ASPA 2020 Annual Conference—2020 Vision for Politics, Policy and Administration

ASPA’s 2020 Annual Conference will engage and empower scholars, administrators, nonprofit leaders and public service professionals across the field through thoughtful dialogue, information sharing and respectful debate on a 2020 Vision for Politics, Policy and Administration. As this year’s theme implies, 20:20 vision is a perfect state. Often, however, that vision is tempered by realities and dynamics frequently outside our control. Yet when we emphasize and model efficiency, effectiveness, economy, equity, ethics and empowerment—along with ASPA’s core values and the foundations of public service—we get closer to realizing that vision.

Call for Proposals

The 2020 conference will delve into this theme by acknowledging our imperfect past, understanding current challenges and identifying innovations and paths toward a 20:20 future. Six concentrations will guide our time together: finance; global public administration; governance; infrastructure; leadership and management; and social equity. Detailed track descriptions are below, including sub-categories to guide your submissions. Please review each description and think carefully about where your proposal fits best. Many topics featured in prior conferences—human resources, public safety, emergency management, public administration theory, legal and ethical frameworks, the environment and technology—are as important to this dialogue as ever. They are incorporated below.

Proposals must pay special attention to efficiency, effectiveness, economy, equity, ethics and empowerment, and the role they play in the research or practice you intend to discuss. They are our cornerstone. Our research is not complete without considering their effects. Our practice is not balanced if they are not fundamental to our programs.

All proposals are due by October 4, 2019.


We need the public and our policymakers to focus on the short- and long-term goals of public infrastructure. Numerous challenges and threats exist: crumbling roads, rails and bridges; inefficient transportation systems; unsustainable energy systems; underdeveloped and inadequate cyber infrastructure; and horrific delays in response to natural disasters and crises. Worse yet, public funding is and will remain inadequate to the needs at hand.

Bringing our infrastructure into 20:20 vision not only will involve fixing our current issues but also include providing for the infrastructure of the future, none of which can be addressed solely at the state or local level. National leadership is a must. How can public administration best manage an ever-complex intergovernmental system, incorporate needed public-private partnerships and keep equity as an equal partner in the discussion? What comes next in this struggling paradox of needs?

We invite innovative research and on-the-ground practices to answer these questions, ideally in ways that are transferable across governmental entities. Papers and panels should address efficiency, effectiveness, economy, equity, ethics and empowerment within their presentations. Sample topic areas include:

  • Road, highway, bridge and tunnel maintenance
  • Best practices for transportation administration
  • Water, energy and food nexus
  • Aging and nonfunctioning infrastructure challenges
  • Management and administration of interdependent systems
  • Smart growth and livable communities
  • Global sustainable governance
  • Technological breakthroughs and emerging trends
  • Using big data to manage infrastructure
  • Technology adoption and best practices
  • Equitable use of technology
  • Environmental policy
  • Ethical infrastructure considerations
  • Intergovernmental collaboration for emergency management
  • Global perspectives on disaster and crisis management

Leadership and Management

Despite an increasing role for current technology—such as artificial intelligence—in government, people remain our greatest resource. More, public and nonprofit management cannot and will not be successful without them. We must empower our employees with the skills they need to work for and lead organizations, including dealing with dissenting viewpoints and opinions, no matter the source. Motivating the team we have, inspiring new members to join our organizations, encouraging (and maybe requiring) continuing education and training, empowering career advancement, helping those who are struggling and enabling feedback at all levels of our organizations are all pieces of this very complicated puzzle.

This track will look at questions related to leadership and management such as workforce management, professional development, team building and leadership, motivation and more from both research and practitioner perspectives. Papers and panels should address efficiency, effectiveness, economy, equity, ethics and empowerment within their presentations. Sample topic areas include:

  • Innovative and effective HR strategies
  • Recruitment, retention, engagement and training
  • Diversity in the workplace
  • Cultivating leadership and succession planning
  • Labor relations, family-friendly workplace practices and employee satisfaction
  • Employee motivation
  • Improving efficiency and productivity
  • Collaborative leadership
  • Whistleblower protection
  • Performance management in human resources
  • Professionalism and ethics for public service
  • Defining standards for accountable organizations
  • Excellence in leadership
  • Cultures of service


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? What problems go unanticipated and end up being costly oversights? What new models have arisen in recent years that warrant further explanation for widespread use?

