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Digital Reform Survey


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Booz Allen’s work with FedScoop has resulted in a Government Reform Study. The study reveals that reform is necessary and welcomed by senior decision-makers in government and the private sector, but implementing reform is often met with challenges. The study highlights five key recommendations around ways senior decision-makers can navigate the complexities of reform.

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Digital Reform Survey

  1. 1. Underwritten by Produced by
  2. 2. 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Our Approach ....................................................... 4 Part I ..................................................................... 9 Part II ..................................................................15 Part III: ............................................................... 24 Conclusion ........................................................ 30 About FedScoop ............................................... 34
  3. 3. 3 THE QUESTION In today’s climate of reform, how do federal agencies succeed in implementing reform and how do they know when they are successful? THE SURVEY This survey explores attitudes and challenges related to government reform implementation and offers case studies and best practices from those who have experienced major reform efforts
  4. 4. 4 OUR APPROACH FedScoop surveyed more than 195decision makers in government and private sector. Government Industry
  5. 5. 5 OUR APPROACH Nearly 85% work in government and more than 15% work in industry: Civilian Defense Intelligence Not applicable 1% Secretary/SES or industry CEO/president Component head/industry CXO Program manager or industry senior management Non-management employee 14% 8% 33% 45%
  6. 6. 6 RECOMMENDATIONS DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL. When you’re faced with reform, or mandated change, you need to make a lot of decisions and some can have unintended consequences. The key to dealing with the complexity and uncertainty of mandated change is to understand the journey that many have walked before. Reform follows a common lifecycle – a lifecycle that, once understood, can drive your success. Take the time to understand the lifecycle and seize the opportunity of reform. INNOVATE AND ACCELERATE. Business accelerators have helped quickly launch successful start-ups, and government agencies are exploring how to use those principles to inject speed and innovation into reform implementation. Partner with experienced organizations to jump-start and accelerate your reform journey and achieve success by focusing on key ingredients, including strategy, resources, talent, and engagement.
  7. 7. 7 RECOMMENDATIONS EMBRACE CONSTRUCTIVE DISRUPTION. Make today’s social and technological disruptive trends work for you. Invest and build a digital ecosystem that takes advantage of the potential of today’s technology. Use predictive modeling and other analytics to test ideas that can save time and money. Move beyond traditional communications approaches and change behavior by creating engagement through social and digital technologies. CREATE AND TAP INTO A BROADER NETWORK OF RESOURCES. To keep pace with the increasing volume, variety, and velocity of reform, government agencies need to explore and champion alternate sourcing strategies for talent, solutions, and resources. Establish a broad network, including other government agencies, industry leaders, and academia, to advise and provide support (e.g., mentoring). Use your network to pursue alternate approaches, such as challenges and hack-a-thons to develop and procure talent and solutions. These alternate approaches harness the power of innovation to provide cost-effective solutions in a short amount of time.
  8. 8. 8 RECOMMENDATIONS CREATE A CHIEF REFORM OFFICER. Today’s reform expands beyond the purview of one agency and reform implementation isn’t getting any easier. Identify a leader, or perhaps a network of leaders, to ensure the right knowledge is focused on the right challenge, coordinate reform planning and implementation from a big picture perspective, and promote transparency across the public, business community, media, administration and Congress.
  9. 9. 9 BACKGROUND For the past few decades, the government has taken several steps to become leaner, more effective and less bureaucratic. Back in the early 1990s, the Clinton administration saw the genesis of an interagency task force aimed at reforming how the federal government works. That was hardly the first time the public sector saw such an ambitious revamp, as it was the 11th of its kind in the 20th century created for a reform purpose.
  10. 10. 10 BACKGROUND In more recent years, since President Barack Obama took office, the spotlight has been on major overhauls including education, information technology, intelligence, financial, immigration and health care. All those efforts have required -- and continue to require -- time commitments, stakeholder buy-in, clear, top-down communication and realistic expectations, with a sharp eye toward the final results.
  11. 11. 11 BACKGROUND Regardless of where and when a successful reform effort takes place, leaders today must be capable of leveraging the common lifecycle all successful reform efforts share. They must be keen to recognize the various triggers that often point to the need for reform, including technological, financial, political factors. And once the need for reform has been identified, leaders can embark upon detailed work of rethinking and retooling the enterprise.
  12. 12. 12 BACKGROUND Reform today is viewed by many as the new normal. It’s no longer defined by episodic change, but by the continuous evolution of technologies, policies, procedures and strategic thinking. Today’s reform leaders approach reform not as a one-time fix, but as a normal part of their organization’s day-to-day mission.
  13. 13. 13 SENTIMENTS ABOUT PAST AND CURRENT GOVERNMENT REFORM EFFORTS: “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.” (President John Adams) “Accomplishing major reform will not be easy, but streamlining our obsolete approach to federal IT is essential to providing a better value for the American taxpayer dollar.” (Rep. Darrell Issa on IT reform, September 2012)
  14. 14. 14 SENTIMENTS ABOUT PAST AND CURRENT GOVERNMENT REFORM EFFORTS: “Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.” (President Barack Obama, January 2014) “There remain no clear, easy answers to what intelligence reform looks like. All four directors have taken significantly different approaches to their role and responsibilities. It remains very much driven by the individuals involved.” (Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, December 2013)
  15. 15. 15 WORKFORCE PERCEPTION 95%of government respondents have experience with reform, yet more than ½ don’t know if those efforts were effective. The #1 source driving reform is organizational leadership – whether it is a change in vision from existing organizational leadership or new organizational leadership all together.
