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An ever-growing interest in technology in the public sector – and also in Information Polity!

There is a growing interest in issues associated with digital technology in the public sector, especially within the academic community of public administration scholars. Until recently, many colleagues in this community showed little interest in the topic area, perceiving e-Government and associated issues like data protection, to be essentially technical and procedural – and quite frankly rather dull. New emergent topics and technologies relating to algorithms, artificial intelligence and surveillance have now become ‘sexy’ and are attracting the attention of a large number of researchers, from a range of academic disciplines. Consequently, there is a burgeoning interest in how new digital technologies interact with and shape public policy, management and services – we hate to say it, but we told you so!

The growing interest in the topics and technologies that we have been studying for years can be attributed to the wide diffusion of new digital technologies across society. When we started analyzing technologies in the public sector in the 1990s, these technologies were still largely out of view. They were discreet information systems in the back offices of government and public service organizations that were largely invisible to outsiders. Today, everybody uses apps and platforms, and a range of other digital devices, and digital interactions are ubiquitous.

The growing interest in our research field is reflected in the manuscripts that we receive at Information Polity. In short, the journal is increasingly being seen a key publication outlet for research about governance, democracy, public policy and service delivery in the information age. This is reflected in the increasing popularity of the journal, both in terms of the number of manuscripts submitted and a growing readership. Since we have taken on the role of Editors-in-Chief, two years ago, the number of manuscripts submitted to the journal has increased by over 100% and the number of manuscripts published per issue has risen significantly. Alongside this increase has been a notable increase, also of over 100%, in the number of submissions desk rejected and those rejected following peer review. This may be rather disappointing for the authors concerned, but it ensures the protection of academic standards relating to relevance and quality of those manuscripts published. In summary, this data points to the journal being in rude health!

This issue contains a set of very interesting papers on ‘newer topics’ like ICT-enabled coproduction, open government data and social media in politics, but also more ‘traditional topics’ like e-government benchmarking and use of technology for decision-making. These papers highlight how the use of technology touches upon core issues in public administration. The papers also highlight the strength of the field of e-Government studies, in that they build on and extend the existing body of scholarly work and in doing so offer new theoretical and empirical insights.

Information Polity will continue to present state-of-the-art studies of technology in the public sector. We encourage you to share with your colleagues – those who have developed a more recent interest in new sexy technological applications – details about Information Polity. In doing so, we hope to solicit further papers about contemporary developments in our field and to continue to make sure that the journal remains vibrant and relevant. Our field is on an upwards trajectory and scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines, including broader public administration, are taking note of the insights and ideas emerging from our research and published in Information Polity.

Albert Meijer

William Webster

Editors-in-Chief Information Polity

January 2020