Challenge Grant: The Government of the Future - Looking to 2040


Challenge Grant: The Government of the Future - Looking to 2040

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 - 11:06

Provided below are proposals presenting applicants' 2040 vision for the structure and operations of government. Please provide feedback on the following proposals by emailing us the proposal number and your comment. Deadline for the 300-word proposals is February 28, 2018.

Proposal 1:

Investing in Resilient Communities

By 2040, government will be focused on investing in more resilient communities. 2017 gave the United States an unfortunate preview of what will become increasingly common - natural disasters of exponential magnitude. From hurricanes to wildfires, climate change and rising seas will effect the United States from coast to coast.

How will communities bounce back from these frequent adversities? Besides the initial response, how can communities overcome the lasting economic hardships? Resilient Economic Development and Urban Planning will become more colloquial terms at the local and state levels. More and more, communities will need to think regionally if they're to become more resilient. Resilient communities will demand that governments think beyond traditional jurisdictional boundaries.

We are only beginning to learn what we can do today to invest in a resilient future. My proposal is to examine the salient areas of community resilience and outline a road map that governments can use to develop their resiliency strategies.

Proposal 2:

A Workforce in the Future

By 2040 the following changes are likely: (1) growing complexity and rate of change of organizations, networks, and technologies, will increase the number of problems that require agility and operation across organizational boundaries to address, and (2) most government workers will need advanced degrees and skill sets to add value in managing delivery of public services. (3) Depending how the United States addresses income and skills inequality, government could be smaller, or perhaps larger if government becomes a vehicle to provide meaningful employment for many people.

Organization of government agencies could reflect a pattern similar to that proposed by Diane Disney many years ago at the Department of Defense: (1) a small cadre of full-time permanent top civil servants overseeing (2) a larger group of term civil service employees (to allow an agency to refresh its skills regularly, while permitting a body of civil servants large enough to oversee contractors well), and (3) a much larger body of contractors.

Management will require increased skills, including interpersonal skills, to (1) coordinate and collaborate across public, private, and nonprofit organizational boundaries, (2) implement Enterprise Risk Management and strategic foresight, and (3) use pilot projects and experiments and other evidence-based approaches to persuade policymakers of the wisdom of new ways to deliver public services. Changing technology will create increasing cultural gaps between age groups. While a hierarchy will continue to exist, government managers will need to treat their workforces as a network, especially since activity often will involve multiple organizations and individuals. Network management requires use of chains of command of individual organizations to ensure allocation of resources and employee attention to leadership priorities, but often by eliciting performance rather than merely instructing members of the network what to do. Complexity of network relations will require special attention to compliance with ethical standards.

Proposal 3:

The Distributed, Multi-Layer Republic

After the cryptocurrency collapse of the late 20-teens, the underlying blockchain technology ultimately finds a completely different popular use: distributed politics. The emergence of distributed contribution to politics began as a far-left backlash to combat hard-right control with pure democracy but eventually evolved into a more reasonable system of layered representation where representatives prioritize national initiatives based on the vote-share contributed to them. By 2040, this approach of moderated direct representation has taken root as the pre-eminent national means for political contribution and is starting to chip away at the distinctions of what a nation-state means in the long run.

Proposal 4:

A Useful Point of Reference for Critical Infrastructure Resilience

The purpose of this paper is to frame the elements of the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Integration Engineering process, management, and engineering considerations with attention to the roles of the Resilience Integrator and the Intelligent Middleman and the convincing evidence of Resilience Integration Engineering earned value analytics used in calculating resilience risk.

The critical infrastructure is the industrial base on which the competitiveness and security of the nation are dependent. The current state of the nation’s critical infrastructure is at risk as the Internet has become the central nervous system of the nation both private and public. The nation’s critical infrastructure continues to be vulnerable to natural disasters and cascading Cyber Security attacks. In fact, software has become the critical infrastructure within the critical infrastructure. It is here in the mashup among an immature software profession, a vulnerable Cyber Security environment, and diverse and interdependent industry sectors that the challenge of system of systems resilience is born.

A resilient-ready Critical Infrastructure would achieve adversary deterrence by cost imposition and perhaps even deterrence by denial of particular objectives as long as there is a convincing credible will and demonstrable capability. Systematically measuring earned value resilience assurance evidence is an important step in calibrating and establishing convincing credibility of will and demonstrable capability.

This is made difficult by the context and culture challenges of the industry sectors within the critical infrastructure. The capabilities needed to impact crosscutting issues cannot be expected to evolve in a loosely coupled environment. They must be holistically specified, architected, designed, implemented, and tested if they are to operate with resilience under stress. A management, process, and engineering maturity framework is necessary to advance the assurance of software security, business continuity, system survivability, and system of systems resiliency capabilities.

