No one knows exactly what the government of 2020 is going to look like, but Deloitte has an idea — and technology plays a big role in it.
Since last fall, Deloitte Director of Public Research Bill Eggers has been piloting a research project called Gov2020. As the name suggests, Eggers — who is said to have coined the term Government 2.0 in his book of the same name — is developing a forecast of what government five years down the road should look like.
“Over the last five years, we’ve been doing a lot of work looking at reinventing, reimagining different areas of government based on the technologies and the societal trends we’re seeing,” Eggers told FedScoop.
The project consists of 39 “drivers” among six broader categories, three of which are technology-focused, and 194 corresponding government trends. For example, on the website, visitors can explore how cloud computing, a digital technology, will drive things like ” evidence-based care,” “improved risk detection” and “government as a food truck.”
“Each driver and trend, they have a relationship with each other,” Eggers said. “If you’re just interested in robotics, you can see all the different ways robotics is likely to impact government over the next five years.”
Gov2020 is meant to be a massive, in-depth resource for officials to contemplate the changes in the government landscape, Eggers said.
“I wanted to pull a lot of that deep research together into one place, one site, which is really focused on the future of government and in an easy interactive way that’s brought together thousands and thousands and thousands — tens of thousands — of hours of research and analysis,” he said. “And that’s what Gov2020 is. And the idea is to help government officials to look around the corner, look around the curve and see what’s coming, so they can be ready for it. The last thing you want is to be caught unaware and end up years and years behind what’s going on in the private sector.”
The project, however, isn’t meant to be a crystal ball. It’s adaptive and will continue to change to reflect new drivers and trends as they develop.
“This is a living site, and a year from now you’ll see a lot of trends that weren’t there right now,” the director said. “As we learn more, as we do more workshops with government officials, as we get more feedback, we’ll add to it, we’ll subtract things. But if you look at some of the trends, some of these are pretty universal, and people understand they’re going to be very impactful.”
Nevertheless, Eggers is confident that many of the trends will show within the next five or so years.
“It’s really about what is possible and, in some cases, what is probable,” he said of the nearly 200 trends. “A lot of that will happen. Some of it will be widespread, and some of it will happen in just pockets.”
Parsing through so many trends may leave you dizzy and overwhelmed. But Eggers gave FedScoop a broader idea of how he sees government evolving.
In a few words, he described something nimble, dependent on public participation and less a problem solver than a “solution enabler.”
“Government is not alone anymore as being one of the main actors in coming up with solutions to big, hairy societal problems,” Eggers said. “You’ve got millions of social enterprises playing a role, social startups, you have nonprofits, you have business, which is trying to achieve a double and triple bottom line, and so more and more, government’s role doesn’t just become ‘How do we solve this problem?’ but ‘How do we help align all of that innovation and all of those resources toward trying to solve the problem?'”
The White House’s SmartAmerica Challenge was an example of this, where the private sector put the resources and ideas forward to create a solution convened by government, Eggers said. Prizes and challenges promote the same idea.
“All of those are about bringing in the best ideas from outside government to bear on the problems that government is trying to solve,” he said. “And that’s the future of government.”
Eggers and Gov2020 want to prepare for that future.
“Gov2020 is about creating a conversation about the future and the future of government,” Eggers said. “And the more people are thinking about these areas, the more prepared governments and citizens can be for the future, which can look quite bright, if we’re ready for it.”