‘Fiscal sanity,’ ‘information overload’ keeping government administrators awake at night
To mark its upcoming 10th anniversary, the IBM Center for the Business of Government developed what it calls “Ten Challenges Facing Public Managers,” a report that discusses many of the public-sector headaches of 2008.
“The 10 issues were identified by the senior staff at the center, who each has had a long career in the U.S. federal government,” Executive Director Jonathan Breul told GovPro.com. Center staffers “looked back at the 10 years of research studies completed by the center” to come up with the list of challenges.
“Fiscal sanity” is identified as the first of the top 10 challenges. In this category, the IBM Center report paints a grim picture.
“The nation is at risk of drowning in debt—driven largely by federal commitments to support health care and retirement costs for baby boomers,” the IBM Center says in its report. “What’s worse, rising health care costs are pushing state and local budgets into crisis as well. America’s current social insurance programs are both costly and antiquated. It is time to take a fresh look at reforming these programs to reflect current economic and budgetary considerations.”
In the opinion of IBM Center staff members, “The next president must devise a solution to these issues.”
No. 2 on the list is “crisis of competence,” which discusses the government’s challenge to find qualified talent as baby boomers start to retire. The report notes the difficulties of finding enough certified air traffic controllers to fill the ranks. The IBM Center list also mentions the growing reliance on private contractors to perform key public functions.
Also on the IBM list is the issue of “information overload,” in which ever-growing government data sources could lead to government officials missing important information. According to the IBM report, technology could help solve the problem.
“Breakthroughs in data capture, data standards and data storage have created opportunities for large-scale analysis,” the report says. “These new systems can extract the knowledge needed to create strategy-based solutions.”
Another concern for government administrators is “green leadership” on issues such as preserving the environment and energy conservation. According to the report, “Technology and markets will play a crucial role, but government actions will be just as critical.”
What’s the solution for this problem?
“Solving our environmental problems requires a blend of public policies and incentives that encourage technology and management innovations across the globe,” the report asserts.
For a complete list of the IBM Center’s “Ten Challenges Facing Public Managers,” click here.