Feds of the Future

There’s something altogether audacious about presuming to predict the future when it comes to federal  agencies, especially considering the rapid pace of technological change and the inherent uncertainties of the American political system.

But that’s what we’ve set out to do in this issue—to peer into the not-too-distant future when it comes to how agencies will function and the types of people who will run federal operations.

What we found was a world of openness, in which government has moved beyond the hierarchies and divisions between agencies that have become a hindrance to innovation. In a report that leads our package of stories on the agency of the future, Joe Marks finds that this hypothetical agency will operate in a world in which silos have been broken down, information flows more freely and the imperative is service to citizens.

In the second story in our cover package, Charlie Clark looks at the people who will be running the agencies of tomorrow. (Many of them are now going through the trials and tribulations of sixth grade.) One need not fall back on generational stereotypes to understand that these young people are growing up in a very different world than their parents and grandparents, and will take a different approach as they gradually move into leadership roles in federal operations. Theirs is a workplace in which diversity is a given, technological experimentation is not something to be feared, and tolerance for failure to achieve results—regardless of obstacles—is limited.

Finally, in a special graphics spread, we take an inside look at the workplace of the future. Increasingly, the federal office will be less about bricks, mortar and the importance of having an exclusive workspace with a window, and more about mobility, collaboration and cost savings from limiting the federal building footprint. 

In other words, the government of tomorrow is less about status, hierarchy and rules, and more about getting the job done.

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