Proposal 5:

The Individual is the State

In 2040, with the ongoing exponential growth in technology (i.e., the march to the singularity), the power of individuals on many levels will begin to grow exponentially as well. Whereas the concept of self-determination historically led to autonomous groups of individuals to form states and principalities, by 2040 self-determination as a political construct will essentially give way to the practice of the individual as a state. International relations will be conducted between individuals as states, and thus the concept of a state governed by a particular form of government will give way to associations of individuals bound together by treaties and enforced mostly through mutual benefit and interests (similar to alliances and trade blocs historically negotiated by nation-states). Individuals as states will also issue their own currencies and debt, as well as function as their own central bank, due to developments in distributed technologies across a myriad of disciplines and human activities. The development of AI will supplement the workforce of each "individual as a state", by providing enhanced capabilities and skill sets, with AI also acting as a "populace" that also supports the "individual as a state". This development will not lead to anarchy in most cases, but rather to an enhanced complexity in international and regional affairs due to exponential technological growth. As the Human race gets closer to the singularity, the power of individuals will increase in like fashion over the traditional concept of the state and government.

Proposal 6:

Procurement of the Future

The government consistently makes public procurement decisions using methodologies and procedures that are contrary to the nature of services. Despite the fact that nearly 70 percent of federal contract spending has been on services (Schwartz, Ginsberg, & Sargent, 2015), the federal government still manages contracts from a goods-centered point of view. This divergent methodology has resulted in poor contract management and acquisition decisions. As a result the highest levels of leadership within the Department of Defense acquisition community have called for improvement in the “tradecraft of services contracting” (Kendall, 2015). Part of this improvement lies in the selection of services contractors while another considers the management of services firms once selected for government contract. My research intends to consider both areas utilizing a set of factors that can both measure service quality in terms of its intangible and diverse nature (Apte, Ferrer, Lewis, & Rendon, 2006). These measurements can then be used as indicators of relative service firm value for making award decisions, while also serving as a more direct influencer of post-award behavior from the firm itself (i.e. a motivating stimulus to perform as advertised/expected). The ability to “monetize” any level of subjective tradeoff in contract award decisions has be an area of primary import to the Defense Department (Kendall, 2015) and has manifested itself recently in the area of product (goods) source selections (DFARS, 2016, Appendix B), but has yet to be adequately developed for service offerings. I intend to work toward changing this approach. I am currently working to develop a scale to measure the perceived quality of knowledge-based services for use in source selections and a new past performance rating system.

Proposal 7:

Term Limits in Congress

Many aspects of the current system of government in the United States (US) are enviable and some are not. One area of particular disfunction is the longevity of US representatives and senators. The majority of these individuals are seemingly life-long professional politicians consumed with the primary objective of continuous re-election. Their demographic primarily corresponds with a monotonic upper class cross section consisting of wealthy individuals. The need for re-election creates strong bias toward financial supporters with skewed agendas. These supporters are extremely influential since they fuel the re-election objective.

The concept of term limitations has been considered, however, unless an absolute maximum number of years of service is stipulated, this concept would degenerate into the same re-election focus, only at a higher frequency and tend to maintain partisan/skewed politics.

It is alternatively proposed that the house and senate fill its seats every two and five years, respectively, using a system akin to the jury duty process. Interested citizens would “qualify” and be willing to serve for the 2- or 5- year commitment period. There would be a random selection of these individuals from each states “pool” of candidates. The benefits of this approach are numerous and strike at the heart of current disfunction:

• 100% of time focused on the job.
• Zero time focused on raising money and the next re-election race.
• Qualified individuals, i.e., “peer representatives”, truly in touch with the struggles of a broad cross section of the US.
• The service period is similar to the time scale of a military, or, secondary educational commitment.
• Minimized influence from political benefactors due to elimination of the re-election demand.
• Special interests would need to tell their story to the entire US to garner support, which is entirely feasible with today’s technology.

Proposal 8:

Trust in Government

All over the world there is an (increasing?) concern over the trust and confidence that individuals have with their politicians & political systems. That concern is, essentially, a concern over power and how it is being used. Is it being used responsibly? Is it being used in the wider, long-term, interests of society as a whole, rather than primarily on the short-term individual political interests of the politicians themselves. These concerns exist even in so-called democracies. In fact, it could be argued that these concerns are particularly prevalent within democracies partly because of higher expectations. Why are there these concerns? And what can be done about them?

These pressures generated similar underlying issues that significantly influenced the outcome of the recent US election, as well as the UK Brexit referendum vote. At its core there was a concern, often overlapping with considerable scepticism, over the role, effectiveness and efficiency of Governments at all levels, reverting to the core question: How do Governments add value to Society’? This question that is rarely, if at all, discussed, and certainly not within a non-partisan political environment. It is relevant, to any hierarchy of public sector decision-making. It is, however, difficult to find one simple answer. In practice, there are two fundamentally different – and potentially conflicting – activities that need to be reconciled will be explored in the 2,500 word version of this document.

Failure to give this fundamental issue much greater attention in all parts of the world, and at all levels of decision-making in government, we are unlikely to be able to make progress on the important challenges that we all face in the decades ahead.

Proposal 9:

Vision 2040: A Customizable Government

This essay is about a vision of government in 20 years. It is not, however, a vision in the sense of a fantasy, it is a vision in the sense of a necessity. It is also not a comprehensive treatise of government and governance. Its purpose is somewhat more modest. It seeks to construct the general contours of an adroit, accommodating and agile government that (finally) after multiple decades of failed attempts can reconcile pragmatic business efficiency with democracy. It is a vision of a “customizable government” – a government that is only as active and only as present as it is needed not more and not less; a government that is equally quick in intervention and in self-control; a government making decisions and delivering services by making the most of technology and artificial intelligence capabilities; finally, a government that adopts its design and operations to the social task at hand rather than attempting to reconfigure the nature of the problem to fit its structure.

