In preparation for the 2008 presidential transition, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) published an issue paper, Governing with Foresight: Institutional Changes to Enhance Fact-Based Decision-Making in the Executive Office of the President. That paper noted that: “Some careful observers have found little if any institutional capacity to focus on cross-cutting outcomes and that there is an increasing lack of national consensus on priorities and future directions.” It outlined several potential approaches the incoming president might take, which included:
Elements of these approaches have been adopted in various federal agencies, but not in a comprehensive way. And, in hindsight, these approaches were not really about “strategic foresight.” However, over the past eight years, more attention has been given to the topic of strategic foresight, and more interestingly, a bottom-up, self-organizing community of interest has evolved among staff in a wide range of federal agencies who are engaged in foresight initiatives. So the groundwork is being laid to build on these efforts in the next presidential Administration.
This Panel will examine efforts in Strategic Foresight that have been effective within the federal government and in other sectors to determine what principles and policies might be adopted by a new Administration.
The Academy has appointed several panels to develop background papers for the upcoming presidential transition. The focus of these panels is based on a poll in mid-2015 of NAPA fellows who identified management topics they felt were critical for the success of the next president. This panel, on Strategic Foresight, is comprised of several NAPA fellows as well as invited experts from the field. In addition, Grant Thornton has provided staff support and Booz Allen Hamilton has offered to help organize strategic foresight sessions in support of the effort.
We plan to develop a background white paper and recommendations.The Panel will undertake a range of activities to develop a background white paper that outlines issues and options, and an accompanying set of recommendations, to include:
The Panel has already met several times and administered a survey to NAPA fellows to solicit their insights. It will launch a series of weekly blog posts, with this being the first, to share insights of panel members and solicit your insights in response. The intent is that these blog posts — and the comments from readers — will serve as the building blocks for our report.
These blog posts will run through February and then the Panel will begin drafting its report and recommendations, with a target completion of the end of April 2016.
In addition to the blogs, it will jointly host with Booz Allen Hamilton, beginning in March 2016, a series of in-person table-top exercises on selected topics to demonstrate how foresight scenarios are developed, and their potential value to decision makers. In the course of these exercises, we hope to engage opinion-influencers from a wide spectrum of perspectives.
If you have read this far, you must be interested! So, please join us on line in the blog forum and provide your insights. We would also like concrete examples of where foresight initiatives have been developed, and are particularly interested in examples of where foresight has influenced specific policy decisions in government.