The end of the year means two things: setting unrealistic New Year’s resolutions and endless retrospectives. While we can’t force you to put down the cake and pick up a carrot, we can help you do your job better by highlighting some of the biggest and best innovations to come out of government in the last 365 days. Throughout December the DorobekINSIDER will sit down with government experts to talk about the hurdles, wins and challenges in 2013. (You can find all the interviews here.)
End Of Year Innovator: Darrell West, Vice President of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute.
“It is hard to be bullish on government given all the problems the public sector has faced this year, with the shutdown and all the challenges in healthcare. It has certainly been a difficult time. But I think this year also demonstrated how important public sector employees are and how when the government was shutdown people suddenly didn’t have all the services they were used to getting and they were unhappy,” said West.
Lots of roadblocks in Washington politics, anything changing in 2014?
“It is going to continue to be a challenge in the Legislative process, but what we are seeing is the Obama Administration has increasingly been turning to the Executive Branch to implement various policy actions. We’ve seen that in the immigration area. When the President can’t get Congress to act he is pushing the boundaries on his executive authority and basically trying to address some of these issues through executive action,” said West.
State and Local government’s innovate. West said:
- While the federal government has stagnated on some of these issues, state and local governments are innovating. They are experimenting with different models, they are very focused on economic development. They want to build trade with other countries and also developing their manufacturing capacities.
- Cities are making progress because they rely not just on government, but they are building bridges with businesses and having public-private partnerships. They are also working with universities and universities have become the engine for economic growth. There are also non-profits that are taking on quasi-government type of missions. There are interesting new models that are taking place at the local level.
Social Media in our hands?
“The mobile revolution is happening at a much faster pace than I would have realized a few years ago. I was in Barcelona last year at the World Mobile Congress and they were saying by 2016, 80% of the broadband subscriptions will be through mobile devices,” said West. “We are seeing lots of interest in mobile. Lots of interest in social media. We are seeing new forms of wearable devices. We’ve seen the Google glass that is starting to come out. Watches that have been developed by Samsung and other places. Fitness devices that people are wearing to keep track of their calories and exercise levels,” said West.
Disasters and mobile, what’s the connection?
“The trend that is underlying all of these things is the need for real-time information. Certainly when there is a disaster and people are suffering, we need to take action right away. Social media and mobile devices have become some of the ways in which you can really expedite decision making and really get the help to the people that need it. That’s something that is very promising as we look towards the future,” said West.
What’s on the horizon for 2014?
- “Congress has set some budget deadlines that are going to be very difficult to meet. Certainly the continuing challenges of Obamacare will dominate the headlines. The administration had hopes of signing up 7 million people who currently don’t have health insurance, but with the problems on the website that is going to be difficult to make,” said West.
- “Big data is going to be one of the big themes of 2014. We have created data sharing networks, education, healthcare, transportation, trade and other areas. Those networks create the possibility of using the flood of information to improve decision making. New York City for example has pioneered some interesting models in the security area about how they are they are fighting terrorism,” said West.
“There are tremendous opportunities for leadership too. In fact, I think people want leaders who are willing to break the mold and try new approaches. Certainly in the technology area there are big challenges but there are similar opportunities. People from around the globe still look to America for innovation,” said West.
Year In Review Interview: