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What’s Ahead for 2014 – More shutdowns, sequestration and shenanigans?

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: John Palguta, VP for Policy at the Partnership for Public Service – Part Two, (Part One)

What is ahead for 2014?

“I am predicting that we will not have another government shutdown. I liken it to the seven year cicadas. They just roll around at approximately that interval. The last time we had the major shutdown in 1995 there were some lessons learned about how this was really a stupid idea. It took 17 years for those lessons to be forgotten. I think we have been reminded during those 16 days of shutdown. Although there may be bluster and bluffing up to the last minute I don’t think we will have another shutdown,” said Palguta.

What about sequestration?

“The real question is will sequestration be continued unabated. Agencies have picked all the low hanging fruit in terms of saving money. I think continuing under the projected sequester amounts would really be not a good idea. I am going to go out on a limb and predict that there will be at least some modification to sequestration. I am not sure that Congress is going to be willing to totally give that up but there may be a willingness to cut back the levels of budget reduction and or to give agencies more flexibility in how they achieve the reductions. That is the shorter terms. It is still gloomy for agencies. There is more pain possible,” said Palguta.

Agencies on the brink of bankruptcy?

“But the other thing, and this is more speculative, but what we have learned over time is if we do bring a federal agency to the brink of not being able to work, we break something, people do notice. The shutdown was kind of a form of that. But I think the American public does want government to work. So, I think if we can going forward, if we can highlight not only what is working, but focus on what we want government to do. It is ok if we decide as a country that there are some things we want government to stop doing. That’s great. That is part of the political dialogue. But once we have consensus, we have to take a hard look to see what it takes to get it done,” said Palguta.

Is the public perception of government changing?

“I think a very positive view, that a lot of people didn’t focus on that much, is that public attitudes towards individual groups of federal employees are actually much higher than people would have expected given all of this. And given the public’s attitude towards Congress which is at an all time low. So I think people are starting to distinguish between the politicians and between the career workers. They are understanding that the career workers are actually doing some unbelievable things. If we can build upon that notion we can have a better future going forward than we might otherwise have had,” said Palguta.

What is the key for 2014?

“We need to take more advantage of collaboration across government agencies. More focus on data analytics. I think if we can institutionalize some of that it will put us in good standing. I am not giving up on government. I am still an optimist here. Although some people would call it optimism in the face of reality, but I am optimistic that we can actually see things improve. I think 2014 is just going to be a tough year. Let’s also not forget that in 2014 we had the mid-year elections. We need to watch the mid-terms closely to see what message is being sent by the electorate. Congress will ultimately listen to the voters. You just have to hope that the voters are paying attention to what is going on in government,” said Palguta.

Year In Review Interview:

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