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The future of public service

Insights to action

Technology consistently impacts the way we live our lives, including how we view the workplace. By 2035, radical technological changes and new generational expectations about public service work, coupled with mission shifts across the government may challenge the traditional notion of “public service” from lifelong agency employment to a more flexible federal career model. This new vision of the future public service worker will require a rethinking of current workforce planning and talent management approaches.

The government worker of 2035

​By 2035, the government workforce will likely consist of technologically advanced generations with different employment expectations. These new workers may be less attached to “career tenure” and will expect to work on short-term, specialized projects where they can apply their innovative technology skills. Future public service workers will likely be interested in performing meaningful work with tangible evidence of social responsibility and impact, and leaders should be prepared to respond.

Based on existing trends, the future public service worker will be:
  • Tech savvy individual permanently connected to advanced open source technology and seeking validation and input from collective, digital “wisdom”
  • Highly collaborative and flexible public servants familiar with working in ad-hoc, anonymous project team environments
  • Mobile, available to work from everywhere at any time
  • Data-centric, analytics-driven, at home with big data and visualization techniques
  • Highly educated and striving for continuous development
  • High degree of autonomy
  • Looking for opportunities to make a social impact
  • Not specifically attached to one career


Navigating the transition

So what does this mean for the future of public service and the federal government?

To gradually and smoothly transition to the new vision of the future public service worker, agencies need to consider a few mitigating strategies:
  • Inventory the regulatory changes needed to accommodate a largely “non-career” employee model that will impact current federal classification of positions, occupational series, competency models, performance management, and salary practices.
  • Conduct annual public service planning exercises using a more forward-looking approach comprised of employee predictive scenarios, and labor markets and technology trends as a way of mitigating a radical, disruptive shift to a new workforce model.
  • Rethink current staff performance management practices to enhance focus on individual accountability for results and career mobility.
  • Collect and review success stories of interagency collaboration and public innovation projects.
  • Increase virtual collaboration and use of digital technologies.
  • Conduct periodic workforce studies and employee surveys to understand and map the expectations and preferences of a younger workforce.

In sum, the federal government must prepare for radical changes in technology and demographics that will transform the future of public service and the federal market.

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Insights to action is a community for sharing proven ideas during a time when government agencies are almost universally experiencing disruptive change. It shares insights from trusted leaders with extensive experience and diverse perspectives on leadership, strategy, business operations, innovation, and emerging capabilities.

Insights to action helps leaders and managers look again at the challenges and opportunities that come along with the evolution in government.

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