GX Conversations on Service Delivery: Expert Takes In The Times Of Crisis - Dan Chenok
How are governments delivering services in these times of crisis and what does the future look like? Listen from service pioneers, policy experts, government leaders, innovators and thinkers from across the globe.
In the last few days, our world has completely changed. In such times, it is imperative that we reach out to our experts and leaders and guides, and use their wisdom to educate and inform our people to enable them to make some sense of today and tomorrow in our areas of common interest. GX reached out to Dan Chenok and asked him about his opinion on two key questions that governments across the world are grappling with today.
Daniel Chenok is the Executive Director at IBM Center for The Business of Government in the US.
Here's what Dan has to say:
Question 1. What practices have you seen internationally through Covid-19 that will shape the future government service delivery model?
Not long ago, futurists were predicting that changing employee expectations, shifting labor dynamics, and new technology would reshape work and the workplace. But the reshaping was driven instead by the coronavirus. Still, the insights of futurists, such as Josh Bersin, are relevant to understand what organizational leaders will face in the weeks and months ahead. In a 2016 Forbes article, he identifies three transformational changes that we face:
- Personal — such as how our careers progress, how we stay current in our skills;
- Organizational — such as the roles of people vs. machines and how organizations are set up; and
- Societal — such as how we educate and prepare people for work and how we help them transition as jobs change.
These changes already happened years ago in some pockets of the government. For example, in a recent op-ed for the New York Times, former general Stanley McChrystal and Chris Fussell wrote: “Fifteen years ago, in the throes of our fight against Al Qaeda, the Joint Special Operations Command, where both of us served, needed to do this exact thing. We pivoted from being a centrally located, thousands-strong enterprise to a network of small teams spread around the world. . . . “Digital leadership” was not in the job description for our generation, but it became a critical skill for all of us to learn in the fast-moving and constantly changing fight.”
Similarly, the Patent and Trademark Office began its transition to telework more than two decades ago, as one of the pioneers in the intensive use of telework in the government. Subsequently, it has touted the benefits of this approach as: increased employee satisfaction, work-life balance, and cost savings from reduced needs for office space. However, more importantly during the current pandemic, its webpage says that operations are expected to "continue as normal." In fact, they are helping their clients – patent attorneys and inventors – by easing some of the requirements they face in teleworking, as well.
Separately, a telework advocate, Kate Lister, writes that expanding federal telework would save taxpayers an estimated $14 billion a year as a result of reduced real estate, absenteeism, and turnover, and increase productivity and continuity of operations.
The approach the IRS has taken is not atypical. Federal News Network chronicled its expanded use of telework during the COVID-19 crisis response effort. Commissioner Chuck Rettig told employees that they had the option of avoiding face-to-face contact with taxpayers. Empowering employees to choose gave them an unaccustomed freedom, and that freedom unnerved front-line supervisors.
The reality of working from home affects federal agencies differently. Law enforcement, regulatory, and national security agencies obviously are concerned about security and systems access issues. Benefits, healthcare, and statistical agencies are concerned about privacy issues as processes to make decisions about benefits, services, and information move massively online as well. One model for addressing these challenges comes from the U.S. intelligence community, which has managed to create ways for some of its employees to work from unclassified facilities (e.g., from home) by addressing technical and policy options.
This Is All Part of a Longer-Term Shift. Transformation consultant Khyati Nayak writes in Federal Computer Week: “The forced social experiment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is compelling the federal government to adapt culturally and technologically at a rapid pace. Federal workers have turned to government-approved technology such as Skype, WebEx, and Slack to meet, collaborate, and in many cases, just to commiserate . . . ” and she concludes that this crisis creates an opportunity to transform the federal workforce.
The private sector is stepping up to help governments become more efficient, resilient, and robust in delivering on their missions. The High-Performance Computing Consortium is where IBM is bringing together the US federal government, industry, and academic leaders to provide access to the world’s most powerful high-performance computing resources in support of COVID-19 research. We are helping cities and states provide mobility tools to support both government workers and students who have been sent to work from home.
In the past few weeks, we have collaborated with many of our government clients and driving action across three critical aspects of their response strategies.
- Cognitive analytics to understand what is happening right now, predict where the virus will spread, and match resources to demand
- Mobility tools and infrastructure to ease the intensifying strain on citizen services, coupled with a reduced workforce capacity resulting from work-from-home hurdles and restricted citizen movement
- Cognitive assistant and self-service tools so agencies can confidently provide services to help maintain physical and mental health, income and public safety.
- Recover and rebuild: Technology and process transformation have big roles to play in effectively making that happen. In support, IBM is offering expanded emergency operations, along with our social program management and healthcare capabilities.
