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Governance Infrastructures in 2020


Erik Johnston is an assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University and codirector of the Center for Policy Informatics. His current research focuses on how advances in computation, information, and communication technologies enable new approaches to governance and policy analysis.


A governance infrastructure is the collection of technologies and systems, people, policies, practices, and relationships that interact to support governing activities. Information technology, especially communication and computational technologies, continues to augment society’s ability to organize, interact, and govern. As we think about the future of governance, this article challenges us to move beyond questions of how to best manage government institutions to how to design smart governance systems with the appropriate incentives and rules to harness and coordinate the enthusiasm and capabilities of those governed. This article anticipates how the interaction of technology and society can be leveraged to mindfully design an interaction-defined, participation-based governance infrastructure to return power to the people while increasing accountability. Supporting examples of such governance approaches already exist and are regularly emerging in distributed organizations, online communities, nonprofits, and governments.