More and more agencies share dollars across funding silos

Shared funding. More digital services. More fluid workforce models.

Shared funding. More digital services. More fluid workforce models. Those are among the federal government trends in this year’s study by Deloitte. To dive into the details, the Federal Drive with Tom Temin spoke with Bill Eggers, the director of Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights.

Interview transcript:

Tom Temin And let’s talk about that idea of shared funding. This really caught my eye, because funding is by structure, stove piped among federal agencies, because of the way the whole system is set up. But yet, one of the cross-cutting trends that you have identified is tackling funding silos. Tell us more.

Bill Eggers Absolutely. The major theme of the report is looking at walls coming down, dissolving of boundaries between levels of government, between the public, private sector and nonprofits, and all the ways governments are trying to really break down silos. And as your listeners know, the funding silos is really one of the biggest issues, in terms of why we have a lot of these silos. And so they can hinder progress in key initiatives. And what we’re seeing is that government leaders increasingly there recognizing these shared funding models are needed to incentivize collaboration between agencies. In the U.S. federal government we’re seeing that, of course, with the technology modernization fund. We’re seeing this all over the world in the movement towards life events based service delivery, where you’re focused on birth or death or losing a job or disability, and you need to bring together a lot of the different agencies to deliver that service for that individual. So increasingly, what we’re seeing is mechanisms around pooled funding. For instance, in Australia, in New South Wales, they now have a $2 billion digital restart fund, which is all about pooling that funding towards offering more of a whole of government sort of approach to service delivery.

Tom Temin And how do agencies go about doing that? Because they get their funding and they get their funding for their agency. What’s the mechanism by which they can pool resources effectively to be able to collaborate?

Bill Eggers What we’re seeing is a number of different models right now. So, of course, one of them is when you have it at the central level where they have different funds and governance structures or cross-agency, cross-governmental initiatives. The Technology Modernization Fund is an example. Singapore has a very ambitious, full of nation approach where they actively collaborate along those lines. Also have seen, certainly previously, a lead agency model where a lead agency receives the funding, then to bring together other sort of entities we are seeing also. So if you think about the Technology modernization fund, its invested over $500 billion in 33 projects across 18 federal agencies. And they’ve really been crosscutting, cross-agency approaches. So the funding piece and the governance elements are really, really important with that. We also are seeing this even at the state level. The state of California created a community economic resilience fund to promote regional resiliency. So setting up those funding structures correctly is really, really important. Where you have that pooled funding that goes across agencies and levels of government.

Tom Temin All right. And the other trend that caught my eye was fluid government workforce models. I’m presuming that’s the leftovers or the trend that’s left as the worldwide pandemic ebbed away, and now people are discovering new ways of working and so forth. Is that happening in the United States or is it mostly overseas also?

Bill Eggers Well, the fluid government workforce, it really goes beyond that. They’re embracing flexible talent models to mobilize skills in different areas, such as cybersecurity, AI, data science. There are a lot of agencies are beginning to look towards skill-based workforce approaches at the center, rather than traditional jobs. We’re even seeing a number of states. Pennsylvania, Indiana and Maryland, who have actually said that we’re no longer going to require college degrees for a whole host of different jobs. So having more flexibility focused on skills. We’re also seeing hybrid work, but also collaboration as a core workforce competency. So an example of the flexibility within the government workforce is the movement towards talent marketplaces, which we’ve seen at NASA, [Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)] and within the military, where people can go from project to project, enhance their skills and have mobility within government. Which is something that all of our surveys show is really important to Gen Z and millennials.

Tom Temin And in the U.S. Federal level, I guess, we’re seeing flexibilities applied to certain careers where there’s talent needed. That would be another example?

Bill Eggers Absolutely. We’re certainly seeing that in the cybersecurity area, in the data science area and other areas. It’s just a real big movement, whether it’s around career paths, performance management to more fluidity, more agility around how to use different employees where they can work, and really bringing people together and really trying to connect better people skills development and career progression. In Argentina, they have something called the Design Academy at the government lab, and they’re trying to develop a much more flexible data flow in public sector, where they’ve educated more than 15,000 public servants in just the first three years. Around some of those core skills, and they’ve even gamified this where you get points for attending a different lecture. So those are just some examples of knowing that people, as we live longer, as people move around more, they’re going to need to develop their skills on a regular basis. And how can government as employer help to both catalyze and encourage that?

Tom Temin We’re speaking with Bill Eggers, executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights. This idea of tailored public services and the authors of that particular segment were the United States, but also Canada and Singapore, which has been innovative in a lot of ways over the decades. Tailored Public Service. What does that mean? And does that get government away from treating the billionaire and the pauper alike who both go to Social

Bill Eggers Tailored Public Services is one of the biggest digital trends and customer experience trends we’re seeing in government. It’s really about enabling greater personalization by government, and really focused on moving away from a one size fits all approach towards one that really focuses on what are the individual needs of citizens and businesses. And the way we’ve looked at it, there’s kind of a spectrum. So you start off some services, one size fits all. It might be road repair, fire protection, but then you move towards customer segmentation where you’re doing demographic targeting. It could be elderly, low income people or veterans or geographic targeting by region. And then as you move up the personalization spectrum, you’re having more personalized proactive services, and that’s around things like life events, births, deaths, job losses or suggested services. If you qualify for X, you may also benefit from Y. And then we have at the highest level, most tailored, is what we call government for one. And that’s when we fully tailor, individually customized, designed around a constituents needs and personalized. And of course, omnichannel and increasingly generative AI is going to be involved in that. So we are seeing that again as a very, very big movement right now around digital government. And we’ve done a survey of citizens all over the world that’s going to be out in a few weeks. And that look like people are willing to provide more of their data in exchange for much more customized services. So we see this as a trend that is really accelerating dramatically.

Tom Temin And one more I wanted to ask you about was back Office Innovations improving mission performance. Again, a lot of back office work was done because of the pandemic. But I guess you’re going to tell me it goes beyond that, really. But you need that enabling base of technology for people to do anything else pretty much nowadays.

Bill Eggers I think the wall between the back office and the front office and that mindset really won’t survive, because I think we’re seeing much more of a blend. The agencies really should view back offices as mission enabling offices key to their organizational mission, and really focusing all the different ways in this could involve that your back office operations can actually help to achieve mission. And some of the technologies, of course, are AI and cloud that enable that. But we’re seeing a lot of really interesting examples from Canada, Transport Canada to Sweden to Portugal, where they’re using things such as digital twins and integrating data from various verticals in order to help them optimize bus routes and garbage routes and best times to collect data. And really, in looking at what are all the different ways these back office innovations using these new technologies can help to enable massive improvements in mission performance. That’s what that trend is all about and it’s a very, very promising thing. So I think as we look to the future, this sort of back office versus front office dichotomy is increasingly going to be blended.

Tom Temin This report is pretty optimistic. It seems like the sense as things are getting better, in terms of mission delivery and government as a place to work.

Bill Eggers Oh, absolutely. The government trends are really about each year, and this is our fourth year looking at what are the biggest innovations we’re seeing in government, management technology all over the world, Highlighting those in the hope that other governments can learn from them and adopt them. And I think a key piece of this year’s theme, is that a lot of these things are happening regardless of COVID. Certainly COVID accelerated some of the developments, but some of these developments have been happening for a number of years. But tackling funding silos is something that public management experts have talked about for many decades. And we’re finally starting to see some really innovative funding models for that and also governance models. So a lot of innovation all over the world and it’s an exciting time.

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