Millennium Musing

tclark@govexec.com

Timothy B. Clark

In this special issue, we look at changes our readers can anticipate in the new millennium. Nine authors peer into the future of government in the pages that follow, and while their views are diverse, it might be useful to attempt a synthesis.

The logical place to start is actually at the end of the issue. In our closing piece, Jonathan Rauch of National Journal and the Brookings Institution writes that we are at the end of government, in the sense that government is now fully formed and impervious to large-scale change. He makes a persuasive case, for Washington seems neither able to shed any of the duties it has assumed, nor willing to take on many more. I have argued that we live in a "post-policy" world, where the challenge is not so much to devise new programs as to find better ways to administer the old, and Rauch's thesis is in this mold.

The thesis deals principally with government's place in our domestic economy and society. America's role in the world beyond our borders, and the shape and potential uses of our military forces, are certainly matters for policy resolution, as Lawrence J. Korb of the Council on Foreign Relations argues in this issue. Procurement strategies and military doctrine will surely be affected as we debate the relative merits of the Clinton Doctrine of episodic intervention abroad and the Powell Doctrine of engagement only when American interests are truly at stake.

In the short term, on both the military and domestic sides of our government, operating budgets remain ex-
tremely tight, and their leaders and overseers will be insisting on greater efficiency and better performance. Making convincing cases for return on investment, will be at the heart of managers' jobs in the future, writes Government Executive associate editor Anne Laurent.

Bureaucracies are slow to change, of course, but two of the keenest academic observers of our government are optimistic about prospects for change. Steven Kelman of Harvard and Donald F. Kettl of the University of Wisconsin share the view that leadership from the top of agencies can produce real gains throughout organizations. Kelman writes with the benefit of his experience as President Clinton's top procurement policy adviser, while Kettl has researched and written extensively on federal reinvention initiatives during the Clinton-Gore years.

Looking further down the road, how should public-sector leaders adjust their own behavior and that of the institutions they guide? Our columnist Paul Light of the Brookings Institution says we should declare a "human capital crisis" and institute top-to-bottom changes in the government's approach to hiring people. Former federal union leader Robert M. Tobias sees the times as propitious for long-overdue civil service reform. David Osborne, whose 1992 book, Reinventing Government, influenced Vice President Al Gore and many other reformers, says we can see the future of reform in the United States by looking at the experience of smaller nations overseas, including England and New Zealand. And last but not least, former Reagan White House staffer James Pinkerton foresees no shortage of work for "bureaupreneurs" clever enough to pick the right occupations in the future.

This issue doesn't pretend to provide all the answers about government's future. But we hope you'll be intrigued by the questions these experts raise and the predictions they make.

Tim sig2 5/3/96
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.