  16. 16. 16 WORKFORCE PERCEPTION 50% of government respondents said improved service to customers was the #1 sign of successful and effective reform. 54% of respondents found reform laws and regulations hard to understand. 56% of respondents expressed difficulty in planning for reform implementation.
  17. 17. 17 WORKFORCE PERCEPTION Although 3/4 of respondents believe that finding the money to implement reform is a challenge, the same number agree that reform is an opportunity to rethink the mission and rediscover the purpose of the organization.
  18. 18. 18 THE INGREDIENTS FOR SUCCESSFUL REFORM: 65% of government respondents say enhancing talent is critical to successful reform. 70% of government respondents agree the #1 skillset needed for successful reform is communication.
  19. 19. 19 TOP 5 SKILLS AGENCIES CURRENTLY NEED TO ENHANCE FOR SUCCESSFUL REFORM ADOPTION: Communication channels with employees affected by reform Strategic planning Talent planning, training and implementation Resource and implementation planning and overall program schedule Creating new processes and integrating mechanisms
  20. 20. 20 CRUCIAL VS. LESS IMPORTANT Respondents’ opinions differed on which skills were important to successfully implement reform: CRUCIAL: - Communication channels with employees affected by reform - Strategic planning - Resource and implementation planning and overall program schedule management
  21. 21. 21 CRUCIAL VS. LESS IMPORTANT LESS IMPORTANT: - Effective relations with the Hill - Effective relations with other government offices
  22. 22. 22 HOW ORGANIZATIONS GAUGE IF REFORM EFFORTS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL: “It’s time to fundamentally change the way that we do business in Washington. To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent.” (President Barack Obama)
  23. 23. 23 HOW ORGANIZATIONS GAUGE IF REFORM EFFORTS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL: Half of respondents said the implementation of a reform is effective when their agency improves service to customers Improved service to customers Visible change in culture Cost savings in the organization Increase available resources to other mission priorities Decrease external scrutiny/criticism Positive change in public sentiment toward the organization Increased productivity
  24. 24. 24 CASE STUDY: INNOVATION CAN DRIVE REFORM Injecting innovation into reform efforts is critical to success. Just ask the Energy Department. When the agency wanted to come up with new, revolutionary tools that would have an impact on the nation’s energy use, it held a technology development contest. In just 48 hours, the winning team developed an app that enabled citizens to track and monitor their home energy use.
  25. 25. 25 DOE’s innovative approach to solving an important energy challenge turned the traditional government approach on its head. What would have taken the government months to issue a statement of work, and even more time to conduct a competition and review proposals, took a small, innovative team of developers one weekend to deliver. CASE STUDY: INNOVATION CAN DRIVE REFORM
  26. 26. 26 Another example of how government is using innovation to overcome traditional contracting obstacles to reform is, which allows agencies to post problems that they are dealing with and award cash prizes to the most innovative solutions. CASE STUDY: INNOVATION CAN DRIVE REFORM
  27. 27. 27 HOW CAN AGENCIES SPEED UP REFORM PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION? Obtain outside subject matter expertise to provide insight to staff on area of reform interest and/or implementation. I would suggest working with outside organizations that can objectively analyze our processes and provide constructive feedback. There’s too much tunnel vision and denial in our agency. Commission a professional review of current practices and solicit professional recommendation for moving organization forward along the policies articulated by overarching enterprise leadership.
  28. 28. 28 HOW CAN AGENCIES SPEED UP REFORM PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION? Provide accountability at all levels. Senior management should be accountable to communicate the message and vision for agencies and expect consistency across the regions. Select and use contemporary methodologies and best practices to standardize and add discipline to processes. The vision and goals for reform have to be from the top down. If the top doesn’t support it, lower-level employees are not able to make change happen. There are currently no incentives or support for improvement/change in my organization.
  29. 29. 29 HOW CAN AGENCIES SPEED UP REFORM PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION? Take away resources from ineffective programs, keeping them on life support until they can be replaced or shut down altogether. Acquisition streamlining! Current process is wasteful and not agile. We need to conduct a realistic assessment of staffing resources, current skill sets, and potential training needs before attempting to implement any level of reform. In addition, reform efforts frequently result in added bureaucracy and burden on workers without any assessment of what processes can be eliminated or modified before we overlay another initiative. SESers should consult early with their GS-15 staff who often have highest direct knowledge of the processes to be reformed (and may also have industry best practices experience, too.)
  30. 30. 30 CONCLUSION This survey found that reform in government is both needed and expected. More than 93% of the respondents said they’re expecting their organiza- tions to embark upon one or more reforms in the next 1-2 years. RESPONDENTS
  31. 31. 31 CONCLUSION But the road to a successful implementation is often fraught with challenges. A lack of vision from leadership and poor implementation are pervasive, major obstacles to a desirable outcome. In many cases, communication, strategic planning skills, talent planning, training and implementation also need work.
  32. 32. 32 CONCLUSION Many organizations still treat it as an ad-hoc process. Leaders must connect organizations and agencies, build partnerships and inject innovation into their reform efforts if they want them to succeed. Organizations shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to finding new, innovative approaches to reform. Understanding the common lifecycle shared by all successful reform efforts can significantly increase the chance of success.
  33. 33. 33 A SUCCESSFUL REFORM SHOULD - Provide better services to customers - Improve the organization’s culture and increase morale - Lead to greater organizational efficiencies - Reduce negative outside perceptions But it depends on whether it is effectively managed.
  34. 34. 34 ABOUT FEDSCOOP FedScoop features up-to-the-minute breaking government tech news and is the government IT community’s platform for education and collaboration. FedScoop engages top leaders from the White House, federal agencies, academia and the tech industry both online and in person to discuss ways technology can improve government, and to exchange best practices and identify how to achieve common goals. Our websites include: FedScoop, FedScoopEvents, FedScoopRadio, FedScoopTV and FedMentors.