, a nationally recognized expert on criminal justice and the head of the NYU Marron Institute's Crime Reduction and Justice Project, will join Wagner as Visiting Professor of Public Service.

Julia Lane, an economist who has conducted path-breaking work in collecting big data, has been named Professor of Public Service. She is NYU Provostial Fellow for Innovation Analytics, and Professor of Practice at the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).

Jacob W. Faber, an influential researcher on inequality and segregation, including the issues of race and access to credit, has been named Assistant Professor of Public Service.

Timothy Naftali, the former Director of the Nixon Library, who has written on the Cold War and US counter-terrorism, has been named Clinical Associate Professor of Public Service.  A noted presidential historian as well, he is currently the Head of the NYU Tamiment Library and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.

The list of new scholars at Wagner also includes Scott B. Taitel, former Chief Operation Officer of the Clinton Foundation's Enterprise Partnership; he has been appointed Clinical Associate Professor of Public Service.

Thomas J. Sugrue will be Affiliated Professor. He is a scholar of urban policy and civil rights, and is writing a history of the American real estate industry, with support from the Carnegie Corporation.

Adam Millard-Ball will be a Visiting Scholar at Wagner. He is an urban planner and economist from the University of California, Santa Cruz, serving as assistant professor of environmental studies.

Abu S. Shonchoy, an economist with interest in impact evaluation, and who runs an experimental laboratory in Northern Bangladesh, will be a Wagner Visiting Scholar, as well.

In addition, Bhaven N. Sampat, an economist, joins as Visiting Professor. Sampat studies the effects of pharmaceutical patent laws in developing countries, the impact of patents on follow-on innovation, and the returns to publicly funded medical research.

Aram Hur, who researches issues of national identities and civic participation, and Jesse Margolis, who studies education policy, will be teaching and researching as post-doctoral fellows at Wagner.

We bid them all welcome, and proudly so!

NYU Wagner Professors Convene at 10 Downing St. on Technology & Government

NYU Wagner Professors Convene at 10 Downing St. on Technology & Government

© The Prime Minister's Office / Flickr

NYU Wagner visiting professor Beth Noveck and clinical professor Shankar Prasad are in 10 Downing St. today, Nov. 9, for the start of a two-day conversation -- co-hosted by Wagner -- on the future of democracy and the impact of technology.

They join about 40 others at a long table in the wood-paneled State Dining Room, a mix of intersecting and influential perspectives from industry, government, development, nonprofits, and universities. The participants also include Wagner MPA students Kevin Hansen and Sean Brooks.

The London gathering represents a planning meeting for a MacArthur Foundation-supported research network that will develop collaborative new strategies for tackling the world’s hardest problems.

In the evening, the group of thought leaders will head to a dinner organized by the World Bank to continue the discussion in an informal setting. They'll resume the conference on Nov. 10.

For more information, visit or @openinggov - where Professors Noveck and Prasad will be tweeting on the discussion.

Click here to view the conversations on Storify.


NYU Wagner's Beth Noveck Aims to 'Liberate' Nonprofit Sector Data

NYU Wagner's Beth Noveck Aims to 'Liberate' Nonprofit Sector Data

In 2010, nonprofits in the U.S. numbered 1.5 million, with $1.51 trillion in revenues, and to find particulars or overall trends about this vast and growing sector of the economy, many people use the Form 990. This is the financial and organizational report that every tax-exempt organization submits annually to the Internal Revenue Service.

Yet, like many public documents, the forms are not so easy for researchers, practitioners, and others to access and analyze.

Writing in a recent paper, Beth Noveck, a visiting professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, along with co-author Daniel L. Goroff, a program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, asked whether government transparency could be enhanced with technology to better support innovation, engagement, and outcomes in the nonprofit sector.

Noveck, who formerly led President Barack Obama’s Open Government Initiative, is immersed in studying the broad, important issue of how governments can better use tech-enabled platforms to engage the citizenry. In her Aspen Institute paper with Goroff, entitled “Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data,” she finds that, like other data collected by the U.S. government, the information in the Form 990s could be far more beneficial “if it were not only ‘public’ but ‘open’ data.” That is: “Available to all, free of charge, in a standard format, published without proprietary conditions, and available online as a bulk download rather than through single-entry lookup.

“Making the 990 data truly open… would not only make it easier to use for the organizations that already process it,” the authors write, “but would also make it useful to researchers, advocates, entrepreneurs, technologists, and nonprofits that do not have the resources to use the data in its current form.”

The move would also encourage greater transparency by nonprofits, spur innovation in the sector, and “above all, help us to understand the potential value of the 990 data,” note the authors.

At present, the IRS creates Form 990 image files and sells DVD compilations to subscribers.

“Just as most people have gotten accustomed to sharing large files via a service like Dropbox, it would be simple for the IRS to publish the returns online for anyone to download in bulk for free,” Noveck wrote in a recent blog post about the paper.

But if converting the Form 990 into an open-data government document sounds straightforward, the co-authors find that it isn’t a simple delivery. Liberating government data of all kinds, they write, typically requires overcoming technological, political, and cultural barriers to change.

[Originally appeared in NYU Research Digest, Spring 2013].

NYU Wagner's Beth Noveck Honored as “Civic Innovator” of the Year

NYU Wagner's Beth Noveck Honored as “Civic Innovator” of the Year

Beth Noveck, Founder and Director of The Governance Lab at NYU Wagner, is among a group of civic innovators from around the globe who have just been honored by the nonpartisan National Democratic Institute (NDI) for their efforts to use technology to hold governments accountable, give citizens a voice and improve democratic governance in our digital age.

The awards were presented at NDI’s 2013 Democracy dinner held December 10 in Washington, D.C.

Noveck, who is the Jacob K. Javits Visiting Professor at Wagner, was recognized for her work with The GovLab, which is helping to improve people’s lives by seeking new ways to solve public problems using advances in technology and science. She joined government officials, elected politicians, entrepreneurs, and civic activists in receiving the year's NDI honors for using technology to crowdsource legislation, increase government transparency, connect citizens, support freedom of information online, and more. The group of 18 innovators were chosen for their contributions to making democracy deliver on its promise around the world.

The other honorees for this year include:

  • María Baron, Chair, Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency and Executive Director, Fundación Directorio Legislativo (Latin America)
  • Jared Cohen, Director, Google Ideas and Ginny Hunt, Strategy Principal, Google’s Civics Team (United States)
  • Vukosava Crnjanski Sabovic, Founder and Director, Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (Serbia)
  • Gregor Hackmack, Co-Founder, Parliament Watch (Germany)
  • Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Lead Government Chair, and Rakesh Rajani, Lead Civil Society Chair, Open Government Partnership (Global)
  • Ellen Miller, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Sunlight Foundation (United States)
  • Rufus Pollock, Founder and CEO, Open Knowledge Foundation (Global)
  • Tom Steinberg, Founder and Director, mySociety (United Kingdom)
  • The Amnesic Incognito Live System (TAILS) (Global)
  • Oras Tynkkynen, Vice Chair of the Committee for the Future, Parliament of Finland (Finland).


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