- Optimize for the new normal: Agencies will start re-imagining everything. They will ask, what happened and why? How will we avoid this in the future? What did we learn about how we could work remotely? What processes and systems helped, and which became obstacles? Which parts of my agency or business need to be redesigned completely? How do I evaluate my adaptability and resiliency, so I am better prepared in the future for unforeseen events?
Helping government agencies address these questions—and then putting the answers into action with design thinking, agile development, cognitive process automation, and Digital Reinvention®—is at the core of what IBM brings to government. See our COVID-19 Action Guide.
From: The Business of Government blog from Post written by guest blogger, Adam Houck, IBM Global Postal Practice Leader, Academy of Technology Leadership Team.
COVID-19 has and will continue to have a devastating financial effect on the world’s posts. At the same time, posts have significant roles to play in the response and recovery effort. However, these efforts will not be enough to offset the financial impacts of COVID-19.
To respond to this global crisis, posts must do three things:
- Take a lead role in helping to accelerate the economic recovery after the COVID-19 situation stabilizes;
- Expand collaboration with ecosystem partners to build redundancy in their supply chains; and
- Offer the use of their vast, ubiquitous physical networks to play a larger role in response efforts.
Posts with more diversified revenue models are better positioned than their peers to respond to the pandemic. Here in the US, the US Postal Service (USPS) still relies heavily upon traditional letter products, especially marketing mail. On April 9, USPS announced that as a result of the COVID-19 shock, it expects a USD 13 billion drop in revenue in FY2020 and an additional USD 54.3 billion in losses over the next 10 years. This is largely the result of changes in letter mail volumes for both large and small businesses. History shows that in times of economic decline, these volumes all but disappear. Posts cannot plan on them returning.
In France, La Poste has already reduced the number of delivery days per week to three. Royal Mail in the UK has reduced service levels as a result of nearly 20 percent of its staff being off work, either due to sickness or self-isolating.
Posts have been affected by and responded to these kinds of economic shocks before. In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the USPS was designated as the deliverer of antibiotics as part of the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI). This program, managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), increased bioterrorism preparedness across the US. USPS also delivered disaster relief checks and distributed absentee ballots during the 2006 election. These serve as examples of how posts can aid governments at different levels in these most difficult times.
COVID-19 has revealed how increased globalization and shifting manufacturing out of country can amplify the detrimental effects to global supply chains. Posts need to consider a world of less globalized supply chains to build in redundancy for the future. They must test contingency plans and be ready to make quick decisions to move mail and packages in the face of mass flight cancellations of both commercial airlines and air cargo. They must plan to balance the trade-offs that include shifting volumes to slower transit modes, paying higher per kilogram rates, and reducing network visibility.
This increased redundancy can also be utilized to offer innovative services to help individuals and businesses in difficult times. For example, USPS could expand small businesses access to its Electronic Verification System (EVS) mechanism to facilitate drop-off zones to better reach customers who are sheltering in place.
Posts should also use their physical networks of assets (such as trucks, buildings, and indeed, employees) to contribute to the recovery effort in innovative ways. In short, they need to work with traditional and non-traditional partners to identify the highest and best uses for their assets. In the US, the USPS has more than 200,000 delivery trucks and 31,000 retail locations. Letter carriers and truck drivers drove 1.34 billion miles in 2019. Excess capacity should be offered to help move needed supplies and deliveries in local economies.
Regarding core postal services, current global quarantine measures are driving increased demand for package deliveries. Companies like Amazon are finding it difficult to support the surge. After quarantine ends and global production resumes, posts must be prepared for the potential “Bullwhip Effect,” as described by MIT Logistics and Supply Chain Expert Yossi Sheffi, where sudden spikes in demand for cargo could exceed supply, causing bottlenecks throughout the global supply chain. Posts must be prepared for shortages in available air cargo and passenger underbelly capacity when manufacturing restarts. They must be prepared to scale up operations and delivery capacity in an environment that may already have insufficient capacity.
Posts must also consider what they can offer in non-core services to assist in the recovery. Broadening the network of partners is a start. The goal should be to identify roles that aid in the development of “smart cities” during quarantine, during the restart, and long after the COVID-19 crisis. Posts and governments must collaborate on how to best use and repurpose publicly owned assets to improve the quality of social services and develop entrepreneurial solutions. It is possible the world’s posts discover that the innovative partnerships formed during the pandemic may turn into new revenue streams after the world settles on a “new normal.”
2. What do you think will the future look like for design and delivery of government services? What will be some of the key aspects that will take priority?
From: The Business of Government blog from the book,'Government for the Future: Reflections and Vision for Tomorrow's Leaders'
Engaged Government: Five Predictions for 2040
- Prediction One: A more agile government
- Government will experiment with small trials of multiple innovative solutions derived from a wide variety of sources. Government will alter its plans in response to evolving data and feedback. Nearly all problems addressed by government will benefit from a more agile approach. Innovation will become the norm.
