Mar 16

Four Scenarios for the Future of the Federal Government – Five Years Later

In 2010, I published the following four scenarios on GovLoop:

SteamGov – The Federal government still uses large, centralized IT architectures and the average Federal worker’s work technology is less capable than the worker’s personal technology.

Google.Gov – The Federal government is greatly reduced in size while almost all government services are provided through contractors.

LabGov – State and local governments take the lead in using the latest open-source technologies, agile project management, and other innovations to more effectively and efficiently deliver government services. This causes a shift in the balance-of-power between the Federal government and the states as citizens demand the Federal government allow the states to provide services that once were the purview of the Federal government.

InnoGov – The Federal government establishes a DARPA-like institution to seek out innovative Gov 2.0 projects and accelerate the adoption of new open-source technologies and agile management techniques. By 2014, the Federal government is the leading innovator in IT and management practices and helps to revitalize the private and non-profit sectors with its technology/best practices transfer programs.


Almost four years ago, I revisited the four scenarios. At that time, I wrote that the Federal government seemed to be heading toward InnoGov because of the launch of the GSA’s Digital Services Innovation Center. Even so, many parts of the Federal government were still stuck in SteamGov. Since that time, there has been more progress toward InnoGov with the establishment of 18F and agency innovation labs such as Health and Human Services’ IdeaLab and the Office of Personnel Management’s Innovation Lab. Most of the Federal government is still stuck in SteamGov, but good progress has been made.

I am still undecided on if the ultimate scenario will be InnoGov or LabGov. The state, metropolitan, and local governments are making incredible gains in technological innovation. Judging from what I read in GovTech, I am still betting on the LabGov scenario being the dominant scenario in 2020.

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