We invite practices and research aimed at providing mechanisms for public administrators to better understand budgeting, fund public programs, anticipate challenges and address current needs on a shoestring. Papers and panels should address efficiency, effectiveness, economy, equity, ethics and empowerment within their presentations. Sample topic areas include:

  • Performance-informed budgeting and reporting
  • Efficient acquisition, contracts, procurement and grants
  • Public debt and financial transparency
  • Pension and retirement systems
  • Equity and accountability in public funding
  • Ethical public finance
  • Fiscal stress and resource deficiencies
  • Financing and sustaining economic development
  • Public performance standards and benchmarking
  • Public-private partnerships
  • Financing better infrastructure


Managing public resources and public affairs efficiently, effectively, equitably, economically and ethically is the foundation of good governance. To not balance these requirements—to ignore our responsibilities as stewards within the public square—is to set up future public servants for failure. And yet frequently governance challenges and wicked problems prevent engaging all levels of government and other key stakeholders. Ethical failures, the breakdown of the rule of law, deficiencies within public programs, financial mismanagement and administrative confusion all lead to cracks in our foundation.

When good governance takes the reins and civic participation is invited, however, we all thrive. Governance is more than people or programs independent of each other. It is what happens when they intersect, are executed well and serve the public to their best abilities. It is a thing of beauty and there are plenty of examples of it that are begging to be showcased.

We invite panel submissions that seek out such examples across all forms of public service—government entities, nonprofits, NGOs and more. Papers and panels should address efficiency, effectiveness, economy, equity, ethics and empowerment within their presentations. Sample topic areas include:

  • Collaborative and network governance
  • Performance-based initiatives
  • Standards for government performance
  • Nonprofit and NGO collaboration
  • Role of nonprofits in shaping public policy
  • Volunteerism, civic engagement and community visioning
  • Accountability standards and best practices
  • Ethics in governance and elected officials
  • Ethical frameworks and integrity in government
  • The rule of law and good governance
  • Theoretical concepts and approaches
  • Practitioner and academic contributions to research and teaching
  • Education issues and governance

Global Public Administration

The globe may be large, but the public administration world is more inextricably linked than ever before and getting smaller by the day. 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, including public policy approaches, management, collaboration, administrative features and more. Where do we experience similarities? Where can our differences increase fruitful collaboration? How can we apply each for the betterment of all?

This track addresses public administration from a global perspective. What is working well beyond borders and across oceans? Where do common struggles provide for opportunities to work together to solve them? Papers and panels should address efficiency, effectiveness, economy, equity, ethics and empowerment within a global context. Sample topic areas include:

  • Trends and developments in global public administration
  • Federalism, elections and intergovernmental relations
  • Collaboration across public administration organizations
  • Global sustainable governance
  • Democracy and social justice across national boundaries
  • Ethics and combating corruption
  • Immigration and border security
  • Health care around the globe
  • Disaster management around the globe
  • Resilience in government
  • Technology adoption and best practices
  • Emerging models of collaborative governance

Social Equity

Our discipline has yet to pursue social equity with as much energy as it does economy, effectiveness and efficiency. We already know that communities that embrace equity across demographic indicators experience greater economy, effectiveness and efficiency. In short, they succeed. Those that favor the “privileged” few tend to lag behind, struggle with social justice issues and find themselves off-balance.

We invite panels and submissions that provide research that shapes our understanding of social equity and social justice, especially with current programs and policy shifts that showcase the ways public and nonprofit organizations are leading the way. Social equity is a powerful component within issues across the discipline including infrastructure, finance and leadership—already represented within these tracks—as well as immigration, health care, election reform, education and more. We look forward to submissions looking at public administration through this lens. Papers and panels should address efficiency, effectiveness, economy, equity, ethics and/or empowerment within their presentations. Sample topic areas include:

  • Improving service delivery and equity at the local level
  • Gender equity and equality
  • Race, ethnicity, class and culture in the public sector
  • Immigration and humanitarian policies and implications
  • LGBTQIA challenges and concerns
  • Public services in and for at-risk communities
  • Police and community relations
  • Homelessness, youth and the elderly
  • Equity for veterans and within the military
  • Social services and health care administration
  • Equity in the community and the workplace
  • Addressing tribal issues in administration
  • Equitable education and school desegregation
  • Equity through the lens of ethics and the law
  • Elections administration and voter ID laws
  • Equitable use of technology

All proposals are due by October 4, 2019.