The Coronavirus pandemic has “laid bare some of government’s most longstanding shortcomings” but also amounted to an “unexpected grand experiment” that led to innovations in delivering government services, the Partnership for Public Service has said.
In its annual report, the organization said the government successfully adapted in areas such as processing of loan applications for small businesses, expanding telemedicine to veterans and distribution of vaccines.
“Federal leaders across government also rose to the occasion and engaged and supported the workforce in new and creative ways. This included greater collaboration within agencies and across the government and providing employees with the technology necessary to do their jobs in remote settings and the flexibility to meet their personal needs.”
However, it said the pandemic also highlighted long-standing issues such as the length of the hiring process—an average of 98 days, more than double the private sector average, it said—the lack of younger employees, especially in the IT field; outdated IT; and employee engagement and customer service that lag the private sector, among others.
“Agencies need to build on improvements they made, sort through what worked and what did not, and set the government on a sustained path to revitalization. They need to envision more possibilities for government and work toward making them a reality,” it said.
It recommended priorities, which (in its words) are:
* Leadership and Stewardship: Federal leaders must understand their responsibilities to the institutions and the workforces they lead, commit to leaving their agencies better then they found them and be stewards of the public trust.
* Talent: Government needs to attract new and diverse talent at all levels and improve the federal hiring process.
* Innovation and Tech Modernization: Government must improve its ability to meet the demands of the interconnected, technology-driven world by investing in modern technology and becoming more innovative.
* Collaboration: Federal leaders need to build communities within and outside of government to solve problems and deliver services more effectively.