There are a number of threats that face local government today. The public sector is dealing with spiraling pension costs, annual increases in healthcare expenses for active employees and retirees, and other employee-related expenditures that continue to rise. At the same time, revenues are down or at best flat. Then, to add insult to injury, many of the legislative bodies (e.g., councils, boards, etc.) are finding themselves unable to generate consensus because of the impact of special interest groups. The final blow comes as the global economy continues to sputter along desperately trying to emerge from the most dramatic financial crisis since the Great Depression. Now is the time for serious innovation, entrepreneurial vision, and the strategic implementation of new and improved service models. These solutions must leverage technology, be cost effective, and not only provide reductions in costs, but also bring opportunities for revenue enhancement. Up until now, these areas were not on the radar of your typical public sector leader.
Given the rough road toward fiscal health that most California cities must travel, it will take a new cadre of professionals that are quick studies, highly flexible, and easily adaptable to change, as the internal dynamics are in constant flux. These professionals will need to have a strong analytical sense and the ability to look outside the proverbial box for solutions—what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Furthermore, the municipal leaders of tomorrow will need to make use of diplomatic, innovative, and creative approaches to problem solving while having a solid appreciation for serving in a political environment. To accomplish this, they will need IT professionals that are flexible enough to work in different areas of the organization and leverage their technical know-how to streamline, optimize, and automate the various areas of the organization.
The old cliché that an organization must do more with less is just that—an old cliché. The truth is that an organization must find new ways to consolidate services with other jurisdictions in ways that are not only cost beneficial, but also revenue positive. The best people for this mission are clearly those technology-savvy individuals who can find ways to combine common business processes together among perhaps disparate jurisdictions in an effort to reduce costs and generate revenue. How is this possible? It’s actually quite simple. Local governments need to stop looking at their operations simply as cost centers and instead look at them as areas for revenue generation. Perhaps it’s better for multiple jurisdictions to contract with a larger neighbor for a given service, and by each of them paying for their share plus a small administrative charge, they can get the same or better service for less money than doing it themselves. Plus, the entity providing the service not only covers their internal costs, but they also generate a small amount of revenue that can be used to offset other costs within the organization. This is what is known as the Government-to-Government (G2G) shared services model. This is the direction of the future, and now is the time for private sector IT professionals to take advantage of the public sector as it prepares for real change.