Government for the Future

At any given moment in time, governments in the United States and around the globe carry out key missions in service of their citizens, learn from and engage with partners in other sectors, and act as cost-effective stewards of public resources. The countless positive daily actions of government leaders go largely unrecognized amidst a constant focus on the highly visible but far smaller set of challenges and problems faced by the public sector. However, stepping back to view progress over a span of decades reveals evidence of the sum total of this continuous evolution in government management—as well as providing perspective on the future of public service.

It is from this longer-term perspective about the performance and potential for government that the IBM Center for The Business of Government wrote Government for the Future: Reflection and Vision for Tomorrow’s Leaders. Since 1998, the IBM Center has published research from more than 400 outside contributors—largely from academia, as well as nonprofits and journalists. Collectively, these contributors created a body of knowledge about best practices and lessons learned for government improvement. In addition, the IBM Center has developed a record of public sector challenges and opportunities through more than 500 interviews with government leaders on its radio show, the “Business of Government Hour.” In Government for the Future, we draw from this rich repository of content to reflect on major drivers of public sector progress over the past two decades.

More importantly, reflection on this content provides a foundation to paint a vision of what government management may look like two decades hence. As described below, we have built on this foundation to bring together a set of viewpoints about the public sector in 2040, through a set of collaborative brainstorming sessions and a crowdsourcing of ideas about future scenarios. This vision of tomorrow’s government is framed through essays from experts that lay out a roadmap for how to maximize benefits and minimize risks, with potential innovations ranging from the workplace of the future to the advancement of space exploration.

The IBM Center has been privileged to contribute cutting-edge research that led to practical, actionable recommendations for government executives during the last twenty years, and to have collaborated with like-minded organizations to improve government performance. With Government for the Future, we look continue this collaboration among government, academia, nonprofits, and industry through the next twenty years.

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