Track 1: Budgeting, Financial Management and Procurement

Sample Topical Areas:
  • Fiscal stress and resource deficiencies
  • Effects of public finance strategies from practice-based research
  • Fiscal accountability and creative budgeting
  • Public debt and budget deficits issues
  • Acquisition, contracts, procurement and grants management
  • Privatization and partnerships in the public sector
  • Creating synergies between economic development and sustainability
  • Performance-informed budgeting and reporting
  • Changing the rules for budget decision-making to reduce gridlock
  • Financial transparency and public financial reporting
  • Public retirement systems in state and local government
How do we budget for the unexpected? How do we finance economic development to remain competitive? How do we utilize the budget process to fulfill program level performance expectations? How is performance information utilized in budget decisions? Budget and finance practice has become increasingly sophisticated, utilizing a cadre of tools to minimize risk—from interest rate swaps to indexing tax rates to economic and revenue forecasting. Performance-informed budgeting has become commonplace. But budgets must also recognize the reality of complex intergovernmental and intersectoral collaboration, networks and partnerships. They must confront new and expanding problems that are beyond the reach of individual agencies, programs or line items. Public-private partnerships offer a mechanism for sharing and allocating risk for long-term projects. Fiscal stress has characterized budget decisionmaking in recent years, forcing unique cutback management approaches to maintain services under fiscal constraint. The new models of budgeting and finance capture this complexity and continue to break new ground in search of the proper allocation of resources. 


Track 2: Comparative Public Administration

Sample Topical Areas:
  • Trends and developments in global public administration
  • Collaboration across public administration professional organizations (exchanges, collaborations, internships, study abroad and other initiatives)
  • Sharing best practices and new ideas—how we can learn from each other?
  • Strategic approaches to intergovernmental or inter-organizational networking
  • Sustainable governance in nations around the world
  • Emerging models of collaborative governance
  • Democracy and social justice across national boundaries
  • Current issues in international and comparative public administration
Public administration in a global context offers rich comparative examination. Multiple principals, goal multiplicity and multiple dimensions of accountability characterize the current reality for many public and nonprofit managers around the world. Horizontal relationships, such as partnership, collaboration, networking and cooperation are commonplace to achieve economy of scale, address problems that supersede jurisdictional boundaries and stretch resources. Contractual arrangements and grants characterize intergovernmental and intersectoral practice in the hollow state, where multiple levels of government, nonprofit organizations and private enterprise share responsibility for programs and services. Organizations face new challenges and bold leadership requires new skills to function effectively within the current global context. As challenges grow in scope, organizing solutions will continue to evolve, both strengthened through comparative understanding and analysis.

Track 3: Environmental Sustainability, Climate Change and Technology

Sample Topical Areas:

  • Natural resource management
  • Implementing green policies and communities
  • Environmental policy and the role of the public sector
  • Social media—trends, patterns and emerging issues
  • What does Government 3.0 look like?
  • Technology tools and emerging trends for the effective administrator
  • Innovation and transformation in program design and service delivery
  • Open government, open data and transparency
  • Innovations in transportation 
  • Synergy between economic development and sustainability
  • Smart growth and livable communities
  • Sustainable financial management in cities and communities
  • Trends, issues and practices in national and global health policy

Science and technology are creating breakthroughs in health and medicine, genetics, biotechnology, IT, transportation and other fields, creating new problems for public administrators. New technologies are the source of economic development and growth, and regulators must square those values against safety, equity and other concerns. Scientific evidence has been used to argue for expanded domain and power for some agencies, while detracting from others. A “war on coal and oil” squares natural resource-rich states against the federal Environmental Protection Agency. has explored delivering packages by unpiloted drones, commercial space travel is nearly a reality and driverless cars are now on the road. Each technological breakthrough offers potential for economic development but many also offer more efficient and sustainable approaches that are necessary to preserve our planet, reduce pollution and promote intergenerational equity. This track explores the complexity of technological innovation, related policy and management issues, and its relationship to environmental sustainability and good governance.

