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This newsletter features our new report, "Fast Government: Accelerating Service Quality While Reducing Cost and Time" edited by Charles L. Prow. Fast Government challenges public-sector leaders to make time a key performance metric in government efficiency and effectiveness initiatives—time saved by streamlining operations, improving the quality of government services, and reducing barriers to citizen engagement. This report is a follow-on to a 2012 book edited by Mr. Prow, Governing to Win: Enhancing National Competitiveness Through New Policy and Operating Approaches, in which he introduced the concept of fast government as a key to increasing the mission value of government organizations. Read the report in its entirety or select one of the eleven topical essays. Be sure to follow the conversation on Twitter via #FastGov.
Author: Irving Wladawsky-Berger
Most everyone agrees that economies and societies around the world are going through historic structural changes, driven by a number of powerful forces including digital technologies and globalization. Over the past two decades, companies—especially large, global companies— have been going through major transformations to help them adapt to these structural changes. In particular, they have embraced digital technologies to improve their productivity while leveraging globalization to better manage their supply chains and reduce their costs. Over this same time period, government is viewed as lagging behind the private sector in improving its productivity and reducing its costs. This chapter highlights how government can become more efficient and how public services can be redesigned. Read this essay.
Author: Nitin Pradhan
As the pace of economic and technological change continues to accelerate, there is no question that government must transform to keep pace. Current governmental structures, however, are still rooted in a world that existed decades ago—a world in which the Internet, mobile computing, and “big data” could not be contemplated, much less leveraged to make the public sector more efficient and effective. A review of several key elements of this infrastructure points to several actions that leaders across the branches of government can take to facilitate and leverage the benefits of smarter innovation and investment. This chapter shows how such actions would help the government move at the speed of change. Read this essay.
Author: C. Morgan Kinghorn, Jr.
How do incoming leaders institutionalize getting things done quickly, while still ensuring accountability? The path from a political campaign promise to delivering a citizen service is a long journey. The environment that new leaders are entering is likely to be very different than anywhere else they have worked. That is why it is important to have a broad understanding of why it will be difficult, but not impossible, to get it done and get it done quickly. Read this essay.
Author: Mark A. Forman
Can government improve effectiveness and shrink costs by getting rid of paper-based approaches to serving citizens and regulating businesses? Virtually every service provided by government depends on information that comes from someone filling out a form: who qualifies for a social service, whether a business gets a license or registration, which company’s bid is selected to build a road, etc. The vast majority of these processes now use electronic versions of government forms. But the government processes, or workflows, are almost always the same as they were when government relied on paper, leaving much room to reduce costs, errors, and the time government takes to make decisions and serve citizens. This chapter provides a model to assess twenty-first century technologies that can significantly and measurably speed up government operations and speed the delivery of services. Read this essay.
Author: Franklin S. Reeder
The “right to be left alone” and to be “secure in our homes and our persons” are core values as old as the Republic. The introduction of ever-more capable information and communications technologies has raised new challenges as to how we can protect those values, while at the same time exploiting the benefits that technological innovation offers. Privacy and security are not inherently in conflict. Indeed, properly secured systems can substantially reduce the likelihood of unauthorized disclosures of personal information or data tampering. The key is to have an open debate about - and clear understanding of - the rules of engagement, so that citizens understand how government actions affect them. Read this essay.
Author: Robert Shea
Fostering innovation, speed, and performance in government is not the impossible task it seems. But it would be naïve to suggest that bureaucracies are always laboratories for innovation, speed, and performance. One must first look at the barriers to innovation, speed, and performance and balance them with the conditions to foster innovation, speed, and performance. Public service is about doing big, important things for the citizens of the United States. Read this essay.
Author: Nicole Lazzaro
The Obama Administration has challenged federal agencies to meaningfully engage the public to provide ideas, insights, and comments on new policies and existing services to make them more citizen-centric. The Administration’s Open Government Directive asserts: “Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions.” One new approach could be the increased use of game-inspired thinking in the design of public services. If crafted appropriately, applying the lessons from the thinking used in designing games could have the potential to transform how government communicates, provides information, and delivers public services. Read this essay.
Author: Tom Suder
Imagine a government that can respond to its citizens and its workers in entirely different ways, reducing cycle time and cost and increasing efficiency and service quality. The country is embracing mobile technology faster than it has adopted virtually any other technology innovation in history. As the general public has rapidly embraced these various forms of mobile technology during the past five years, federal agencies are now adapting the way they do business to take advantage of the opportunities new mobile technologies present for reducing the time and cost of government operations. Read this essay.
Authors: Robert Luby and Tom Glisson
The U.S. Federal Government's increasingly challenging political and fiscal environment provides a powerful catalyst for supply chain transformation. In the private sector, the 2008 financial crisis drove commercial enterprises to intensively reevaluate their supply chains and apply top talent to redesign and improve processes, develop new tools and solutions, and quickly implement change to deliver immediate results and become more efficient. The flurry of private security activity has produced a wealth of lessons learned and best practices, along with an impressive portfolio of new tools and technologies to accelerate and improve transformation. By applying these latest developments, the federal government has a unique opportunity to implement a world-class, smarter supply chain that can meet the challenges of today and capitalize on the opportunities of tomorrow. Read this essay.
Author: Earl Devaney
Predictive analytics involves extracting crucial information from multiple databases and then using it to help predict future trends, events, and behaviors. Often, sophisticated techniques like data mining and statistical modeling are used to enhance the ability to predict outcomes and to identify risks and opportunities. In turn, real-time decision-making becomes possible. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been using predictive analytics to fight terrorism and crime for years. More recently, the civilian side of government has begun to use predictive analytics to help identify improper payments, waste, and fraud. In particular, predictive analytics have helped to shift the paradigm from simply detecting these abnormalities to preventing them from happening. Read this essay.
Author: Elaine C. Kamarck
Two decades ago, the words “customer service” were rarely applied to the operations of government. Then in 1993, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12862, calling on the government to set “customer service standards” so that “the standard of quality shall be equal to the best in business.” Many of the standards produced dealt with the speed with which services would be delivered: how long customers would be on hold on the phone, how long a wait for services at the passport office, or a veterans hospital, or the post office. And these standards were benchmarked to comparable private sector services. Throughout the 1990s, the customer service revolution spread as innovators in the public sector learned from the private sector and from each other. Read this essay.