Before crafting this vision, the essay addresses a question that is implicitly taken for granted here – whether government in its current conceptualization will still be needed in 2040. To discuss a vision of government in 2040 while speculating that government will remain unambiguously needed is perhaps irresponsible and certainly pretentious. If the latest national and global trends have warned us about anything, it is that impossible is nothing. The paradoxical nature of the response to this central question, which also constitutes the core argument of this essay, is that the answer to the latter is a function of the former. The design of the business of government will dictate the extent to which government in its current form will continue to be needed.

Proposal 10:

Meeting the Management Challenges of 2040: A Mobile Senior Executive Service

The level of political partisan fighting is impacting the management of government and will only worsen if bitter partisan battles continue. The bureaucracy is understaffed and so many political Senior Executive Service (SES) appointments are unfilled or staffed with “acting” personnel that public policy development and implementation, as well as federal agency management, lacks the necessary expertise and professional experience for success. According to the Washington Post, as of January 19, 2018, only 241 key positions have been confirmed by the Senate and 301 total confirmations, compared to 452 at this time under President Obama and 493 under President G.W. Bush. At the moment, there is currently a career-SES serving as the Acting Commissioner running the Social Security Administration. In 2040, more career-SES members will likely be required to run federal agencies across the government as political appointments languish in the nomination and confirmation process. The SES needs to adapt to meet this challenge. Congress created the SES to provide a government-wide, mobile corps of senior managers. SES members gain broader experience and leadership skills from mobility to apply across different agencies and positions. However, the goal of mobility has not been fully realized, as most SES members never leave their home agencies. Requiring mobility would bring fresh perspectives to agencies and provide SES members with a broader skill set to meet the government’s management challenges. It would also develop the broad experience necessary to handle the responsibilities and challenges of managing an agency. To avoid mass disruption to the SES management corps, my proposal calls for a new select corps of SES that are required to change agencies every two years. Those selected would receive compensation 15 percent above the regular SES pay level to compensate for the additional demands, burdens and challenges of changing jobs every two years.

Proposal 11:

2040: The Missing Cohort

In 2040 the student in my Master of Public Policy classes will be in mid-career. We know from their application essays, policy interests and conversations in class that they are passionate about “making the world a better place” and they see policy studies and careers in public policy as the means to pursue their passions.

Their choices of first jobs after graduation suggest they expect their lives’ work will take place outside of government. First job choices by policy school graduates are tending strongly away from government, particularly the Federal government. For instance, of last year’s graduates from the Ford School of Public Policy, only about a third chose government jobs and a mere seven percent went into the Federal government. At Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy fully 50 percent of the class of 2015 went to positions in the private sector. There are two likely results from this phenomenon: (1) there will be a missing cohort of top public policy graduates in senior career governmental ranks in 2040; and (2) the scope of institutions and organizations where the public’s work is done will include a broader distribution of non-governmental actors.

This paper proposes first to examine the data on first job choices from selected schools of public policy to detect major trends; and, second to expand on these themes through analysis of student statements about their public service motivations, policy interests and job choices. Inferences will be drawn for the reasons behind job choices and suggest recommendations for addressing this trend. Nevertheless, current data suggests unless something can change the perceived trends there will be a cohort of highly educated and motivated professionals missing from the halls of government though likely still working in the public sphere.

Proposal 12:

Expansion of Democracy

All visions for government in 2040 must begin with the foundation set forth by the United States Constitution. However, each branch of government will work more efficiently but shall not compromise citizens rights to privacy. By 2040 private and corporate donations to campaigns will be eliminated. Corporate funds to be eliminated first as they undermine the nation. This is primarily because corporations are not comprised of merely U.S. shareholders but also foreign shareholders who are not citizens of the US. Those campaigning for office should be allocated a fair and equal amount of tax dollars to run for office. Campaign commercials should be eliminated. In addition the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated. Legislation eliminating the Electoral College will be a thing of the past. The Electoral College was created because of the 3/5 rule (i.e. slaves were considered only 3/5 of a person). The Electoral College should technically have been eliminated with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. By 2040 given the advancement of technology, registration and voting should be by popular vote conducted on line with highly secure servers, that are monitored closely by a Commission of Electoral Fairness, comprised of specialists, citizens and government employees (who must pass a civil service test). Gerrymandering should be eliminated by using a mathematical model using population and several other factors to create fair districts that are not partisan. All of this will aid in the expansion of Democracy. The three branches of government shall continue to execute their duties per the Constitution, however, no bills or legislation shall be passed that have not been thoroughly read and discussed. Each Representative shall have a staff whose sole purpose is to consult experts about the intended and unintended consequences of spending decisions. Problem solving should be the focus and serving the citizens the purpose.

Proposal 13:

When government can know everything, when should it choose to be ignorant?

The biggest challenge and opportunity facing governments over the next two decades is when to put a limit on their knowledge when they are capable of knowing almost everything.

In the coming decades, three technologies are projected to get dramatically cheaper, better, and more widely available: Public sensors always gathering data, cloud servers to store this data, and artificial intelligence programs to analyze this data.

