Thomas Vogl is an OII DPhil student and member of Balliol College. His thesis examines the relationship between digital technologies and organizational memory in the public sector, specifically looking at child protection services in Canada and the UK. He has received generous support to pursue this research from the Clarendon Fund, Balliol College, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund.
Thomas has an overarching interest in the role of the Internet in the machinery of government. In his research, he aims to extend our understanding of organizational memory beyond mere information processing to resolve puzzles related to digital change, organizational amnesia, and administrative inertia. He uses an interpretive approach grounded in interview, document analysis, and observation. This research is expected to provide novel insights into:
- The scope of applicability of data science and artificial intelligence in government (and its limitation to that which is recorded in digital form);
- How organizations can be data rich but meaning poor (for example having detailed records about whether a social worker visits a child every month, but little understanding of how that child is doing, or what could be done to avoid family breakdown in the first instance); and
- Why organizations can experience a gap between successful technology implementation and the extent to which the technology achieves stated organizational objectives (for example by having an enterprise system used by social workers across the service sector, but with data quality issues so dire that usable analysis may not be possible without significant manual intervention).
Thomas worked for four years in the Ontario Public Service, a provincial public service in Canada, on policy related to child welfare, corporate finance, and child and youth mental health. During that time, he was involved in policy work on both networked information technology systems in the children’s services sector and the legislative and regulatory frameworks that surround client privacy and the collection, use, and disclosure of their information. As a member of the System Transition Team he was awarded the 2015 Amethyst Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by Ontario public servants.
Thomas completed a Master of Public Policy at the University of Toronto in 2012. He was awarded the National Student Award from the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration in 2011 and was supported through his studies by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and a Master’s Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He also holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of British Columbia.
Digital government; organizational memory; public administration; fundamental ontology.