Improve government function, one proposal at a time

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Solving the government’s most pressing management challenges is never easy, but IBM thinks it can help.

IBM’s Center for the Business of Government’s latest Call for Research Proposals highlights six priority areas the center thinks drive government transformation. Those working in academia, journalism or the nonprofit world who are interested in facilitating better government are urged to submit proposals that help managers and federal executives in the following areas:

Developing cost-saving strategies that improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Fiscal austerity has the potential to negatively affect government function, but it also creates opportunity and incentive for radical transformation in standard operating procedures. Federal managers can exploit technological advancements and adapt traditional approaches to mission requirements to cope with budget cuts while working more efficiently and effectively.

Fostering innovation and transformation.

Innovation means more than new ideas or old ideas applied in a novel way; it is a process and requires an organizational culture of innovation as well. Similarly, transformation requires organization flexibility. Innovation models that lead to government transformation are needed, as it is yet unclear which models truly accomplish each agency’s mission.

Aligning mission support with mission delivery.

There has been devolution over the past 25 years between mission support and mission delivery. Mission-support functions such as human resources, acquisition, information technology and financial management have become professionalized and, in many cases, centralized. Aligning with mission support can help mission leaders leverage the investment and infrastructure of mission-support functions to deliver improved mission results in a more effective manner.

Making the best use of performance and results management.

Tracking performance and results is increasingly important in government, as shown by administration initiatives such as open data. Today, the focus is on effective use of data to inform rapid decision-making. Though new laws and technological advancements make this possible, incorporating performance management into government culture is lacking.

Managing risk in a rapidly changing world.

Managing public sector risk is arduous, requiring government to balance national security, economic, natural, budgetary, privacy and program risks simultaneously, to name just a few. Addressing the plethora of public sector risks entails first understanding them, then developing strategies and tools to mitigate them. It requires incorporating risk strategies into decision-making plans and vocalizing risk to relevant groups — a challenge the public sector will continue to struggle with for the foreseeable future.

Developing new models of public leadership within and across agencies.

Because of the complex and uncertain nature of challenges faced by public sector leaders, it is often necessary for them to use shared leadership models and networked approaches tailored to specific challenges. These complex problems require new models of public sector leadership within and across agencies, to ensure public sector officials are able to meet the challenges they face daily.

Those interested in submitting their proposals can do so here. The deadlines are Oct. 1, 2013; April 1, 2014; or Oct. 1, 2014.

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Government IT News, IBM Center for the Business of Government, Innovation
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