The Governance Lab's (GovLab) mission is "to improve people’s lives by changing the way we govern." Our goal is to strengthen the ability of institutions – including but not limited to governments – and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems.

We believe that increased availability and use of data, new ways to leverage the capacity, intelligence, and expertise of people in the problem-solving process, combined with new advances in technology and science can transform governance. We approach each challenge and opportunity in an interdisciplinary, collaborative way, irrespective of the problem, sector, geography, and level of government.

What we do:

  • BUILD: We develop and test prototypes for new platforms to enable open and collaborative problem-solving inside a variety of organizations.
  • TRAIN: We train entrepreneurs, inside and outside government, to tackle public interest challenges using open innovation to take projects from idea to implementation.
  • LEARN: We assess and disseminate information and analysis about governance innovations (successes and failures) globally and their impact on people’s lives.
  • CONNECT: We build networks of policymakers, technologists, designers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and thinkers from across disciplines to gain deeper insights, develop more agile research protocols, and new theories for understanding the transformation of today’s institutions.


Priorities as a partner of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data

The GovLab at NYU Tandon is an action-research center created to improve people’s lives and strengthen democracy by changing the way we govern using new technologies. Focusing on increasing the availability and use of data, combined with new advances in technology and science and leveraging the expertise and know-how of people, The GovLab conducts new research, leads large-scale projects, and develops innovative methodologies and other knowledge products to help strengthen the ability of institutions, — including but not limited to governments — and people to work more data-driven, openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems.

As examples, The GovLab is exploring whether and how open government data, or open data, can be leveraged in developing economies, and as a new asset for development (SDGs 11, 16, 17). The Open Data in Developing Economies initiative has already yielded a number of insights, informed various initiatives, and led to the development of new tools, including The GovLab’s “Periodic Table of Open Data Elements” created to help government officials and others identify enabling conditions and disabling factors that often determine the impact of open data initiatives.

The GovLab’s leading-edge data initiatives also extend to harnessing intelligence gathered from corporate data for public good (SDGs 9, 11, 16, 17). In collaboration with UNICEF, the GovLab is developing a resource and methodology toward establishing Data Collaboratives to leverage data held by private actors, including companies, that can help NGO’s and other public interest organizations; provide datasets to improve the ability of public officials to address the various SDGs; enable more accurate modelling of public service design, and help institutions improve prediction and forecasting, as well as impact assessment and evaluation.

The GovLab also leads a data initiative to examine whether and how blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies can be used for social change such as identity or governance (SDGs 8, 11, 16, 17). Known as Blockchange, the project seeks to use data to yield a more actionable, evidence-based approach to leveraging blockchain technologies, with the first phase of the project testing the hypothesis that applying blockchain attributes to identity management a trusted digital ID can be created.

As these initiatives progress, The GovLab continues to conduct new research, create new scholarship, and develop new tools and resources to unlock and leverage data to transform governance.