Digital Government: Technology, Policy & Public Service Innovation

There is currently a waitlist for this program. Seats may become available in the coming weeks. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please fill out the form using the link below. We will contact you quickly if a seat opens.

Program Session: May 19, 2017

Registration Deadline: April 19, 2017


Program Fee: $500 *
* Special price for this one-day program; 30% HKS alumni discount for Executive Education programs cannot be applied

Like corporations, nonprofits, and average citizens, government agencies rely heavily on technology to perform the essential duties of their jobs. Everything they do—from policy work, to regulation, to service delivery—uses a form of technology. Yet many of the frameworks, infrastructure and programs currently used by these agencies were built decades ago, predating the digital technology we are highly dependent on today.

Today’s executives need a deep understanding of the benefits and limitations of technology. This doesn’t mean they need to be experts. In fact, most executives are not lawyers, but they insist on understanding the legislation that impacts their work; most executives are not economists or accountants, but they can benefit from a basic understanding of their budget; and most executives are not software engineers or data scientists, but they need a basic grasp of technology to have the judgement to assess good or bad advice.

To address this critical and timely topic of technology in government, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) is launching a new, one-day executive program entitled Digital Government: Technology, Policy & Public Service Innovation.

The Best Leaders Never Stop Learning. Return to Harvard Kennedy School

As part of HKS’s commitment to lifelong learning, we are offering this one-day intensive pilot program specifically for alumni. The program, to run in May 2017 [abutting Alumni Reunion Weekend], will be led by Professor David Eaves, Lecturer in Public Policy and Research Fellow in the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf will also join Professor Eaves for a session of the program.

An exciting new pilot program focusing on digital government

Digital Government: Technology, Policy & Public Service Innovation will address two key themes:

1. The state of play in government service provision.
2. How to improve your digital environment, whether dealing with legacy systems or building infrastructure from the ground-up.

The program will be particularly focused on how information technology increases the feedback loop—and thus the speed—at which bureaucracies can learn and adapt. At the conclusion of the day, you will emerge with an increased knowledge of digital government and digital in government, as well as a framework you can immediately implement at your organization. This is an ideal opportunity for alumni to reconnect, meet new colleagues, and re-engage with the School.


Why attend the Digital Government program? Consider the following examples:

• In the United States, the successful launch (and branding) of the Affordable Care Act was inextricably tied to the success or failure of its website.

• In Canada, hundreds of millions in direct and indirect costs have arisen from the most boring of digital failures, including the phoenix payment system which left some government employees unpaid for months or longer, while others received too many funds.

• In New York, first responders’ lives were saved by leveraging data previously collected by the city, but never reviewed. Once the data was analyzed, fire inspectors were redeployed to inspect buildings where firefighters were most likely to perish.

• In California a $300M RFP for a large IT implementation with a high risk of failure was stopped and replaced with a new approach that saw a 20-fold increase in the number of responders at 15% of the cost.

Certificate of Completion

All participants of the program will receive a certificate of completion signed by the Faculty.


The fee for the day is $500. This includes tuition and meals. Housing is not provided. The 30% HKS alumni discount cannot be applied. You will receive an invoice within 24-48 hours of registering and can pay by check or credit card.

Please note, many employers have funds available for this type of training. Check with your employer to determine eligibility.

Cancellation/ Withdrawal Policy

If you register and can no longer attend the program, you must notify us in writing by April 19. A refund will be issued. After April 19, no refunds will be allowed.