November 2, 2017  5:45 PM – 6:25 PM
50 days

Why the future seems so hard to get to

Despite immense pressure for change from a global digital community, governments change slowly. Recommendations - more nimble, more open, less siloed, more proactive - go unheeded. In the meantime, policies that depend on technology all too often limit innovation or leave people behind. Changes blindside government. There are still fax-only services. And all of this costs public money.

What does digital transformation seem so daunting? Two reasons:

One, our problem definition is mostly correct, but deeply incomplete. The problem is not that government is too slow; it’s a mix of factors like accountability, procurement oversight, and the massive service breadth of government. The problem is that the costs of governance and checks and balances sometimes outweigh their benefits. The problem is that the tradeoffs are greater than we admit. This is a much less fun and easy problem to solve.

Two, it’s that even though we recognize the challenges, calling them “challenges” makes it seem like they’re surmountable with a little focus and effort. That undersells the commitment required by an order of magnitude, or makes us focus on solving the challenge at the surface rather than the system.

What happens to those recommendations when put through that grinder? What 50-day options stay intact?

Prime Ministers of Canada Fellow
Public Policy Forum
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