With potential access to cell phone data, city cameras, social media monitoring, medical records, etc., by 2040 a government could choose to know effectively everything about every one of its citizens -- possibly more than people know about themselves.

Beyond that, thanks to the social, economic, and health research that will be made possible by the combination of big data and AI, a government could know what is “best” for each citizen. For instance, a government could know that if a person lived closer to work, which would cause them to bike more, their chance of developing diabetes would be reduced by 18 percent. In another example, the government could know that if an individual spent more time with people on the weekends, their chance of depression would drop by 23 percent.

The great debate of the coming decade will be when the government should choose to be ignorant -- and when it should force private companies to also be ignorant. It is one thing for a government decide it will not use personal data to make people behave in certain ways, but if the government allows private companies to access the same data and influence behavior, the same issue would still exist.

Proposal 14:

Autonomous, Networked, and Precision Governance

Today, public agencies are experimenting with various artificial intelligence inspired computational mechanisms. These projects focus on augmenting the public workforce, automation of structured tasks, and even innovate around the delivery of public services. We are also seeing a greater effort by public agencies to leverage networked computational resources and platforms (e.g. cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT)). The ubiquity of mobile computing systems has also opened up significant opportunities for provision of information that is context-aware and real-time. In addition, mobile computing systems open up new avenues for environmental situational awareness. Given these trends, coupled with the fact that our public agencies have increased their maturity when it comes to technology management and collaborative governance protocols, our public agencies in 2040 will enjoy be transformed due to their autonomous and connectivity. Agencies able to:

• deliver greater public value through the deployment of systems are intelligent, connected, and seamlessly interoperable across heterogeneous environments

• realize greater levels of innovation when it comes to designing, testing, and scaling solutions on our most vexing social challenges through hybrid (human-machine) systems that can scale yet retain their ability to be precise to address peculiarities of local contexts

• rethink their organizational design, processes, and systems from their current reactive nature to one that can proactively sense, process, and respond to dynamic conditions in the environment in real-time

• build and sustain livable, resilient, sustainable, and just communities at any scale from local to state, regional and federal through embedding intelligent systems that remove existing barriers that stifle ambition, achievement, and security

Proposal 15:

Attacking the National Debt with AI

The national debt is one of the nation's foremost challenges; it poses a serious risk to the economy and the government's ability to fund its military and domestic programs. Unquestionably, the three largest areas of government spending are Medicare and Medicaid (about 28%), Social Security (about 24%) and defense (about 15%). If government embraces artificial intelligence (AI) approaches, which include a wide range of machine learning, natural language processing and predictive analytic techniques, it can substantially lower costs and improve the delivery of services in these critical areas.

In healthcare, AI methods can be utilized to individualize care. Providers can leverage both individual-level and aggregate data to make better decisions about what kind of testing, pain management and treatments are most appropriate for someone in light of his/her specific symptoms and medical history. A more individualized approach to healthcare, based on the use of AI methods, will substantially reduce financial costs in addition to lowering the emotional and health tolls that unnecessary testing and misdiagnoses take on a sick or injured person.

With respect to Social Security, a more individualized approach using AI methods can likewise lower waste that is quickly rendering the program unsustainable. Today, benefits are determined by the age at which you retire and income. A more tailored approach, using AI methods, could account for the myriad other factors that influence how much government assistance is needed and can be afforded by the federal government.

Thirdly, in the area of defense spending, AI methods have numerous applications that can lower costs while bolstering efficacy. For example, satellites are currently capturing millions of images daily to monitor security targets. AI methods can be used to extract relevant, actionable recommendations from this seemingly indigestible amount of image data. Other defense-related applications include speech recognition, procurement decisions and performance evaluation.

Proposal 16:

Open, Transparent and Shared Government

The year is 2040. The vision of a Shared Government has eventually materialized. Co-creation and Co-production of government services is in vogue. Citizens now have direct input in design and delivery of government services; while their elected representatives ensure efficient and effective service delivery through a specialized civil service, operating with a very lean and agile structure and regulated by tech- enabled monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

Complex decision making is aided by sophisticated Artificial Intelligence based Information Systems powered by real-time Big Data and analytics. The trio of: Government’s Expertise, Artificial Intelligence and Citizens Aspirations, assures optimal decision that harnesses a sense of togetherness and empowerment.

Government, by law, is bound to release all data related to its projects, programs, contracts, agreements, incomes, spending etc. Furthermore, common use of Blockchain-based applications has added an unprecedented level of transparency to government business.

This tech-enabled transparency has helped independent groups develop instruments like Government Performance Index (GPI) and Government Credibility Index (GCI); to which citizens now frequently refer while gauging the collective, as well as the individual, performance and integrity of the elected members of the executive branch of government.

More sophisticated indexes, further take into account, elected government as a whole, as well as, individual member’s campaign promises versus their actual accomplishments, during as well as at the end of their terms in office. Along with federal government and its representatives; these Indexes are also being maintained for State departments, local governments and corresponding elected representatives.

Today’s government is more open and transparent than the ideal form of an open government envisaged at its conception. The Government-citizen relationship has altogether altered. Citizens are in the Big Brother role now!

