Smart government is used to characterize activities that creatively invest in emergent technologies coupled with innovative strategies to achieve more agile and resilient government structures and governance infrastructures. However, there is no consensus in terms of what this term includes and how it is related to emergent technologies and innovation in the public sector. This introductory paper provides readers with ways to think about smart government and summarizes findings from twelve articles included in this special issue. These articles, which are the best papers of the 6th International Conference on the Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV2012), contribute to emerging understanding of being smart in government settings. The articles span a great diversity of related topics such as smart cities, open government, and participation mechanisms. Collectively, the articles provide perspectives on the nature of smart governments and illustrate exemplar practices and initiatives on how governments are opening up and transforming service delivery to become smarter. The special issue in its entirety contributes to understanding governance structures, technical infrastructures, and other requirements geared toward supporting the operations of smarter governments around the world. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.