Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government 2012-2013
The world is experiencing the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, resulting in the need to rethink government. Macroeconomic imbalances – sovereign debt crises, national budget deficits, shrinking global demand, weak productivity in developing countries, anaemic growth in developed countries, a slowdown in the BRICs, overheating in some major markets – in addition to growing pressures from unemployment, rising protectionism, new security challenges and environmental degradation, are only a few of the issues that governments are being called to act upon. Governments are under pressure to find solutions, transform themselves to live up to the expectations of the 21st century, “do more with less”, and create public goods for their constituents.
At the same time, the relationship between governments and their constituents is being further tested by the revolution in communications. Digital television, the Internet and social media reduce the ability of politicians to dominate the agenda, making calls for transparency and information-sharing harder to resist by governments and highlighting the responsibility for accountability.
The changing global environment, widely characterized by uncertainty and “multiproblemarity” and the continual scrutiny of government performance, has resulted in rising dissatisfaction from the public. Citizens question the suitability of government policies as the right remedy to solve complicated questions, and in many cases criticize governments as being behind the curve, “heavy”, reactive and unable (or unwilling) to reform.
Governments must now address how they are to remain relevant. To do so they must respond to rapidly changing conditions and citizens’ expectations. They also need to build capacity to operate effectively in complex, interdependent national and global networks across the public, private and non-profit spheres. This will necessitate building public-private collaboration at global, regional and national levels – through leadership, dialogue and partnership building.
- Singapore provides better schools and hospitals and safer streets than most Western countries – and all with a state that consumes only 19% of GDP.
- Spending on public services in Europe as a percentage of GDP changed very little during the first decade of the 2000s, decreasing from 6.6% of GDP in 2002 to 6.5% of GDP in 2010.1
- Out of 29 US government departments, 17 were rated as “meeting expectations” in the most recent version of the US Open Government Initiative. The remaining 12 were “making progress towards expectations”.
“Society is asking more of government than government is able to provide. We need more than a transition – we need transformation of governments from authoritarian to civil to highly effective. The information revolution has enormous power to unite – and to divide – societies.”
Lord Mandelson, Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom
“World politics is no longer the sole province of governments. Individuals and private organizations, ranging from Wikileaks to corporations to NGOs to terrorists to spontaneous societal movements, are all empowered to play direct roles. The spread of information means that power will be more widely distributed, and informal networks will undercut the monopoly of traditional bureaucracy. The speed of Internet time means all governments have less control of their agendas. Political leaders enjoy fewer degrees of freedom before they must respond to events, and then must communicate not only with other governments but with civil societies as well.”
Joe Nye, Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard Kennedy School, USA
Chatham House E-Leadership: Political Communication in a Digital World
17 October 2012
London, United Kingdom
London School of Economics and Royal Society of Arts, How to Govern Intelligently in the 21st Century
7-8 November 2012
London, United Kingdom
OECD Global Forum on Public Governance
21 November 2012
Who Perceives Government’s Role in Their Lives?
25 January 2012
Harvard Kennedy School Seminar, Boston, USA
The future of government will be shaped according to how successfully, efficiently and cost-effectively governments embark on problem-solving to produce public value and deliver transformational change. The Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government seeks to generate a “smart” toolbox for government decision-makers, drawing from lessons-learned and best practices around the world.
Different examples of organizations that rank government performance exist, but they tend to focus on just a few criteria. With this in mind, the Council intends to create a scorecard to measure government performance according to the FAST (Flat, Agile, Streamlined, Tech-Enabled) model developed by the Council in 2011 and described in The Future of Government: Lessons Learned from around the World report.
First introduced at the World Economic Forum Europe and Central Asia Summit in 2011, the FAST concept includes the following criteria. Flatter governments promote (a) citizen engagement, (b) administrative efficiency, (c) decision-making process, (d) intergovernment and cross-sector collaboration. An agile government organizes itself to marshal public and private resources quickly to address challenges. A streamlined government carefully plans workforce reductions coupled with significant organizational, technological and workforce advances. Finally, a tech-enabled government is successful in redesigning its policy, legal and regulatory frameworks and processes to align with the dynamics of a networked world.
Research Analyst: Stefan Hall, Research Analyst, Global Agenda Councils, email@example.com
Council Manager: Melita Leoussis, Senior Associate, Public and Government Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org
Forum Lead: Borge Brende, Managing Director, Government Relations and Constituents Engagement, email@example.com