Proposal 17:

Government 2040: Coordinated, Connected, and Crosscutting

In 2040, relationships between the public and private sector will be reshaped to grow and accommodate advanced technologies that will aid in improved connectivity amongst systems, safer infrastructure, as well as responsiveness to the needs of citizens. These relationships will be reshaped by crosscutting sectoral initiatives that will enhance city, state, and federal level functions. We will see the rise of highly connected cities and coordinated national infrastructure that will work together and allow, for instance, autonomous vehicles to be driven on intelligent transportation systems that communicate with weather, law enforcement, and traffic systems that are all protected by a secure cyberinfrastructure operated using cognitive computing capabilities.

The approaches to the development and financing of smart or intelligent cities in years prior will provide new templates for public-private partnership. These templates will show diverse mechanisms for effectively implementing new models of governance, citizen engagement, partnership, regulation, and financing models. Forms of public-private partnerships will increase and will stretch across multiple sectors, if not all, to create streamlined, connected processes. Similarly, the various regulatory barriers that are designed for safety and to prevent collusion or unfair business tactics will be revised in order to create stronger, more secure networks that work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Finally, given the relationship change with the private sector, the financing of these efforts will be redeveloped with more attention to designing infrastructure ownership, compensation and/or reimbursement, and mega-scale financing practices.

Comments: I appreciated proposal 17 (Government 2040: Coordinated, Connected, and Crosscutting) the most because it provided great ideas for the future with lessons learned from today. Particularly, it takes a realistic approach to looking into the future and provides a best-case scenario for future government if government learns from present day challenges and opportunities. I would be very interested in seeing a complete essay regarding future government based on the author's abstract.

Proposal 18:

Fluency in Information Technology and Public Deliberation as Essential Skills

Significant increases in computing power and machine learning will lead to an increase in the usage of technology in the provision of public services. Public sector jobs that involve routine repetitive tasks will be phased out and automated as government agencies seek to save money and enhance efficiency. New jobs that rely upon creativity, relationship building, judgement, and knowledge of computing systems will emerge as citizens demand new services in response to discoveries in technology, medicine, economics, law, and the arts. City governments will take-up advances in computing to a greater degree than the federal government given that the political and financial risks of using such technologies are much greater at the federal level. Public sector managers at all levels will need a greater understanding of information technology to competently staff their agencies, acquire technology, and develop rules to protect the public from cybersecurity threats and technological failure.

Not only will public sector managers need to become more fluent regarding information technology but also more fluent regarding public deliberation. Rapid increases in computing power and machine learning will force society to think more deeply about the core functions of government, what makes us human, and the degree to which we trust government, our fellow citizens, and machines. High-profile technological failures will spark a demand for greater public deliberation regarding the use of technology by governmental agencies. Efforts at deliberation will be complicated by an increased feeling of busyness among citizens as technology further blurs the boundaries between work and home. Public mangers will need to be skilled at convening face-to-face deliberations with the public to discuss the relationship between technology, government, and citizenship and to resist the temptation to discuss such matters solely through technological mediums given that they generally do not engender the same amount of trust.

Proposal 19:

Government No Longer Thinks in the Present; It Lives in the Future

Fast-forward to 2040: The government faces a nation that is increasingly dynamic and evolving, driven by escalating socio-technological-economic changes. Networks - both digital and human - are hyper-social. Emerging technologies are breaking new molds to capture, translate, and secure data. Yet the disparity in wealthy versus poor draws deeper divides, and environmental flux aggravates our daily living and basic purchasing patterns (water, electricity).

This acceleration to extremes stressed government capacity and caused it to chase a growing number of mission-essential priorities. But rather than continue recklessly, the government regrouped, reassessed, and took a smarter approach to manage the complexity.

Now it draws from societal innovation which has been more effectively communicating, contracting, and managing services given its quicker adoption of new technology, processes, and "mature" work roles that creatively use AI, blockchain, and IoT to make faster predictions and decisions. It has adopted the gig economy concept which has shifted the size and pattern of work across agencies. It has identified where startups can fill voids in government services, getting the public what they need more efficiently and effectively.

Boldly, the government no longer thinks in the present; it lives in the future. It looks at unorthodox approaches to understand and solve societal challenges, and leverages or leads advancements in analytics to make sense of the broader, complex world that places requirements on its missions and resources. It operates from the idea that it is no longer defined by geographic borders, but by thought centers, and that it must reorient and reorganize its people, processes, and infrastructure to more closely mimic societal demographics and growth patterns. After several decades of being 'caught in the headlights' as society reached farther, thought bigger, and pushed boundless innovation, government is taking a razor-sharp focus on the future to bring thoughtful change and success.

Proposal 20:

Alternative scenarios for the future: Looking ahead to 2040

In recent years, government structure and operations have been in flux due to changing demands placed by technological advancements and transitions with demographic populations. Technological advancements have impacted every area of government operations from how information is provided and received to how performance is assessed to the hiring and firing of personnel. Such advancements have included geographic information systems, social media, drone surveillance, big data analytics, and, more recently, digital currencies. Likewise, demographic shifts have brought to light persistent issues of income inequality, the need to serve a multicultural and global population, and questions of how to engage millennials while also care for the aging.

