Bridging the Tech/Policy Divide

Preparing for the future of technology and public policy

As digital technologies transform nearly every aspect of our daily lives, there are countless opportunities for transformative technologies to impact how we live, work, and play. At New America we have been especially excited about and interested about the future of technology in one field in particular: public policy. Specifically, what role can and will technology play in solving 21st-century public policy and governance problems? How can we create an effective pipeline for public sector tech talent? And how can we train a future generation of leaders for a networked society?


Driven by these questions we recently launched Bridging the Tech/Policy Divide, a resource-based toolkit to study the current field and prepare for the future of of technology policy education and work. Our goal is to build out the toolkit so that it can be federated across public policy schools in universities in order to strengthen the public sector tech professional pipeline. Future leaders need training along all these dimensions to fully understand technology’s societal impact. The use of digital tools in public organizations has outstripped the capacity of people in those organizations to design, manage, and operate that technology much less to fully exploit its potential. Currently, there is a failure to develop these skills, and Bridging the Tech/Policy Divide aims to understand and begin to fix that gap.


Our toolkit consists of several resources:


  • Riding the Wave: A case study about how Congressman Seth Moulton’s 2014 campaign leveraged digital and social media is the first of a new curriculum focused on the intersection of information technology and public policy that can be federated at schools across the country.

  • What the Office of Personnel Management Got Right: A brief blog post/case study that explores the question of when and how the United States should respond to the massive OPM cybersecurity breach overlooks a deeper issue, one that stands at the intersection of technology and policy: Why was the Office of Personnel Management running their own servers in the first place?

  • Course Database: An open-source database of university courses at the intersection of technology and policy offered by the nation’s 20 leading academic institutions. (The database is available at the bottom of the linked page).


As technology transforms and becomes a critical component of life in the 21st-century, the need to connect the technology and policy sectors is more clear than ever. We are excited to launch Bridging the Tech/Policy Divide and help prepare for the future of technology and public policy.


Author:

Liz Woolery is a senior policy analyst in New America's Open Technology Institute. Her work focuses on the intersection of digital free expression, privacy, and transparency.