Future Federal Government

Future Federal GovernmentI guarantee that the U.S. Federal Government will be different in the future. Besides the fight for ideological direction and political power, there are six trends that will change this landscape. They are systemic challenges that at 8,000 Federal Executives will respond to in the near future–and their response will change the Government.

1. Budget Reduction. Regardless of the policies or methods employed to downsize the budget, all programs are on notice to reduce spending. Budgets will be smaller, and offices will have to perform their mission at the levels expected of them by their stakeholders. Leaders will have to be prudent about how they use contractors, consultants, equipment, and training.

2. Performance Accountability. Since the passing of the Government Performance and Reporting Act of 1993, agencies have sought streamlined ways to plan, organize, execute, and report performance within and across programs. Now, with the 2010 Modernization Act to GPRA, 152 changes are in the pipeline and it will affect the information tied to performance analysis and public awareness.

3. Workforce Development. A third of the Federal workforce is eligible to retire. Talent, information, and know-how can walk out the door, and the existing workforce is in desperate need of a reemergence of performance leadership, where every individual is aware and motivated to enhance the organizations’ performance–not more bureaucracy by the numbers.

4. Cost Controls. The many costs of doing business are not visible, and yet the total cost of running government offices is driving up the total operational expenses. Offices need routine ways of examining the policies and behaviors that affect costs in energy, property, transportation, and outsourcing–as the budgets shrink, the pressure to account for every penny rises.

5. Mobile Productivity. Telework is encouraged in the laws and agency policies, and many government functions require mobility; however, nobody knows how to keep productivity in workers who are out of sight. The pressure is on to find technological means of increasing productivity, regardless of where the worker is located, including means of concentration, engagement, computing convenience, and rapid communications.

6. Localized Innovation. The Federal government is a very large enterprise, with desperate expertise; and yet, we have few means of normalizing conditions for innovation. The entire workforce is held back by the difficulties of sharing insights, testing enhancements, and learning from each other and how we redesign our work structures. A discipline for innovation is necessary–very necessary.

The future of the Federal Government is in the hands of a few leaders. As they respond to these systemic challenges, we will see the trajectory of the bureaucracy–will it become a heavy or light structure–a growth or stagnation of performance capability?

image credit: wittassociates.com

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Managing BureaucratizationDavid Paschane, Ph.D.  is the Government Editor of Innovation Excellence. He is an Organizational Architect from the Washington D.C area. He is an Associate Research Professor at UMBC; a Founder and Volunteer at Military Alumni Transition Career Headquarters (MATCH) and the Director of Strategic Initiatives at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

David Paschane




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No Comments

  1. Suhaib Siddiqi on November 20, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Hi David,

    Thanks for sending link to your blog. It is a very good and thoughtful article. The last point of “Localized Innovations” is of most interest to me. I agree with your analysis. However, in my opinion, innovation is disappearing from the USA. Feds need have strategy for keeping innovation jobs in the US, instead of being outsourced.

  2. Chris Allen on November 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    A master of the obvious you have captured the essence of Future Federal Government, at least short term. Without stepping into the details of your assessment I agree with this outline. Having said that the larger looming discussion, not yet widely understood, or being adequately discussed is the impact of the new dial tone we are all subscribing to and the corresponding ubiquitous access across a very broad, infinitely expanding global knowledge base that we find ourselves immersed in and contributing to. So my question to you or others wishing to respond in this venue is, how do we govern with the event of dynamically and rapid forming non-hierarchical social structures whom not only have access to a vast knowledge base but also are able to harvest human intellect on demand? With this blog, is this not what you are doing here in asking for feedback? Clearly budgeting and financial issues within the government are front and center at the moment and there are many virtual forums where they are being discussed. But who is discussing how we will govern in the 21st Century? For thousands of years now our societal and cultural structures have evolved into hierarchical bodies governed and adjudicated by a small percentage of the population base where information and knowledge have been largely controlled…where are we headed in this 21st Century and how will our societal structures be affected as this shared knowledge base and access to one another shape future state contours and world realities.

  3. Melissa Peery on November 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Another thoughtful post. Thanks!

    Telecommuting and mobility are of great interest to me, along with performance measurement. And it’s here that I would suggest a slight change in wording. Measuring performance for folks who you can’t see or reach out and touch is challenging for the Government but it is something that most successful civilian companies do very well and have for quite some time. It’s because they measure by whether or not someone achieves objectives and tasks assigned to them, rather than where they are physically located during business hours. All the technology in the world won’t matter until this fundamental shift takes place.

  4. Eric Galvin on November 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm


    First I want to say how glad I and many of my friends are that you decided to reelect President Obhama – notwithstanding the immense problems he has in securing agreement to the way ahead in Congress. As you know we have been struggleing with the alient notion (to the UK) of power sharing between two or more parties. I imagine you know that Belgium recently went fr over a year without a functioning government while protracted discussions continued about the make up and direction of a new coalition.

    As others have said this displays a thoughtful ananlysis and insights into the emerging position in the US. Many of the issues have parallels in the UK and some extent in the rest of the EU. As you probably know we are in the midst of trying to reach agreeement between the 27 members on the budget for the next seven years. This of course open the way for our equivalent of “states rights” fundamentalists who want the UK to leave the Union. [They were a major cause of the collapse of the Conservative Government in the mid 1990s].

    In relation to COST CNTROLS and BUDGET REDUCTIONS I think a major problem in the UK is about the way spending is bought to account. For much of my 30 year career in Government we struggled to get accounting systems that drew a proper distinction between “cash out the door” and “management accounting” conventions – and how to deal canges in the value of money over time. In my time with the NHS which include the decision to educe “administrative” costs by 20%. Locally ee developed a focus on “bankable” cost reductions i.e. changes we could make that translate into realisable savings. This demanded a rigorous understanding of fixed and variable costs

    Given my HR background I warm to your point about WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT and inparticular to the risk of losing significant experience from premature retirements. We suffer from this in the UK. The average age
    of officials in the Treasury is 28! Most were in the equivalent of Colege when the current crisis began. Frightening. The challenge is twofold – how to retain the experience and skills needed to tomorrow’s challenges not todays or yesterdays – and how to ensure the next generation of leaders progress on the basis of innovation and creativity ratherthan time serving.

    Four further thoughts:

    * How can the executive get a real grip on the implications of demographic change in the society?. Much was made in our press about the growth of the Latino vote.

    * How does the economic growth / competitiveness imperativebite on every partof government?

    * Can agencies and Departments make progress with the use of social and other networking in communications and service delivery?

    * The ention of Performance Measurement metrics rings bells with me. How can we ensure the metrics focus on the impact of servcires and policies on individuals, businesses and communities – and how can they be aligned for maximum impact?

    Hope these thuhts from across the water help the debate at the margins.


  5. hebron on November 27, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Telework should not be confused with telecommuting. Telework in the government context only means working from an alternate facility, not working from home, the smartphone, etc. The government is not serious about working from home just yet, nor can they be until goal #2 is reached (performance accountability). I think it’s a long, long way off.

  6. Vasant Moharir on December 8, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Dear Dr. Paschane. I have no problem accepting the main issues for the Federal Government in USA which you have pointed out. I think an important factor which is affecting both the form and content of governance everywhere is globalization. Here in European Union because of inability to deal effectively with economic downturn caused by globalization, some countries may be forced to leave the Union or some may decide themselves to do this voluntarily if they have strategic resources. Recently In Texas a major movement started to seek separate Republican status. I feel that globalization will radically change the nature and content of both the federal and unitary states.
    Vasant Moharir, Netherlands

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