Policy Terps address the world’s most pressing problems. At the heart of many is a common thread: technology. Facing the complexity of these issues is also at the heart of one of the School of Public Policy’s centers: The Center for the Governance and Technology of Systems (GoTech).
“How do we, as humans, govern all this technology?” says Charles Harry, associate research professor and director of GoTech. “That is so important.”
To research the breadth of these issues, the Center has taken a holistic, multi stakeholder approach to understanding and governing complex and technical and human systems.
“The broad integration between technology and human systems is a fundamental challenge in the 21st century, whether you're talking about cyber security issues, space, feeding a growing and hungry population, or managing the emergence of new diseases like COVID-19,” Harry says.
The Center’s first major project, focused on supply chain and acquisition, is closely tied to its founding mission. Formerly the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise (CPPPE), Jacques “Jack” Gansler, professor emeritus, founded the organization to focus on issues of government acquisition and the integration of the private and the public sectors.
Harry took the reins when former CPPPE Director David Mussington began a leave of absence to serve as executive assistant director of the Infrastructure Security Division at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Since then, Harry has focused on broadening the Center’s mission to deal with the fundamental problems that technology governance presents across sectors.
“We still have a great amount of expertise dedicated to issues of acquisition, supply chain and security. They are part of this broader technological ecosystem.” Harry says. “[I felt we needed to] create a more holistic vision that allowed us to continue on with the legacy that [Gansler] left us with, as well as build out into the future as things are changing in the 21st century.”
GoTech’s other projects include one on cybersecurity concerns surrounding critical infrastructure and a new project focused on targeting strategies that malicious actors might use to attack roadside infrastructure.
“At the heart of what GoTech does is trying to ascertain and develop means by which we can analyze complexity in the integration of technical and human systems,” Harry explains.
In the next year, GoTech is planning on expanding its relationships, both externally and within the University and the School. Currently, the Center’s partnerships encompass private and public sector organizations, including LMI Consulting, Cisco, the National Science Foundation, the Center for Internet Security and the University of Georgia.
“[We want to] provide and action the theoretical ideas that we're developing through our research,” Harry says. “And to demonstrate that these things that have been developed here at the University of Maryland can be leveraged in the real world to effectively make us more broadly safe in society.”
Part of this vision, Harry says, also involves close collaboration with the other centers at the School of Public Policy. One of Harry’s goals for GoTech is to de-silo technology policy—which starts right at SPP.
“The way that I see GoTech is not that it sits on this separate island, only doing tech policy,” he says. “It should be integrated into some of the other missions that we see within SPP.”
Harry is currently working on a paper with the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland. Last year, the two centers collaborated on launching the Cyber Events Database. Harry said he also sees synergy between tech policy, sustainability and civic engagement.
“It's important for us to be able to bring [cyber policy] out of its narrow view into something where you can show direct connections to how it's supporting constituents,” Harry says. “[We have to] explore all of the dimensions from privacy to security, to acquisition, to sustainment. All of these things matter.”