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An Agenda for the Future of Governance

As the world moves quickly from the industrial age into the information age, new challenges have arisen and demands on government have increased. But the public sector has often been in a reactive mode—struggling to adapt to a rapidly evolving international, economic, social, technological, and cultural environment. Over the next decade, all sectors of society must work together to address the critical issues of protecting and advancing democracy, strengthening social and economic development, ensuring environmental sustainability, and managing technological changes. And governments at all levels must improve their operations so that they can tackle problems in new ways and earn the public’s trust.

12 Grand Challenges in Public Administration

Protect Electoral Integrity and Enhance Voter Participation-icon

Protect Electoral Integrity and Enhance Voter Participation

Voting at the federal, state, and local levels is fundamental to American democracy, and citizens must have confidence in electoral systems, processes, and results. Voting at the federal, state, and local levels is fundamental to American democracy, and citizens must have confidence in electoral systems, processes, and results. Electoral integrity and voter participation are enhanced by (1) ensuring that everyone with a legal right to vote is able to do so; (2) protecting such critical election infrastructure as storage facilities...

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Modernize and Reinvigorate the Public Service-icon

Modernize and Reinvigorate the Public Service

Public agencies and administrators have an important role to play in addressing the full suite of government’s human capital challenges Federal, state, and local governments deliver vitally important services to the American people each and every day. If it is an important need, public agencies at one or more levels of government are likely to have an important role in meeting it, including but not limited to: Defense and international relations;Police and fire protection;Public education;Public health and housing;Transportation and other...

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Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement-icon

Develop New Approaches to Public Governance and Engagement

In the 21st Century, no significant public problem fits entirely within one government agency or even one level of government, and our federal system presupposes that all levels of government have an important role to play in the democratic process. In the 21st Century, no significant public problem fits entirely within one government agency or even one level of government, and our federal system presupposes that all levels of government have an important role to play in the democratic process...

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Advance National Interests in a Changing Global Context-icon

Advance National Interests in a Changing Global Context

The United States must develop new ways to advance its national and global interests within this changing global landscape. Although the United States remains the world’s most powerful nation, the unipolar moment of the early post-Cold War years has been replaced with a much more diffuse international system and a wider array of complex issues requiring sustained attention, including: Many vulnerable nations are experiencing state breakdown, terrorism, natural disasters, and environmental degradation;The world has the largest population flows and the...

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Foster Social Equity-icon

Foster Social Equity

Social equity—a key pillar of public administration alongside the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness—addresses fairness, justice, and equity within a variety of public contexts. Social equity—a key pillar of public administration alongside the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness—addresses fairness, justice, and equity within a variety of public contexts. Although the United States has made significant progress in expanding access to opportunities to more of the nation’s citizens and residents, we continue to struggle with ensuring the equitable design and implementation of public...

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Connect Individuals to Meaningful Work-icon

Connect Individuals to Meaningful Work

Humans have an innate quest for meaning. Our jobs and our work are a principal means for fulfilling that need—they have both instrumental and intrinsic value. Instrumentally, work provides the means by which we make a living and support our families. Work also has important implications for one’s personal identity, with much of our self-esteem deriving from it. When the work is perceived as meaningful, people have a sense of fulfillment and purpose that not only strengthens their psychological welfare...

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Build Resilient Communities-icon

Build Resilient Communities

America needs to build resilient communities with the capacity to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations. Across the nation, America needs resilient communities with the capacity to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations. Such communities are able to bounce back from disruptions while providing a high quality of life for all residents. Resilient communities are able to address natural hazard preparedness, mitigation, and response needs, but, as the term is used here, it refers to the...

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Advance the Nation’s Long-Term Fiscal Health-icon

Advance the Nation’s Long-Term Fiscal Health

Although the nation’s fiscal problems are significant, there is no shortage of proposals to begin addressing them. The United States faces serious current and long-term fiscal challenges at every level of government: The federal government, which spends nearly $4.5 trillion per year, has a total of. $22 trillion dollars in debt. This is 78 percent of GDP—or double the average over the past 50 years. The national debt is growing by about $1 trillion a year—despite a robust economy with...

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Steward Natural Resources and Address Climate Change-icon

Steward Natural Resources and Address Climate Change

As the nation’s industry and population growth, it is critical that the public, nonprofit, and private sectors effectively steward natural resources and protect the environment for ourselves and future generations. As the nation’s industry and population grows, it is critical that the public, nonprofit, and private sectors effectively steward natural resources and protect the environment for ourselves and future generations. America’s natural resources—including our public lands—are a rich heritage that has made enormous contributions to our economy, health, environment, and...

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Create Modern Water Systems for Safe and Sustainable Use-icon

Create Modern Water Systems for Safe and Sustainable Use

Climate change, aging infrastructure, and dated governance and management structures have combined to make America’s water consumption behaviors unsustainable. Climate change, aging infrastructure, and dated governance and management structures have combined to undermine the safety and sustainability of America’s water systems. In recent years, many parts of the country have experienced drought, leading states to limit the amount of water that can be used for agricultural purposes. For example, New Mexico’s demand takes more than 80 percent of the largely...

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Ensure Data Security and Privacy Rights of Individuals-icon

Ensure Data Security and Privacy Rights of Individuals

In the digital age, the American people knowingly and unknowingly produce huge amounts of data on a daily basis. In the digital age, the American people knowingly and unknowingly produce huge amounts of data on a daily basis, and governments at all levels increasingly rely on digital systems to manage their internal operations and deliver public services. Through widespread e-commerce, ubiquitous GPS maps, and regular social media interactions, the public transmits their sensitive financial, health, and other personal information through...

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Make Government AI Ready-icon

Make Government AI Ready

Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows computerized systems to perform tasks traditionally requiring human intelligence: analytics, decision support, visual perception, and foreign language translation. Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows computerized systems to perform tasks traditionally requiring human intelligence: analytics, decision support, visual perception, and foreign language translation. AI and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) have the potential to spur economic growth, enhance national security, and improve the quality of life. In a world of “Big Data” and “Thick Data,” AI tools can process huge...

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