Track 4: Ethics, Integrity and Law 

Sample Topical Areas:

  • Professionalism and ethics for public leadership 
  • Transparency and combating corruption 
  • International ethics and corruption issues
  • Defining standards for accountable organizations
  • Ethical dilemmas facing the public administrator
  • Balancing competing values
  • Legal challenges and court decisions
  • Restoring trust and ensuring integrity in government
  • Ethical frameworks and techniques

Transparency is a core democratic and constitutional value, without which other forms of accountability are not possible. It provides the ability for citizens to assess what has occurred within government and is key to developing trust in government. Citizens and stakeholders have heightened expectations for transparency, ethical administration and accountability as a result of the Internet and social media. Technology provides new tools for collecting, processing and delivering information to its consumers, but it also creates new ethical challenges. Ethical administration requires not only transparency but also responsiveness to citizen concerns; it dictates presenting performance information without gaming data to portray the agency in a favorable light. Both public and nonprofit agencies have boldly confronted these challenges and are addressing transparency and ethics in novel ways to promote trust in government.

Track 5: Gender Studies and LGBTQ Issues and Policies

Sample Topical Areas:

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) and the quest for social equity
  • Policy and programming recommendations for gender equality
  • Shattering the glass ceiling
  • Policy issues affecting this community: youth, adults and the elderly
  • Policy development in gender and sexually diverse populations in health care
  • Sexual orientation issues in education
  • Effectively addressing sexuality discrimination in the public sector workplace
  • Gender equality in the public workforce

This track addresses the intersection between gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and culture in the public and nonprofit sectors. It examines policy progress and challenges and the complex role of public administrators in successfully navigating volatile policy changes at the federal, state and local levels. It will also look at gender roles and leadership, as well as contemporary women’s issues in the workplace, while also illustrating the importance of bold advocacy work, particularly in the nonprofit sector, to achieve social equity outcomes in health care, education, workplace discrimination and marriage equality.

Track 6: Human Resources, Leadership and Public Management

Sample Topical Areas:

  • Managing human resources, engaging employees, succession planning and talent management
  • Fostering and managing diversity in the workplace
  • Labor relations, family-friendly workplace practices and employee satisfaction
  • Civil service, merit system reform and pay reforms
  • Leading by example and by process—cases in excellence
  • Strategies to stimulate and harness employee motivation
  • Improved productivity and efficiency
  • Collaborative leadership and governance
  • Whistleblower protection
  • Performance management in human resources

People are society’s greatest resource. Public and nonprofit management rely on human capital for its success. Human resource management has come to emphasize the noble role of public service motivation and cultivating leadership as a means to operate within the changing governance context. Effective human resource management often requires bold actions designed to promote excellence in performance management, protect whistleblowers and demonstrate innovative practices designed to attract diverse, top-notch talent in the public sector at all levels—federal, state and local. Organizations are continually engaged in innovative approaches to attract, retain, motivate, reward and advance employees with the specialized skills necessary to work as part of the complex environment of public and nonprofit administration.

Track 7: Nonprofits, Civic Engagement and Advocacy

Sample Topical Areas:

  • The role of nonprofits in shaping policy
  • Building civil society and voluntary organizations
  • Collaboration with the public sector to provide social and public services
  • Volunteerism and civic engagement
  • Capacity building 
  • Collaboration among nonprofit and NGO professional organizations and associations
  • Public and nonprofit strategies for citizen and stakeholder engagement
  • Citizen engagement and co-delivery of services
  • Open source governance
  • Public consultation and participation
  • Philanthropy and civic engagement
  • The role of professional membership associations 
  • Community visioning and master planning

Collaboration with the nonprofit and public sectors to provide social and public services is essential. Yet the viability and effectiveness of nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is uncertain in today’s complex environment. Collaboration among these organization, and with citizens, is a complex and ever-changing process. Citizens are actively engaged in public and nonprofit administration as volunteers, clients, information seekers, information providers and stakeholders. They are a resource for public and nonprofit programs and agencies have developed new ways to engage them. Focus groups, citizen advisory boards and volunteer organizations provide a source of agency support and knowledge that may improve the quality of service delivery. Citizen engagement holds potential to influence trust in government and enhance performance in novel ways.