The aforementioned have laid a foundation for the structure and operations of government in 2040 to be impacted in two key areas: 1) service provision and 2) personnel management. In regards to service provision, in 2040 people will no longer have to “come to government” but rather, government will directly come to them. This will entail virtual realities where government is not only adapting to and/or being a consumer of technological advancements, but rather, reproducing technological advancements to meet the needs of service recipients. Further, local governments will leverage technology to maintain a significant dependence on alternative funding sources in order to be loosed from state and/or federal control in the provision of equitable services to ensure the well-being of all “residents” and not just “citizens.” In regards to personnel management, technological advancements will lead to an even smaller public service personnel and more specialized positions; whereas, demographic shifts will necessitate managers being able to effectively manage personnel with demographic, intellectual, cultural, and experiential diversity. Technology will also provide opportunities for virtual management and immediate foreign language translation to better engage service recipients.

Proposal 21:

The Extinction of the Clock Watchers Delivering Municipal Services

Untenable federal debt and, according to some estimates, $150 trillion in unfunded liabilities have a profound trickle down effect on the fiscal health of the states. The states are forced to fend for themselves from a budgetary and resource allocation standpoint as the federal government is no longer in the position to aid the states financially. This impacts the dynamics of municipal governance and service delivery. Local municipalities are forced to consolidate on a regional basis. Individual municipalities exist nominally but they are no longer autonomous. Redundancies in human resources and service delivery positions are eliminated. Job rotation and personnel sharing become the norm as part of a nationwide municipal consolidation trend. Technology and automation is incorrectly viewed as a panacea for overcoming these local government dilemmas.

Proposal 22:

Federated Autonomous Zones

People all over the world are already experimenting with open, participatory ways for business organizations to operate. As people gain more autonomy, they are able to choose flexible roles and connect with others in more diverse ways. Small groups of people will self-organize around common purpose. These small groups will be more agile, and by engaging each other with greater intimacy, will tap into the highest levels of human performance. These groups will be able to solve complex problems in a globally-connected world. These emergent, open participatory organizations will function as “living centers” which will seed new types of governance, based on multi-dimensional domains of interest. Governance will be a preferred platform for a domain of interest. Think Facebook or Twitter, but designed to capture the innovation that comes from the many, to solve problems that we all face. Much like a good university campus can revitalize rural town life, the centers of learning, innovation, and production based on principles of open participation, will revitalize democratic participation. These emergent, “virtual centers of participation” will both attract incoming associations with other centers, and seek out synergistic affiliations with other vital centers, giving shape to larger and larger networks, spanning multiple domains of interest. Each participatory center, would retain its autonomy for as long as it maintained a core purpose that served the larger network. Together, the core purpose of every living center would define the “articles of federation” for what would be known as their “Federated Autonomous Zone” (FAZ) Inside each center, inside each domain, inside each FAZ, technologies such as blockchain and micro-currencies of exchange will help people enact a peer-to-peer participatory ecology at different scales of participation. At each level, a uniquely specified governance would co-evolve with the participants it exists to serve.

Proposal 23:

Emergence of Compassion in Government

Our constitution was conceived as a social contract whereby people ceded some rights to the government for protection of others. The country was 98% farmers. Voters were white, landowning men. Slavery was enshrined. Technological power was limited to the horse and peripherals. There were no taxes. Employment, medicine, the environment were administered locally and managed by small communities responsible for day-to-day life which was largely expected to be similar from birth to death. These are not today’s conditions.

We’ve experienced at least two major technological revolutions (industrial and digital). And we may be entering a third (artificial intelligence). We’ve experienced at least four major social revolutions (civil war, suffrage, immigration, civil rights). Government has expanded to keep up inexorably tearing the seams of the original contract.

Government 2040 must account for needs we have going forward including: our position not merely as a sovereign state, but as a member of a global community and people who will be inevitably left behind one way or another. It must account not only for the continuous defense of justice, but also for the continuous re-creation of a just society in the face of epiphenomenal changes. We must create a government that maximizes human potential while eliminating injustice – by intention or by happenstance – with modern technologies and sensibilities. In short, government must evolve with systems that enable us to take care of each other by default and not by exception. This essay examines compassion as a collective, emergent feature of governance and how we can get there using complex adaptive systems techniques. It is possible to design systems to distribute justice and equity with special consideration for those with less power, access, resources, etc., such that we increase the probability of emergent compassion to inspire long term, pro-social action.

Proposal 24:

Future Ready Public Sector

You have probably heard this before: five of the top six biggest companies on the Fortune500 are mammoth internet companies - Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. Before I go any further, let me point out that this is not another ode to the big five. But I would like to borrow from how these companies operate. Not to say that government should be run like this business, but what can government learn from how they synthesize data from different fronts of customer engagement into a cohesive strategy that informs product/service development and the creation new products/services that we all crave?

In the United States, the government has the largest operational structure. The public sector is a gigantic operation in action. However, the government still has huge systems that do not communicate with each other. In this era of technological advancement and complex challenges, that is nearly fatal. Thus, my idea for governance in 2040, revolves around the use of information technologies to optimize the delivery of public value.

A system of delivering public value optimized by data sharing and innovation would require a change in organizational culture. From attracting young talents to upgrading technological processes, implementing new policies for engagement, and encouraging innovation among others, governance in 2040 should wear a new skin.

