In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, we heard again and again that our government needed to be better managed. “Everything has changed” was the constant refrain—11 years ago. Fortunately, now there is a unique convergence between current challenges, the need for government leaders to act in a fundamentally different way, a generational shift in executive ranks, and powerful new collaborative technologies. Here are some of the changes that await our next commander in chief and the leaders of the incoming Congress:
Human Resources: The Chinese write the word “crisis” with two characters, one of which means “danger” and the other “opportunity.” The pending workforce crisis (or as some refer to it, “the retirement tsunami”) also can be viewed as a tremendous opportunity to reshape the federal government, flatten hierarchies, remake the way government and citizens interact, and change the culture of the bureaucracy.
Changing Workplace: Consider how the world has changed in the last thirty years. Then people came to work at a central office, the major role of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) was to manage or build the multitude of federal buildings and offices to house all those workers, and telework was largely unknown. Contrast that with today and what the Gartner Group terms “Future Worker 2015.” Personal computers and cell phones are ubiquitous, telework is routine, and business partners are as likely to be on different continents as in different cities.
Changing Workforce: The Federal Chief Information Officers Council (CIOC) recently completed a study entitled “Net Generation: Preparing for Change in the Federal Technology Workforce.” Discussing this new generation of federal employees, the report said:
“As a generation, they are over 80 million strong, larger in fact than the Baby Boomer generation. They cannot be ignored as the major source of talent to recruit, develop and retain over the next decades. Additionally, there is much to admire about this generation. They are ambitious and innovative, enjoy teamwork, and understand technology.”
Changing Technology: One can argue that Web 2.0 technologies have ushered in a new era of rapidly expanding content and information sharing capabilities. And, over time, they will dramatically change the way organizations work internally and how they interact with their external citizen and customer base. A number of departments and agencies are increasing their use of Web 2.0 social media technologies for both internal and external applications. Collaborative tools can now be considered mainstream.
The federal government will be undergoing tremendous change on many levels over the next several years. Any one of the changes listed above would be a major driver for government, but their convergence creates a perfect management storm for our nation today and an opportunity for the next President, partnering with the new Congress, to dramatically reshape the bureaucracy by leveraging IT to forge a 21st century government. To do so, we have made the following recommendations:
- Issue a Statement of Principles and an Action Plan for implementing An Enhanced Digital Government Agenda;
- Foster a Dynamic Citizen Engagement program;
- Reorganize the Office of the Chief Information Officer;
- Improve IT Project Management;
- Rebuild trust in government through greater transparency; and
- Improve information security while ensuring personal privacy.
These memos were jointly authored by Alan Balutis, Daniel Chenok, Gary Bass, Frank Reeder, and Alan Shark.