Track 8: Policy Analysis, Implementation and Evaluation

Sample Topical Areas:

  • Policy actors and the policy process
  • Policy development and efficiency in service delivery
  • Discretion, front-line workers and policy implementation
  • Application of evidence-based practice to decisionmaking
  • Public administration and public policy domains (e.g., health, education, transportation, gun control and social policy)
  • Closing the loop on policy evaluation—implementing policy recommendations
  • Defining new standards for accountable organizations
  • Using public performance standards and benchmarking to effectively assess policy
  • What gets measured gets done—or does it? Lessons from the field
  • Performance measurement, sustainable development and governance
  • Public policy and affected communities

This track examines policy analysis and policymaking in the field of public administration, specifically by exploring key issues in the policymaking process through formulation, implementation and evaluation. Strengthening the connection between high-quality performance measures and decisionmaking should result in better policies for the communities public administrators serve. How boldly is performance assessed? What are the consequences for public sector organizations? Examining issues regarding bureaucratic influences, administrative challenges and evaluating policy outcomes in the public sector are welcome.

Track 9: Public Administration Theory

Sample Topical Areas:

  • Constitutional democracy and civic education
  • Bureaucracy, epistemology and the public service
  • Theoretical concepts and approaches to advancing public administration
  • The role of theory in public administration—theory and practice versus theory or practice
  • Paradigms in public administration
  • Governance and theory

This track examines bold innovations that have become, or are becoming, the new traditions in public and nonprofit management. Discussion topics include development of such innovations and their theoretical roots, the evaluation and contributions to practice-based evidence and their dissemination. From classical public administration theory to new public management to complexity theory and post-modern approaches—to name a few—all substantially influence our understanding of administration and governance. Salient topics, theoretical foundations, novel techniques and cutting edge research in public administration theory is a core focus of this track. 

Track 10: Public Safety and Emergency Management

Sample Topical Areas:

  • Managing emergencies and advancing public safety
  • Public safety, accountability and public trust
  • Strategic crisis management—local Incidents and global lessons
  • Implementation challenges in homeland security and emergency management
  • Enterprise risk management
  • Learning from the past, planning for the future
  • Facing the unexpected and paying the bills—grants and funding sources 

From hazard mitigation and strategic planning to the urgent deployment of resources in response to major disasters, public safety comprises a major component of local, state and federal government administration. Response to natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy on the Atlantic coast, wildfires in the west or implications of potentially harmful virus outbreaks all present unique and unpredictable challenges to police, fire, EMS and military agencies at all levels. Acts of terror, such as the Charleston Church Massacre and Orlando nightclub shootings, challenge our efforts to prevent danger, minimize its effects and respond efficiently and effectively when necessary. Security is not just a federal responsibility; local and state agencies share responsibility. Noble public administrators are entrusted to protect and serve citizens on a daily basis. But what are the public administration implications when such trust is compromised by previous negative community relationships, civil protest and violence, such as that witnessed in Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan and Texas? Policy debate has intensified over border security and the economic consequences it poses. Agencies often increase their capacity to respond through professionalization, technology, training, equipment and simulation. What happens when these tools are not enough? What innovative approaches offer significant promise?

Track 11: Social Equity, Diversity and Immigration and At-Risk Communities

Sample Topical Areas:

  • Social equity advances in public administration, public management and public policy
  • Structural inequities and institutional racism in the public sector
  • Tribal governance and administration
  • Immigration practices and humanitarian implications
  • Quality and provision of public services in at-risk communities
  • Performance management and social equity
  • Prioritizing marginalized voices across public and nonprofit organizations
  • Race, ethnicity, class, ableism and culture in the public sector
  • Privilege in public administration and policy

This track focuses on saluting the noble work in the field that is advancing principles of social equity in public administration. Enduring challenges confront bold, innovative solutions, performance management and accountability. Understanding the combination of structural inequities and privilege in public administration and policy is fundamental to realizing social equity. Efforts to address at-risk communities are predicated upon a commitment to inclusion, fairness and justice. Diffusion of best and evidence-based practices provides a catalyst for sustained equity in areas such as tribal governance, immigration, race, ethnicity, class, ableism and culture.