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Research center and think tank at Harvard Kennedy School. Here to talk about democracy, government innovation, and Asia public policy.
HKS MPA 2023 Janice Lintz argues that cities must incorporate hearing access into plans for infrastructure upgrades (Pictured: Austin, Texas)

by Janice Lintz

We need to ensure that cities upgrade hearing access as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Act, which was approved by the Senate, will provide American cities with $1 trillion to rebuild airports, ferries, terminals, public transit, and rail, to name a few of the categories under President Biden’s “Build Back Better” program. Upgrading hearing access needs to be part of upgrading America. Therefore, we need to mandate that cities incorporate hearing access into their plans.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “One in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) aged…


By Ping Wang

This article is based on a Harvard Kennedy School event with Lawrence H. Summers (Secretary of the US Treasury for President Clinton; the Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard), Kevin Rudd (26th Prime Minister of Australia; President and CEO of Asia Society) and Jin Liqun (President and Chair of the Board of Directors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), moderated by Ping Wang (MPA 2021, Harvard Kennedy School) on April 22, 2021.

The liberal international economic order was established by the United States and…


Digital cannot be a capability tucked away at arm’s length

by Sechi Kailasa

Three weeks ago we co-hosted the 4th Digital Services Convening with the Harvard Kennedy School. This year we had over 100 participants from around 47 digital service groups around the world. These teams have achieved a considerable amount: we published a blog post about their successes. In this post, we want to share a few themes that were discussed at this year’s Convening.

The pandemic has shown that digital can’t be sidelined. But can teams retain the gains made during the pandemic?

Many teams have been given more authority due to the pandemic through the expansion of their scope, ability to change traditional ways of working and increased funding. Governments have found that digital cannot be…


HKS shield in Collins Rotunda floor, Taubman Building. Photo credit: Kent Dayton

Written by Mike Bracken and David Eaves

The Digital Services Convening is an annual event hosted by the The Ash Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Public Digital. This year — our fourth — brought together over 100 digital government practitioners from over 47 countries to meet, learn and share successes. It’s not just about talk. It is where participants Show The Thing. And while celebrating successes are important, the conference’s real secret has been to create a space where leaders and practitioners can be candid, sharing hard lessons and failures.

Last year, a Cambridge University study


Ash Center Director for Equity and Inclusion LaChaun Banks on the intersection of civic policy, research, and the Center’s own approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Written by LaChaun Banks, Ash Center Director for Equity and Inclusion
Chair, Ash Center Steering Committee on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to work in some of the most rural and even depressed areas of the country. Working in economic development and helping to create “good” jobs for people in struggling communities and circumstances, I have seen firsthand how certain public policies can hurt an area more than help it, even with the best intentions. …


The Reinvestment Fund and The Food Trust together tackle local food deserts in Pennsylvania-low-income neighborhoods with severely limited access to fresh produce locally. With an understanding that low-income communities have more buying power than most retailers think, they appealed to elected officials, making the case for joining together to address the grocery gap.

The partnership, which includes the Urban Affairs Coalition, secured $30 million from the state for what they called the Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI). These funds were matched with $145 million in other private and public capital to provide loans and grants for predevelopment, acquisition, equipment and…


Understanding the Case of Indonesia

Written by Marina Kusumawardhani

Postal voting package sent to an Indonesian voter in the United Kingdom for the 2019 general election. The grey-marked ballot is for the presidential election, while the yellow-marked ballot is for the legislative election for the Jakarta 2nd constituency (Central Jakarta, South Jakarta and abroad voters).
Postal voting package sent to an Indonesian voter for the 2019 general election. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The 2019 Indonesian election delegitimization attempt and the May 2019 riots around the house of the election-monitoring body in Jakarta proved just how powerful politicians’ incitement of violence could be. But months before that, it was the divided narrative of the media that created deep polarization in the country. Sources that supported the opposition produced anything from hyperpartisan news to hate speech to downright conspiracy theories. Such alternative sources went largely unchecked before and after the riots. According to my research at MIT Media Lab, there were more than 60 alternative media sources (a number that’s…


How this shift in thinking can revolutionize digital government.

Written by Naeha Rashid

Over the past decade — and further accelerated by the pandemic — a consensus has started to emerge around both the need for and the basic elements of a digital era government. The need is straight forward, citizens increasingly experience seamless, fast and omnipresent service from the private sector, resetting their expectations of how public goods should be delivered. Governments increasingly recognize that delivering on this expectation — creating a digital era government — requires some core digital infrastructure.

“Deploying the Once-Only Policy: A Privacy-Enhancing Guide for Policymakers and Civil Society Actors” was published by the Ash Center to discuss approaches as well as pitfalls when it comes to implementing the Once-Only Policy.

The cornerstone of this infrastructure is the ability of governments to collect, associate, store, and share information…


Digital government leaders on the need to rethink funding models for long-term impact

The U.S. Capitol surrounded by binary code. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Written by David Eaves, Emily Middleton, Claire Bedoui, Rohan Sandhu

Each year, David Eaves of the Harvard Kennedy School and Public Digital convene digital service groups from over 30 governments around the world. Last June, digital government leaders stressed the need to rethink funding models for long-term impact. In recent months, donors have made new commitments to support global digital public goods. …


Written by Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government

Stop the Steal rioters who broke into the Capitol on Wednesday shocked the nation by desecrating one of American democracy’s hallowed spaces. The rioters assaulted our democracy even as many of them believed they were defending it.

But the deeper ugly truth is that American democracy has few friends these days. Many — and not just on the left — correctly criticize that Americans vote at very low rates compared to most democracies, Gerrymandering distorts representation in many states, and that the six senators from California, Texas, and…

Harvard Ash Center

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