Roberts is a professor at the School of Public Policy. He writes extensively on problems of governance, law, and public policy. His most recent book, Strategies for Governing: Reinventing Public Administration for a Dangerous Century (Cornell University Press) received the 2021 Book Award from the American Society for Public Administration's Section on Public Administration Research.
Roberts is also the author of Can Government Do Anything Right? (Polity Books, 2018), Four Crises of American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2017), The End of Protest: How Free-Market Capitalism Learned to Control Dissent, (Cornell University Press, 2013), America’s First Great Depression (Cornell University Press, 2012), The Logic of Discipline: Global Capitalism and the Architecture of Government (Oxford University Press, 2010), The Collapse of Fortress Bush: The Crisis of Authority in American Government (New York University Press, 2008), and Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age, (Cambridge University Press, 2006). Blacked Out received the Brownlow Book Award from the US National Academy of Public Administration and three other academic book awards. The Logic of Capitalism received an honorable mention from the Best Book award committee of the American Society of Public Administration’s Section on Public Administration Research. Roberts has also won several awards for his journal articles.
Roberts was the inaugural director of the School of Public Policy from 2017 to 2022. He was elected as a fellow of the US National Academy of Public Administration in 2007. From 2009 to 2017, he was co-editor of the journal Governance. He serves on the editorial boards of several other journals in the field of public administration.
He has a PhD in public policy and a master's of public policy from Harvard University and a JD from the University of Toronto.