Thursday, March 3, 2016
Effective and innovative approaches for managing people, processes, and technologies can support agencies to deliver critical missions effectively, bolstering the government’s ability to serve the citizen and protect the Nation.

Enabling the public sector to deliver on mission priorities remains a major research theme of the IBM Center for The Business of Government.   Making this vital connection between outcomes that agencies strive for on behalf of the citizens they serve, and the good management needed to achieve those outcomes, is a critical link for effective government. 

As we collaborate with government stakeholders in meeting this objective, a number of specific mission areas have great importance for the Nation and call for further work to identify pathways for strengthening performance.   Each of these mission areas shares a number of distinguishing elements, including: 

  • They have broad impact – citizens, businesses, other governments, and in some cases even international partners.
  • They are implemented through networks of agencies working together – none are the province of a single organization, and thus all rely on a strong collaborative approach.
  • Partners from outside government can be a source of innovation and creative solutions to help government succeed.
  • Achieving positive outcomes depends on bringing together people, process, and technology in a strategic management framework that enables the mission.

Developing approaches that help agencies find new pathways to achieve key mission outcomes will be a high priority for the IBM Center over the next several years.  We will seek to do so in new ways to engage government through joint exploration of innovative ideas, interaction around potential solutions, and foster rapid action and iterative learning.  Especially as a new Administration takes office in January 2017, we will work with colleagues across government, academia, industry, the non-profit community, and IBM to co-create thought leadership and actionable recommendations that help government serve the Nation efficiently and effectively.   Moreover, we welcome ideas from government stakeholders about specific issues to address, that can help frame the art of the possible.

These activities focus on four areas that share the distinguishing elements described above, and address two of the most important roles for government -- to serve the citizen, and to protect the Nation.   Specifically, this focus includes the following mission areas:

  • Engaging Citizens to Meet Evolving Needs.  In the last several years, innovative ways to provide services have enabled a revolution in engagement in the private sector.  Self-service, new approaches to raise customer satisfaction, analytics, and cognitive computing platforms have all combined to improve user experience across many parts the economy and society. Government is starting to do the same via increased use of design thinking and similar techniques, in order to successfully deliver services within an agile enterprise.  These approaches can be harnessed to streamline benefits for citizens in need, enhance the experience of those working with government to match that which they have grown to expect when interacting with the best companies  in the private sector, and involve the public in framing public policy through crowdsourcing, sentiment analysis, and similar innovations. Working with citizens, and with advocacy organizations that represent citizen interests, can allow agencies to take advantage of these new approaches and digital interactions with Government as a key engagement point.  Read blog posts about this topic:   Driving Citizen-Centric Engagement and What Citizen Engagement Looks Like in the Digital Age.
  • Transforming Operations to Improve Programs. Government has moved forward with initiatives that leverage modern operating practices in the private sector to improve productivity, including shared services, IT modernization, data management, and program integrity to reduce fraud and waste.  Less clear has been the connection between these best practices and how they help to bring measurable improvements at the program level, especially social programs that deliver critical health, education, workplace, and other benefits.   Evolving process and technology platforms that leverage cloud, agile, and cognitive computing can help agencies to improve operations, increase visibility into both current assets and costs, and support compliance with legal and policy requirements.  Moreover,  modernizing these platforms can enable agencies to understand citizen satisfaction and design better services that make a real difference in the lives of people who interact with government. Read a blog post about this topic:  Government Transformation to Improve Program Outcomes
  • Predicting and Preventing Human Threats.  There is perhaps no more urgent mission for government than public safety and national security.  Global threats require collaborative approaches to leverage organizational and technical innovation across the national security, homeland security, and law enforcement communities, and involve all levels of government working with civic and community leaders and advocacy organizations.  Approaches like image recognition and social media analysis can be managed as part of a larger strategic framework to help identify early warning signs of radicalization threats, better target potentially dangerous people and cargo while bettering the speed and experience for the vast majority of travelers, improve management of emergencies and related incidents, and even support enhanced performance in correctional institutions to foster outcomes like reduced recidivism.  
  • Enhancing Cybersecurity.  The government, like the private sector, must detect and respond to threats in cyberspace at an increasing rate, from a growing and complex landscape of malicious actors, and in a way that enables and does not impede the technologies that serve citizens, businesses, State and local governments, and other partners.   These threats range from insiders, to commercial hackers, to organized crime, to foreign actors.  Today's CIOs and CISOs have a dual challenge of achieving effective security protection while meeting compliance requirements, all within shrinking budgets.  In order to evolve from reactive protection into proactive and predictive security, agencies require capabilities that analyze, predict, and defend against problems in real time; provide protection for large IT systems as well as handheld and other “edge” devices; understand how personnel risks from employees or contractors can manifest into broad cyber risk, and how to identify and respond to minimize those risks; and leverage new approaches like biometrics to enable efficient access for legitimate users while impeding access for those who would bring harm.  And all of these responses depend critically on providing for privacy of information held by government on behalf of its citizens.

Each of these four areas will benefit from reports, discussion, rapid development of ideas, and co-creation of solution approaches to help government manage more effectively and achieve positive outcomes.  The Center looks forward to developing thought leadership and creative approaches to support agencies in addressing these critical mission imperatives.  By so doing, we hope to enable government leaders and managers with innovation to serve the citizen and protect the Nation.


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