NIC and MeriTalk recently partnered to conduct a survey, Innovators Anonymous. In December of 2012, MeriTalk surveyed 200 Federal managers to understand the impact of budget cuts on agency programs. MeriTalk explored how Federal managers were responding to challenges and what kinds of innovative approaches managers were taking to combat budget cuts.
Not surprisingly, the survey highlighted the dire fiscal environment of the federal government, and the challenges faced by federal managers to meet mission needs and objectives. One statistic that stood out was that survey respondents reported an average budget cut of 16% within their agencies. Further, when respondents were asked, “have you personally experienced the impact of Federal budget tightening?” 62% responded, “yes, in my programs,” 51% responded, “yes, in programs I depend on.” Additionally, 12% of survey respondents stated that the budget cuts put the mission at risk, and only 4% of respondents reported no mission impact.
Clearly, the budget reductions are impacting government’s ability to support mission critical programs, and agencies have been forced to take steps to meet their objectives. The survey highlights some of the steps taken by federal managers to address dwindling budgets. Respondents stated the following:
- Stopped hiring- 55%
- Cut or reduced services – 51%
- Reduced Federal employees – 51%
- Cut or eliminated capital investments – 29%
- Increased transaction process time – 25%
Although these statistics are grim, there is room for much optimism in the federal sector for change and innovation to take place. MeriTalk asked a series of questions comparing how innovators approach the current budget. You can view the full data by going here, below are three of the findings, as reported by MeriTalk:
- Innovators want change, believing that their agencies need to do a lot of things differently from today
- In fact, innovators spend a lot of time driving their agency to do things differently
- Innovators look for examples outside of government and are less beholden to their federal peers
Another interesting section of the report identifies solutions or changes that agencies have considered in response to budget cuts. MeriTalk identifies that 34% of federal Innovators are already looking at alternative funding approaches to support programs. Additionally, federal Innovators believe that as much as one quarter of each of their agency’s budget could be addressed by new funding/service methods. Finally, 42% of Federal innovators see self-funding as a viable approach. The chart below highlights these findings:
The report had a lot of interesting data, and I encourage you to check out the entire report, MeriTalk concludes with 4 findings for government innovators:
- Understand, and then embrace the budget realities
- Look beyond just cuts for answers to budget issues
- Investigate innovative funding models
- Collaborate on innovative ways to fund programs and deliver services
With the state of the federal budget, and with relief not on the horizon for federal agencies, it is imperative that government now continues to adopt innovative practices to re-imagine how government operates. To create a truly modern, agile, and lean government, agencies will have to focus on innovation and new delivery mechanisms for government services.
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NIC is the nation’s leading provider of eGovernment online services. We build, manage, and market official government online services on behalf of 3,500 federal, state, and local agencies in the United States. Our solutions use technology to simplify time-consuming processes, increase efficiencies and reduce costs for both governments and the citizens and businesses they serve. www.nicfederal.com. Be sure to visit them right here on GovLoop in the “EGOV Innovation Station” Group.