POLS 395-2


Spring 2010



Yu-Che Chen, Ph.D.



Division of Public Administration, Second floor of the IABSO building, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115



Class Location:

DuSable 252


Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:30 – 1:45 p.m.

Blackboard Site:

Office Hours:

Thursday 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. or by appointment


Course Description

            The use of information and communication technology in public affairs is increasingly a fact of life. Electronic filing of income taxes, the use of social media (such as YouTube and blogs) for political campaigning, and electronic surveillance for homeland security are just a few examples. The high penetration rate of broadband connections and a new generation of mobile devices (i.e., I-phone; Blackberry) and their applications provide an ever-increasing array of possibilities for integrating information technology into public affairs.

However, the advancement of information technology also creates new challenges and possibilities that require more informative and deliberate approaches to its utilization. For example, what happens to citizens who do not have fast and reliable internet access when more and more government services are moving online? One needs to understand the extent and nature of the digital divide to address it properly. Other issues include digital privacy and security, accessibility, and the development and implementation of electronic governance initiatives.

            This course provides the knowledge to better meet the challenges and realize the full potential of information technology in public affairs. It covers the vision, politics and policies, and the management and implementation of e-governance. With an explicit emphasis on management and implementation, the course will foster knowledge and appreciation for how to translate e-government ideas into reality.

            This course will engage students in both understanding and applying knowledge related to electronic governance. Assignments are applied and practical in nature. The goal of these assignments is to introduce real-world problems while encouraging students to connect ideas to their implementation. 


Course Objectives

The primary objective of this course is to provide an in-depth understanding of the concepts and issues related to electronic governance. Upon completing this course, students should have a good understanding of concepts and tools in the following areas:

        E-government and e-governance

        Policies and politics of e-governance

        Management and implementation of electronic governance


Course Learning Resources

Required Textbook:

Garson, G. David. (2006). Public Information Technology and E-Governance: Managing the Virtual State. (paperback). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. (ISBN: 0-7637-3468-3).


Other Required Readings:

Other required readings and additional resources will be posted in the Blackboard course environment.


Assignments, Due Dates, and Grading


Table 1. Summary Table for Assignments, Due Dates, and Grade Points


Due Date


Grade Points


Active Participation


Jan. 28 (Thur.)

E-Government Web Site Evaluation


Feb. 11 (Thur.)

First Midterm Exam


Mar. 2 (Tue.)

Online Forum Assignment


April 6 (Tue.)

Second Midterm Exam


May 6 (Thur.)

Knowledge Portfolio



Exams and Assignments

Course assignments aim to help develop the student’s problem-solving capabilities in the area of electronic government. They are all due at the beginning of class. Below is a brief description of each assignment. More details will be forthcoming in the Blackboard course environment.


E-Gov’t Web Site Evaluation

            Web Site assessment provides the opportunity to evaluate the primary electronic interface between government and citizens.  This assignment will introduce usability, accessibility, transparencies, and other issues and principles that are relevant to e-governance. 


Midterm Exams

            There will be two mid-term exams. The exams will have a variety of written identification and short answer questions. Prior to each exam, a study guide and specific exam format information will be made available.


Online Forum Assignment

            This assignment will give students the opportunity to evaluate and participate in an online forum. Students will learn the issues related to online forums. Moreover, students will simulate the process in one of the forums in blackboard. More detailed instructions will be distributed in the classroom and forthcoming in the course’s Blackboard environment.


Knowledge Portfolio

The knowledge portfolio is a collection and analysis of issues and information about a topic area of your interest. This portfolio will build on the concepts and information presented in this course and will help you to engage in-depth research and analysis of a topic. Detailed instructions will be posted on the course web site.



The instructions for each assignment will feature a section on grading criteria. Active participation has two components: (a) in-class and (b) online. Students are expected to finish the required readings PRIOR to class. The goal is to have a productive and engaging in-class session to maximize learning outcomes. Students also need to actively participate in classroom discussions and online forums. Attendance is required. For participation, the standards are: A = regular and thoughtful participation; B = occasional and thoughtful participation; C = regular attendance, but little or no participation; D = less than regular attendance; and F = little or no attendance.


Your final grade is based on your performance in various activities.


            Active Participation                                                       100 pts

            E-Gov’t Web Site Evaluation                                          150 pts

Two midterm exams (200 each)                                     400 pts 

Web 2.0 Forum on E-Governance Issues                                    150 pts

            Knowledge Portfolio                                                      200 pts

            Total                                                                            1000 pts


Course Policies and General Resources


Communication Requirements

Students are required to check their NIU e-mails and course Blackboard site for announcements, readings, and resources. Blackboard is the primary vehicle for course announcements and schedules, distribution of readings, submission of assignments, and online discussions and postings. 


Active Participation

Active participation is critical for your learning success. Active participation includes active involvement in classroom discussions and activities, online postings, and information exchange. You are responsible for finishing ALL the required readings before coming to class. You are encouraged to share your experience and perspective.


Academic Dishonesty

Students are expected to understand and adhere to rules and regulations on plagiarism published by the Northern Illinois University. The NIU Undergraduate Catalog states: "students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging them. Students guilty of or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university." Examples of violations include using ideas without giving proper credit; paragraphs copied from one or more sources; and a paper that quotes, summarizes or paraphrases, or cuts and pastes words, phrases, or images from an Internet source without identification and the address of the web site. Violations will result in penalty a grade of F for that specific assignment or exam. Students are advised to learn and follow the rules for proper quoting, paraphrasing, and footnoting.


