How Do They Know? Case Studies of Expert Knowledge Support for Elected Leaders

The United States Congress is stuck. That is not news, and although the causes are many and subtle, the purpose of this article is not to resurrect that particular debate. Instead, we focus on the absence of expertise—agenda-free facts to drive analysis and policy formulation—and creating an accessible and symmetrical knowledge environment for decision-making.

Across the globe, a profound shift is underway. Demands for self-determination are redistributing power from hierarchies to individuals and communities. Meanwhile, old institutions struggle to adapt to and often resist the modern requirements of participatory government. Transparency is increasing, data is abundant, but systems that enable public accountability lag behind. What is the role that experts can play in building the tools of modern, accountable government? How is technology leveraging participation to build this new public space? Will civic technology be able to bridge the gap between demands for inclusion and today’s mostly obsolete governing systems?

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