2019 Annual Conference—A Call to Action: Advancing Public Service

Public finance, Infrastructure.  Social Equity.  Public Service.  Among public administration’s most significant 21st century challenges, these four issues transcend geographic boundaries, sectors and levels of government.  They impact the lives of citizens every minute of every day.  They are researched, discussed and applied by our members in our public, private and nonprofit institutions.

ASPA’s 2019 Annual Conference is a Call to Action on these issues. We who are dedicated to the public good must answer the call—those who deliver services amid distrust in government institutions and dwindling resources; academics and scholars who connect theory to practice; non- and for-profit organizations that operate in a world that blurs the distinction between “public” and “private;” and a new generation of professionals who define public service much differently from their predecessors.

Advancing public service—effectively, efficiently and equitably, with a focus on the citizen—requires an unprecedented level of understanding and cooperation. Through the lenses of public finance, infrastructure, social equity, public service and global public administration, the 2019 Annual Conference will highlight innovative scholarship and tested on-the-ground practices that definitively advance public service in the United States and beyond.  

Call for Proposals

Featuring five tracks, the 2019 Annual Conference will provide a focused approach to showcase exemplary scholarship and practice in the field. Many of the topics featured in prior ASPA conferences—including human resources, public management, ethics and integrity, public safety, emergency management, public administration theory, the environment and technology—are as important to this dialogue as ever. They are incorporated in this year’s five tracks. Please review each track description and think carefully about where your proposal fits best.

Track reviewers especially welcome new research and practice, as well as current updates to previous or traditional models. Practice- and field-based work is encouraged. Please do not propose presentations based on literature reviews. Find other panel and workshop guidelines online here.

Public Finance

No matter the public program or service, government must be able to pay for it. Operating in an environment where uncertainty is the norm, predictability can be finance’s best friend. What tools can finance and budget offices use to identify and address problems before they happen, make fiscally responsible decisions and operate effectively? We invite practices and research aimed at providing ways for administrators to better understand budgeting, fund public programs, anticipate challenges and address current needs on a shoestring. Public administrators can understand and master finance; this track will show them how.

Sample topic areas include:
  • Performance-informed budgeting and reporting
  • Acquisition, contracts, procurement and grants
  • Public debt and financial transparency
  • Retirement systems
  • Fiscal stress and resource deficiencies
  • Financing and sustaining economic development
  • Public performance standards and benchmarking
  • Public-private partnerships
  • Public health costs, care and maintenance
  • The ethics of budgeting


In the United States and beyond, public infrastructure faces an uphill battle. Examples include crumbling bricks-and-mortar bridges and highways, crowded transportation systems, underdeveloped cyber infrastructure and waterways fraught with health and transportation concerns. Addressing the infrastructure challenge is not about bringing aging systems up to prior standards; it is about foreseeing an infrastructure for the future. How will we pay for it, especially given unpredictable funding streams? How will we manage it with an ever-complex intergovernmental system and reliance on public-private partnerships? We invite innovative research and on-the-ground practices to answer these questions, ideally in ways that are transferable across governmental entities. The stakes have never been higher.

Sample topic areas include:
  • Road, highway, bridge and tunnel maintenance
  • Water and power management
  • Nonfunctioning infrastructure challenges
  • Management and administration of interdependent systems
  • Smart growth and livable communities
  • Technological breakthroughs and emerging trends
  • Using big data to manage infrastructure
  • Environmental policy
  • Ethical infrastructure considerations
  • Intergovernmental collaboration for emergency management

Social Equity

Equity, or the lack of it, underpins government’s most important work. Not only should public servants be treated in an equitable fashion, but also the services they provide must be equitable for society to truly advance. Infrastructure must be equitable to enable success for our most under-served populations. Government budgeting and finance must be equitable to enable public works to serve all people. Nations must think globally to ensure their domestic audiences are well served in geo-political contexts. And, we must understand ways to measure the success and impact of equity in public programs. We invite panels and submissions that provide research to shape our understanding of these issues and on-the-ground programs that showcase government for all, done well and equitably.

Sample topic areas include:
  • Public services in and for at-risk communities
  • Immigration policies and implications
  • Police and community relations
  • Social services and health care administration
  • Equity in the community and the workplace
  • Addressing tribal issues in administration
  • Equitable education
  • Equity through the lens of ethics and the law
  • Elections administration
  • The opioid crisis
  • Equitable use of technology

Public Service

Public service is a bold and noble profession, but one too often subject to demoralizing commentary and pejorative characterization. In the meantime, the rules and practices under which civil servants operate—from recruitment to retention, engagement to training—are drawing heightened attention with an eye toward putting best practices and reform into action. We invite panel submissions that highlight what is working—and working well—across all levels of government, as well as the non-profit sector and those dedicated to the public good.

Sample topic areas include:
  • Performance-based initiatives
  • Standards for government efficiency
  • Innovative HR strategies
  • Employee recruitment, retention and training
  • Cultivating leadership
  • Nonprofit and NGO collaboration
  • Volunteerism
  • Civic engagement, community visioning and public service motivation
  • Accountability standards and best practices
  • Ethics in public service
  • Transitions between military and public service

Global Public Administration

The globe may be large, but the public administration world is more inextricably linked than ever before. Actions in nation-states can directly, often quickly, affect policy and administration in others. As important, one nation’s experiences can inform others, providing best practices that bridge the geographic divide and can be applied in a global context. This track addresses public administration from an international perspective. What is working well beyond borders and across oceans? Where do common struggles provide for opportunities to work together to solve them?

Sample topic areas include:
  • Disaster management around the globe
  • Federalism, elections and intergovernmental relations
  • Collaboration across public administration organizations
  • Global sustainable governance
  • Applied ethics and combating corruption
  • Immigration and border security
  • Health care around the globe
  • Developing an effective administrative structure
  • Best practices for transportation administration
  • Resiliency in government
  • Technology adoption and best practices