In an era where big data and artificial intelligence Increases efficiency, my vision for governance in 2040 is one which promotes innovation and creativity that helps synthesize data from various government institutions for effective service delivery. A public service with the right strategy coupled with preparedness to engage the talents and intellect of all peoples to tackle the complex challenges of today’s society.

Proposal 25:

Government and the Pursuit of Happiness

"In the 50 years before I took office in 2021, most of our social problems had only gotten progressively worse," former President Oprah Winfrey reflected. "We shifted government's purpose from legislating and regulating solutions, to engaging society's leaders in preventing and detecting problems, setting goals, measuring progress, and driving change at the local level."

Within a week of her inauguration in 2021, following her historic landslide victory a few months earlier, President Winfrey called her Broken Promise summit assembling leaders from business, education, faith, social non-profits, and government in Washington. The data showed 1-in-4 Americans fail to achieve self-reliance and depend on government subsidies.

"The promise of happiness achieved through self-reliance is broken in childhood by sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, trauma, multi-generational poverty and multi-generational incarceration," explained Winfrey showing the correlation between trauma and government dependency.

Broken Promise inspired a revolution in government. "We began tearing down the bureaucracy regulations had built and reorganized launching new teams as we set new improvement targets," tells the former president. "My vision is that government's job is to inspire, enable and engage others - not just to enforce the law and pick up the broken pieces."

"Watching the news today after it was announced we had achieved our third of six major national goals, it struck me that we have truly changed the course of the nation," said the 86-year-old Winfrey who completed her second term a year ago. "We exceeded our target of reducing the number of our fellow citizens who needed government subsidies by 50 percent. It was beautiful to see the spontaneous celebrations popping up from Seattle to Miami - something we have not seen in our country since the end of World War II. There is no doubt we have rediscovered the soul of this great nation."

Proposal 26:

The Dissolution of Bureaucracy

In 2040 the federal government will look markedly different than it does today. Mandatory spending, including interest on the debt, will strangle discretionary funding, while public and Congressional resistance to tax increases will suffocate agency operations. Executive and legislative leadership will attrit empty federal billets while implementing flexible firing procedures that slash the size of the federal workforce. Federal contract obligations currently account for around 40 percent of total discretionary spending. This trend should continue in coming years and could result in third party contracts accounting for 70 to 80 percent of total discretionary funding by 2040, with intergovernmental transfers comprising most of the remainder.

In 2040 no federal activity will be considered “inherently governmental” with the exception of offices involved in national security. The private sector will assume key government duties including tax collection, airport security, social security distribution, and federal prisons, among other services. The remaining skeletal staff of civil servants will oversee third party activities, with their attention directed at discovering waste, fraud or abuse in third party expenditures. The federal government will transform into a central bank that distributes funding to third party organizations to execute governmental functions. In this new, market-based environment, the bureaucratic departmental hierarchy – the central organizing tenet of federal government – will be replaced by a patchwork of for-profit, nonprofit, and subnational institutions.

In the wake of bureaucratic dissolution and the rise of networked governance, Congress will establish new federal program coordinators to implement interagency and inter-sector programs. Deputy program coordinators will be assigned from state and non-governmental organizations, depending on the program’s needs, and performance will be measured by the initiative’s quantitative outputs and fiscal austerity. Congress will hold the program coordinator – not the department – accountable, and congressional committees will reshape themselves to support cross-agency programs.

Proposal 27:

Emergent Government

Our constitution was conceived as a social contract whereby people ceded some rights to the government for protection of others. The country was 98% farmers. Voters were white, landowning men. Slavery was enshrined. Technological power was limited to the horse and peripherals. There were no taxes. Employment, medicine, the environment were administered locally and managed by small communities responsible for day-to-day life which was largely expected to be similar from birth to death. These are not today’s conditions.

We’ve experienced at least two major technological revolutions (industrial and digital). And we may be entering a third (artificial intelligence). We’ve experienced at least four major social revolutions (civil war, suffrage, immigration, civil rights). Government has expanded to keep up inexorably tearing the seams of the original contract.

Government 2040 must account for needs we have going forward including: our position not merely as a sovereign state, but as a member of a global community and people who will be inevitably left behind one way or another. It must account not only for the continuous defense of justice, but also for the continuous re-creation of a just society in the face of epiphenomenal changes. We must create a government that maximizes human potential while eliminating injustice – by intention or by happenstance – with modern technologies and sensibilities. In short, government must evolve with systems that enable us to take care of each other by default and not by exception. This essay examines compassion as a collective, emergent feature of governance and how we can get there using complex adaptive systems techniques. It is possible to design systems to distribute justice and equity with special consideration for those with less power, access, resources, etc., such that we increase the probability of emergent compassion to inspire long term, pro-social action.

Proposal 28:


Context in 2040

A world shaped by Cyber-Reality (CR) a combination of digital reality (DR), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), is transforming social, economic, cultural and even political foundations of our civilization. Permanent transformation and Innovation in a world with:

− Hybrid forms of organizations and government based in “Our Reality” and CR

− Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs and Artificial Intelligent Entities (AIE’s) as ‘partners’ in all spheres of life activities

− Blockchain based agreements supervised by AIE’s

− New highly advanced ‘Internet of Everything’ combined with AI and Cyber-Reality the most powerful “Cyber-Entity”

− Growing role of increasingly self-sufficient cities

− Explosive amount of Big Data and increasing complexity

Government Scenarios

− Governance policies aligned with constitution and human rights and based on advanced Blockchain

− Control of congruency and compliance of government policies and their execution by ‘Compliance AEI’s’

− Shift from democratic towards technocratic and authoritarian forms supported by AI technology

Key Issues (Double edged - for or against us- depending on the purpose!)

