Grand Challenges of Research on ICT-supported Governance and Policy Modelling

grand challenges of research pictureIn alignment with the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s definition[1], we understand grand challenges as „fundamental problems of science and engineering, with broad applications, whose solutions would be enabled by“ (cf. NSF) the exploitation of innovative ICT. Resolving these grand challenges needs the combined efforts of various social and technical disciplines, such as electronic government, information systems, complex systems, public administration & policy research, social simulation and computer science in order to address the research challenges on ICT-supported governance and policy modelling (see also Meyer (2003) who argues that grand challenges should “mobilise a significant part of the community, on a key unsolved issue, for a decade or so, with ambitious goals that can in principle be attained, but not without special effort, resources and dedication”[2].

The five grand challenges of research on ICT-supported public governance and policy modelling developed in eGovPoliNet are (see the links for the detailed descriptions along abstract, challenges and potential impact):

  • Grand challenge "Data and information characteristics and use". The data dimension of policy modelling reports significant challenges for data providers, analysts, and consumers. While existing and new data sources offer great opportunities to explore and understand both the context and possible effects of policy choices, many issues that have tremendous impact on the trustworthiness and reliability of policy models arise with this topic; for example, the quality of data, provenance information, or empirical validity. All these issues demand multidisciplinary research that investigates data characteristics and use in public policy modelling from different angles.
  • Grand challenge "Modelling and simulation". Using computer simulations in examining, explaining and predicting social processes and relationships as well as measuring the possible impact of policies in an innovative manner has become an important part of policy making. However, current paradigms of policy modelling using simulation models are constrained by their particular focus. Unifying different modelling theories under an umbrella of comprehensive policy modelling platforms is an urgent research need.
  • Grand challenge "Citizen and stakeholder engagement". The demand for citizen and stakeholder engagement ought to become one of the most important imperatives of the modern world. This grand challenge puts forward a number of issues and gaps in the process of citizen and stakeholder engagement, such as trust and manipulation, challenge of policy making to provide satisfactory decisions for the entire population and all social groups as well as strategies to overcome the issues.
  • Grand challenge "Government capabilities and legitimacy". This grand challenge encompasses two interrelated concerns: the legitimacy of government in the eyes of the governed and the capabilities of government to carry out actions that respond to the expectations of citizens and other stakeholders.
  • Grand challenge "Translating research results into policy actions and support". A significant gap exists between research on ICT-supported public governance and policy modelling and the practise of public policy making. A big amount of work is carried out in academia, leading to great findings. However, translating these research findings into concrete policy actions in practices is hampered by a number of barriers that lay in systemic aspects, disciplinary foci as well as motivation and benefit for engaging with “the other side”.


    [1] NSF, The NSF-ACCI Task Force on Grand challenges: Grand challenges of high-performance computing (HPC) research are "fundamental problems of science and engineering, with broad applications, whose solutions would be enabled by high-performance computing (HPC) resources …“ and which „cannot be solved by advances in HPC alone: they also require extraordinary breakthroughs in computational models, algorithms, data and visualization technologies, software and collaborative organizations uniting diverse disciplines"

    [2] Meyer, B. (2003). The Grand Challenge of Trusted Components. Proceedings of ICSE 2003, IEEE Computer Press.