- Prediction Two: An increased reliance on artificial and augmented intelligence (AI)
- AI will increase the volume and sources of data collected and decrease the amount of “drudge work” which currently requires lots of human attention, time, and energy. AI will generate two giant leaps forward for government. First, it will provide government with the information necessary to make informed decisions in ways never possible before. Second, it will free employees to focus on data quality and using data to make better decisions. The rise of AI will be a radical change for government. Executives will have more time to consider and evaluate the work to be done rather than spending all their time overseeing the day-to-day operations of government.
- Prediction Three: The ubiquitous need for collaborative skills
- With the extra time provided by artificial and augmented intelligence, government employees will be able to invest time in new ways to work with each other and to work with the public. Collaboration will be necessary, because problems will become more complex. This rise in complexity will derive from our ability to perceive new levels of intricacy in the problems we face. In 2040, it will be impossible for one person or organization to have all the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to understand or solve a particular problem
- Prediction Four: The rise of volunteerism
- By 2040, government employees will regularly produce public services side-by-side with volunteers. Community members will be frequent and active volunteer participants in the work of government. Volunteers will provide both labor and input in the form of ideas, feedback and opinions.
- Prediction Five: Increased citizen trust in government
- In 2040, trust will be perceived as a valuable resource. Trust is also the means by which government will obtain the ability to risk the mistakes that happen when solving problems. National and local problems are far more difficult to address without the public’s trust. Trust will enable governments to make long-term investments.
Networked Government: Managing Data, Knowledge and Services
By 2040, the federal government will disband its traditional agency structure and will establish networked teams to perform government work. These teams crowdsource the priority topics or challenges of the moment, then bring cross-disciplinary talent, research, and ideas to develop solutions that they tailor to each individual citizen. To help lead this effort, the government will recruit non-traditional and less-represented individuals—including newly patriated American citizens and younger Americans.
- Data Managers will oversee a virtual government workforce comprised of teams that aggregate data in digital workspaces and process it almost instantaneously via the eighth-generation wireless network.
- Knowledge Integration Managers will bridge knowledge, methods, data, and investigative communities. They will serve as catalysts and conveners, bringing together disciplines and experts from different domains to pursue research challenges.
- Customized Services Managers will use the data aggregated by Data Teams and analyzed by Knowledge Integration Teams to provide tailored resources and services to constituents at the community level, which includes everything from prescribing medicine to veterans to providing emergency kits to disaster victims.
Technologies like blockchain are built with enough modularity that they will withstand decryption, and distributed ledger technologies will be used in synchrony with quantum computing to secure data. This will enable processes that once took months to now take mere seconds. For example, blockchain and artificial intelligence will enable once-belabored and protracted processes such as the U.S. procurement system to instantaneously adjudicate decisions like eligibility requirements and other critical factors in the acquisition process.
Customized Service Teams will provide solutions tailored to the relevant community of interest. For example, new algorithms—benefiting from the growing volume and complexity of data afforded by machine learning and artificial intelligence—will aggregate information in a natural disaster to predict how much response capacity the government and private sector must provide. Teams will recommend ways in which precision medicine can improve prediction and treatment for disease, and how physicians can better tailor a patient’s medical treatment to their life expectancy. They will design solutions using 4D printing and create objects that reshape themselves and self-assemble over time. In many cases, the constituents will have a hand in directly creating the services they will receive, as people place higher value on products and services when they have a role in developing and shaping the product or service.
With these technologies, the government will also be better at collecting and disseminating performance data as it responds to natural disasters, ensures the provision of safe food and medicine, and manages the U.S. immigration system. As this data is shared transparently for the first time with the public, the gaps, incongruities, and redundancies, as well as strengths and successes, will rise to the forefront. As examples, by 2040, the resounding gap in cybersecurity jobs and the lagging innovation in digital identity will be resolved with world-class STEM education and digital research.
Citizen-Driven Government: Boundaryless Organizations
In 2040, the government will be led by citizens in a network of boundaryless organizations. Citizen leaders will shape and drive government management and operations in a co-creation process that involves public, private and social sector organizations. In this networked world, partners will work together to provide services to fellow citizens and have equal responsibility and accountability for service delivery; boundaries between institutions will be less critical, and institutions will be interdependent on each other.
Governments (at each level) will compete to recruit new citizens and residents, offering numerous incentives to attract and retain engaged citizen leaders. People will frequently travel and move residences between and among cities, states, and nations due to the nature of work and their personal choices. Going across borders is seamless—advanced biometric technologies, such as facial recognition, will automatically check people in and out at boundaries and borders.
Citizen services will be personalized, based on events and activities in a citizen’s life journey, and will span all levels of government (federal, state, local and international), making this personalization seamless and transparent to users. A network of teams, organized around citizen lifecycle events or transactions, will provide services.
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