− Transparency as main factor for trust in governments and reduction of corruption

− Adequate Leadership supported by AI

− Government as a Cyber-Reality platform

− Development of new taxes and new forms for income

− Fight for control of the big data and AI between governments and big tech

− Control of all people with new technologies

− AI based crime prevention

− Fast growing influence of machine-learning algorithms on important issues of society

− Dealing with virtual currencies

− Social cohesion weakening and communities falling apart

− New forms of education focused on individuals and based on competency, talent and personality development

− Artificial enhancement of human physical and mental abilities

− Security issues: Cyber-Crime, and Asymmetric Threats etc.

Proposal 29:

Radical Localism and Networks

The U.S. federal government is currently struggling to achieve basic policy goals. The fissures that have formed in its various branches over the past quarter century are deepening and will continue to do so if current challenges remain unaddressed. This being the case, the best description of government in 2040 will likely be, however unwieldy, "radical localism through networks."

For the fact is that, owing to the failure of national institutions to deal effectively with such policy issues as global warming, income inequality, immigration, education, and infrastructure, local governments have no choice but to fill the void. This move toward greater self-reliance on the local level can already be seen, for example, in the formation of coalitions among the nation's mayors that are working to control pollution. The trend is almost certain to continue, meaning that governance in 2040 will be even more diffused than it is today.

Thus, policy will be made through complex networks made up of actors who see the value in cooperation. In the face of continued gridlock at the national level, radical local networks will marshal a wide range of resources in order to confront the local manifestations of national problems.

In such a world, public administration will need to rely on technology to connect networks, to encourage managers to rely on persuading instead of ordering, and to increase citizens' participation in local decision-making. These efforts at the local level must not, however, replace or even diminish efforts on the part of experts, practitioners, philosophers, activists, and citizens to leverage the potential represented by the national government-however unlikely success may seem at the present.

Accordingly, I will in this essay consider the structure and function of the radically local networks that are likely to dominate governance in 2040.

Proposal 30:

Can a Democratically Accountable, Systems Science of Governance Come of Age?

The tools and technologies of systems science are providing opportunities to better understand how complex social, technological and ecological systems function and are governed. Fueled by the employment of artificial intelligence, deep and machine learning algorithms, big data analytics, and computer simulation models to address pressing public policy problems, the "situational awareness" of governments is increasing. But we must ask: At what cost?

Climate change, population growth, resource scarcities, income disparities, and political, social and ethnic conflicts serve as fundamental drivers and disrupters of our shared future. These are large scale disruptions and their effects are complex, nonlinear, and dynamic. Systems science tools are being employed to model, study and anticipate how these disruptions will impact systems of people, places and things.

Systems science tools are also, unto themselves, disrupters. Large volumes of data are being collected on the movements, communications, sentiments and buying habits of citizens. The employment of these tools and technologies is already being used to advance the interests of powerful and conflict-driven actors and may be employed to advance the interests of the few, or to optimize the benefits to the many.

Can systems science be employed to carry on the governance of the common good? The resiliency of societies will hinge on the extent which governments can remain democratically anchored institutions that serve as the central vehicles through which contested, but critical, public collective actions are coordinated.

The effectiveness of government operations in 2040 will likely depend on our abilities to successfully blend the tools of systems science with democratically anchored legal and ethical frameworks grounded in the principles of transparency and openness that enable self-organization and self-determination. New governance frameworks will be needed to litigate, mitigate, moderate and modulate the development and application of these systems science tools and technologies.

Proposal 31:

Averting the Social Apocalyse

For much of history the focus of government has been on making it less human and more machine-like. This was done to increase efficiency in delivering goods and services. By 2040 the emphasis must switch to making government more human and less machine. Soon a generation will be born who, through the internet, can live an entire life within their homes where they have access to food deliveries, education, work, entertainment and government functions. Few futurists have imagined a world more efficient and convenient yet so impersonal and inhuman. Most will continue to live in the outside world, spending time at work, with friends and in the outside community, yet as social withdrawal becomes easier, many may fall for its siren song. As research increasingly warns of the dangers of loneliness, social media addiction, and engagement with toxic online communities it becomes clear that the potential dangers to physical and mental well-being in this new digital age are high.

The government’s role in this? The best answer to the potential of social apocalypse is not by attempting to turn back time or restricting new technologies but by humanizing them. Government must take up the role as champion of community and focus on bringing isolated people out of their cocoons to re-engage in social activities. First addressing the culture within its own offices, government must find ways to make work social and invigorating, with focuses on communal problem solving and the power of relationships. Technology can ease many of the burdens of traditional government, but it will also create new problems that will demand government redirection. We need programs that increase face to face interaction, spur community involvement, and humanize the delivery of government services to restore not only faith in the power of government but also positive American identity.