GovMaker Conference

GovMaker Conference

GovMaker 2019, April 29-30, Fredericton Convention Centre

Call for Abstracts

Population and Economic Growth Through Open Democracy

Presented by: New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network

Abstract Deadline: March 15, 2019

The New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network (NBSPRN) is proud to host the 5th GovMaker Conference on April 29 and 30, 2019 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. GovMaker advances open government theory and practice by mobilizing knowledge, creating cross-sector relationships and building the capacity of citizens and governments to engage in open dialogue, open data, and open collaboration.  This year we will be focusing on the open democracy tools of the power of data and evidence, design thinking and citizen engagement in exploring public policy challenges in population growth, economic growth and healthy aging.

This year’s conference will take place over two days, along three policy streams: Population growth, economic growth and healthy aging. The conference will be composed of presentations and panels sharing knowledge and theories, and will include workshops designed to share tools, resources and experiences in open government practice.  We will be building partnerships to tackle policy issues of the day such as population growth, economic growth and healthy aging. We will be using some of the tools of open democracy, learned in conference workshops to do this.

At the frontiers of 21st century democracy, we are seeking stories and experiments that demonstrate how citizens and governments have been putting theory into practice through the power of data and evidence, design thinking and citizen engagement. We seek abstracts for presentations on projects that have contributed to (or show promise of) making our institutions more open by small steps or quantum leaps.

Three types of contributions are suggested:

  1. Panel discussion (4 panelists plus a moderator)
  2. Presentation (lightning talk or pecha kucha)
  3. Workshop

We welcome abstract submissions (maximum 250 words) outlining your proposed panel, presentation or workshop. Please indicate your selection in the title of your abstract. Accepted abstracts will be invited to present during the conference.

  • Those accepted for a panel discussion will be asked to help GovMaker invite panelists and select a moderator.
  • Those accepted for a presentation will be invited to present for either 30 minutes or to give a ten-minute lightning talk.
  • Accepted workshop proponents will be asked to prepare a more detailed outline for the workshop which will be allotted up to two hours.

The abstract committee will on occasion suggest a different format than the one suggested, to ensure the inclusion of as many good ideas as possible in the two days.

Presentations, panels and workshops will be filmed and included online on the GovMaker Conference website. The GovMaker Conference is organized and funded on a cost-recovery basis. All presenters are required to cover their own costs and register to attend and present (registration and payment can be made after acceptance notification has been received).

Successful participants will be notified no later than two weeks following the submission deadline (March 15, 2019).


Please email your submissions to, in the subject line of the email include: 2019 GovMaker Conference Abstract Submission

Please include:

  • Title of your proposed session
  • Indication of either panel, presentation, or workshop
  • Indication of chosen theme: Power of data and evidence, design thinking or citizen engagement.
  • Indication of link to policy streams of population growth, economic growth and healthy aging.
  • Abstract of up to 250 words
  • Presenting author/facilitator name and email
  • Name and affiliation for all authors/facilitators (including presenting author)


Evidence – One cannot overestimate the critical importance of data and evidence relative to open government. As we move towards more inclusive policy development and decision making, data and other evidence are essential to facilitate evidence-based dialogue.  We want to hear from those in government, community and academia working to facilitate more open government through evidence- based decision making.

Design thinking: putting citizens/users at the centre – Citizens today expect more transparent, accessible, and responsive services from the public sector. And those expectations are rising. Part of the problem is that despite their best intentions, many governments continue to deliver services based on their own requirements and processes instead of the needs of the people they serve. Forward-thinking governments are taking a step back—thinking carefully about what citizens want and investing in novel and more effective ways of delivering those outcomes. Tell us your success stories – and your agile experiments in which you failed small, failed fast, and learned the path to success.

We are especially looking for innovation with a user centred policy and process design in the policy areas of population growth, economic growth and healthy aging.

People Power: Citizen Engagement – The heart of any government is people: the people it serves and the people who do the work to serve. Uniting those two groups in a practical way will prove that one plus one can be more than two. Whether in policy or service creation, all parties should have an avenue to be part of the design. Citizens are demanding from government what they get from other sectors: digital services that are personalized and always accessible. Who better to help government design them? And how can government leverage that passion and expertise to look beyond service design and collaborate with citizens to solve public problems? Bring us your stories of service co-design, crowdsourcing, prizes/challenges, public/social innovation labs, and things as yet untried.

The GovMaker Conference offers an unparalleled opportunity to interact with leaders in
open data and open government. Past conferences featured high profile speakers such as:

  • Dr. Beth Novak, Director of The Governance Lab and MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance
  • Alan Kantrow, Senior Advisor, The Governance Lab
  • Zaid Hassan, Author of the Social Labs Revolution and Co-founder of Reos Partners
  • Dana Chisnell, Design Researcher at the United States Digital Service and co-author
    of The Handbook of Usability Testing
  • Santiago Siri, President and Co-founder of DemocracyOS
  • Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University
  • Alex Ryan, Vice-President of System Innovation and Program Director, MaRS Solution Lab
  • Colleen McCormick, Director of Economic and Corporate Initiatives, Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology, Province of British Columbia


An open government strives for transparency, encourages civic participation, and promotes collaboration. The late Hon. Andy Scott had this same vision when he founded the New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network (NBSPRN). NBSPRN is a partnership between the Government of New Brunswick, the University of New Brunswick, Université de Moncton, St. Thomas University, CCNB, and NBCC with the mission to advance citizen engagement and evidence-based policy development.

Structured on the value of networked governance, NBSPRN takes a horizontal approach to policy making by bringing together citizens from across sectors: community organizations, civil servants, policy makers, business leaders, and academics. These types of cross-sectoral networks represent the combinations we need to increase citizen participation and create a more open form of government, one that develops solutions with society, not for society – and that has the framework and passion to continue co-creating solutions in a world of complexity and change.

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Thank you