Makeup Exams

Makeup examination will only be given under extraordinary circumstances. Students need to contact the instructor before the scheduled exam. Failure to do so will result in a zero for the exam. To ensure the fairness of the process, students will be asked to provide documentation for the request for makeup exams.


Late Assignments

            Late assignments will ONLY be accepted within 24 hrs of the specified due date and time, with a 10 percent grade deduction. Exceptions are only made for those who have a DOCUMENTED and EXTRAORDINARY EMERGENCY.



             This course does not give incomplete except for extraordinary circumstances. The student needs to provide proper documentation from an official source for an incomplete petition.


Classroom Etiquette

Proper etiquette ensures a positive and conducive learning environment by minimizing interruptions and distracting activities. Students are to arrive to class on time. Students are to remain for the entire session unless excused by the professor beforehand or confronted with a serious personal emergency. All electronic devices such as I-Pod, blackberry, cellular phones must be turned off during class. With prior notification to the instructor, exceptions will be given to the student who needs to attend to a sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, and so forth. Discussions in class should be courteous and respectful of others.


Students with Disabilities

            Students with disabilities that may have an impact on their coursework must register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR). It is located on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building (753-1303). CAAR will assist students in making appropriate instructional and/or examination accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Political Science Department Web Site

            The Department of Political Science web site is a wonderful resource for undergraduate students. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. There are also scholarships available.


Course Schedule and Required Readings





PART I: E-Governance and Public Information Technology


Week 1

January 12: Course Overview & Introduction

·         Readings: Syllabus & Course Web site


January 14: The Vision of E-Governance in the United States

·         Readings: Garson, Ch. 1


Week 2

January 19: Development and Ranking of E-Governance in the United States

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 2; Digital Government Web sites; Pew Internet and American Life Web site


January 21: E-Governance around the World

  • Readings: United Nations’ 2008 E-Government Survey; E-Governance Institute at Rutgers University Web Site; Internet World Statistics


PART II:  Politics and Policies for E-Governance


Week 3

January 26: E-Democracy and its layers

  • Reading: Garson, Ch. 3


January 28: Practice and Issues of E-Democracy

  • Chadwick, (2003), “Bringing E-Democracy Back In”, Social Science Computer Review
  • web site (

<<eGov’t web site evaluation assignment due by the end of January 28>>


Week 4

February 2: Digital Divide

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 4; Pew Internet and American Life Project, (2009), Home Broadband Adoption, 2009 Report.  

February 4: Information Access and Transparency

  • Garson, Ch. 5


Week 5

February 9: Transparency: U.S.

February 11: First mid-term exam

<<First mid-term exam>>


Week 6

February 16: Privacy

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 6; EPIC Web site

February 18: Security

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 7;  Collins, Hilton, (June 2009), The Weakest Link, Government Technology, 22(6), pp. 20-28


PART III: Management and Implementation


Week 7

February 23: E-Government Business Model

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 9; Chen and Thurmaier, 2008

February 25: Partnering, Outsourcing, Contracting, and Procurement

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 10; Crowdsourcing,


Week 8

March 2: E-Government Planning

  • Readings: Garson, Ch.11;

<<Web 2.0 Forum on E-Governance Issues>>

March 4: Needs Assessment and Project Management

  • Garson, Ch. 11; Miller, (June/July 2006), “Limp Kites and Unfulfilled Projects”, Public CIO, Vol. 4, Issue 3, pp. 32-37.


Week 9

Spring break


Week 10

March 16: Information Resource Management

  • Readings: DOD case (IBM Center for the Business of Government)

March 18: Knowledge Management

  • Wagner, (2003), “Knowledge Management in E-Government,” in the Proceedings of the Ninth Americas Conference on Information Systems.


Week 11

March 23: Web 2.0

March 25: Issues with Social Media

  • Readings: TBA in Blackboard


Week 12

March 30: Implementation Success

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 13

April 1: Evaluation

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 14; E-governance evaluation


Week 13

April 6: Second Midterm Exam

<<Second midterm exam>>

April 8: Information Technology and Organizational Behavior

  • Readings: Garson, Ch. 15; Moulder, Evelina, (May 2008), The 311 Report, Government Technology, 21(5), pp. 42-44.


Part IV: Emerging Phenomena and Concluding Remarks


Week 14

April 13: Conducting research for Knowledge Portfolio

<<Class does not meet>>

April 15: 3D Virtual Environment

  • Second Life: An Introduction


Week 15

April 20: Semantic Web & XBRL

  • Readings: Semantic Web: An Introduction; XBRL (

April 22: Virtual Accountability

  • Readings: TBA in Blackboard


Week 16

April 27: Transformational Power of E-Government and E-Governance

  • NIC, The Paradigm Shift: In the Information Age, eGovernment is helping the Public Sector Redefine Itself

April 29: Concluding remarks and knowledge portfolio clinics


Week 17

May 6 (Thursday): Knowledge Portfolio Due

  • Knowledge portfolio due by 2:00 p.m. online in Blackboard