It’s obviously too soon to tell what elements will comprise the next president’s commitments to better manage the government. The elements will depend on the direction of the campaigns, the personal interests of the candidates in engaging in such issues, and of course the broader context. However, the context and the perspectives that may frame such an agenda are already being developed in a series of different forums. I just returned from one such forum on Web 2.0 and the future of collaborative government. A fellow blogger, Anne Laurent, covers it well in her blog today.
Of course the Government Accountability Office offers a contextual framework to discuss government-wide management issues. Its 2006 report on 21st Century challenges facing the nation outlines about 200 questions that policy makers should be asking in order to reexamine the base of the federal government’s future commitments, including questions about management. In 2007, it issued a potential agenda for action. More recently, it has been releasing a series of reports that focus on how the fiscal condition of the government, and its future commitments, may circumscribe what government does and how it does it.
The IBM Center published a report recently, Ten Challenges Facing Public Managers, that gives our best guess of what we think are a set of management issues the government will face in the coming years. These challenges include not only GAO’s fiscal concerns but also the role of results, the impending crisis of competence, and the blurring of boundaries when delivering services.
More globally, another IBM think tank, the Institute for Business Value, also recently released a report “Government 2020 and the Perpetual Collaboration Mandate,” which identifies six worldwide drivers that will influence governments across the globe. Drivers such as demographics will affect countries differently. For example, in Iran nearly 70 percent of the population is under 30. In Japan, over 25 percent of the population will be over 65 by 2020. These different demographic mixes strongly influence what public services will be needed. Similarly in the U.S., demographics will strongly influence demands for a different mix of public services as well.
IBM also released its global 2008 survey of chief executive officers. This survey of 1,100 CEOs cover both the public and private sectors and is revealing in that it reflects a pervasive rethinking of how enterprises, like large government agencies, will have to dramatically remake themselves in order to effective respond to the major drivers. Flexiblity and collaborative behaviors are both seen as key factors.
Outside IBM, other think tanks are also examining the broader trends and context. Just one example, Deloitte Research recently released a report on the future of collaborative government and Web 2.0. Its work parallels efforts underway at the National Academy for Public Administration, which is sponsoring a collaborative governance effort, as well.
These varied reports identify a wide spectrum of trends and drivers, but there are significant overlaps. The overlaps may be areas where a new president may choose to focus since these are areas where there seems to be growing consensus as to what the challenges (and potential priorities) may be.
Taken together, the trends seem to be to transform government to have more foresight, to be more collaborative in nature, to be more results-focused, to be more transparent, and to engage citizens more actively in both governance and solutions to personal and community challenges. How these broad trends might play out in terms of specific initiatives is unclear. But that’s the exciting part.
Are there trends you think should be added to the agenda?