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Are We on the Verge of a Public-Sector Performance Renaissance?

The era of "10x government" may be at hand, meaning a dramatic multiplication in service delivery, operational efficiency and mission attainment, thanks to AI and other technologies.

Government and technology illustration
Our research center spent thousands of hours over the last year exploring a simple question: How can we achieve quantum leaps in public-sector performance?

At the Deloitte Center for Government Insights, we pursued this question in a context of widespread public doubt, where trust in government is at or near all-time lows. What we discovered might shock many doubters: We may be on the verge of a public-sector renaissance. In an era where change unfurls at an unprecedented pace, governments worldwide are shedding inertia, embracing innovation and achieving what we’ve dubbed “10x government” improvements.

But what exactly does 10x government entail? Think of it as a dramatic multiplication in service delivery, operational efficiency and mission attainment. These aren’t incremental changes; they represent exponential advancements across various sectors. Sometimes these improvements manifest in tangible ways, like a dramatic reduction in costs or response times. Other times, they’re more nuanced yet equally impactful, such as vastly enhanced customer experiences that defy precise quantification yet signify a profound shift.

What propels 10x government to the forefront of 2024? The answer lies in the dozens of real-world examples we’ve curated in our Government Trends 2024 report. The digital revolution, which has been reshaping governments for over two decades, intersects with artificial intelligence technologies, including generative AI, laying the groundwork for unprecedented advancements.

The digital revolution has already paved the way for significant shifts — think telehealth transforming health-care accessibility and cloud computing bolstering government resilience. And with the advent of AI, governments are harnessing its power to detect fraud, cut costs, enhance customer experiences and streamline operations. For those equipped with robust digital infrastructure, achieving 10x improvements isn’t just a lofty goal but tangibly attainable.

Yet technology alone isn’t sufficient. True transformation necessitates a more holistic approach, one that combines technological innovation with process reinvention, human-centered design, behavioral insights and cross-sector collaborations. Take Houston’s remarkable 64 percent reduction in homelessness since 2011. This success was the result of the coordinated effort of more than 100 organizations aligning on goals and working together. As part of the effort, a cross-sector data platform gave all providers access to critical information.

Historically, transformative innovations took decades to unfold. The internal combustion engine, electricity and the telephone all changed the world, but required additional innovations and significant time to scale their impact. By contrast, the Internet, smartphones and computing power have brought about transformative change in less than 30 years. In the age of AI, the pace of change will only increase.

This relates to 10x government in the current context. Amid the throes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, governments can strategically combine new tools and strategies for transformative impact. The power lies in synergistic convergence: melding disparate tools to birth something entirely new.

Take the perennial issue of speeding government service delivery and operations. Consider how combining different tools might have tangible impacts:

  • Digital technologies + human-centered design + evidence-based policies + contracting = reduced wait times
  • Digital infrastructure + customer-centric mindset + regulations + shared governance = simplified business license application
  • Robotic process automation + AI + human-machine teaming + human-centered design + cloud + machine learning = accelerated grant application processes

The possibilities are not just theoretical. By implementing robotic process automation and process reforms, Ohio has made Medicaid accessible to newborns on their day of birth, a process that previously took seven to 10 business days.

Many governments are also moving toward flexible approaches to policymaking, funding, technology development and decision-making. Pennsylvania rebuilt a damaged bridge on I-95 in just 12 days by using flexible funding, procurement and regulatory processes and by closely collaborating with multiple stakeholders.

These examples underscore the potential for 10x government improvements across areas ranging from customer experience to equity, from productivity to resilience. In this era of boundless possibilities, governments stand on the precipice of transformative change. Armed with innovative tools, strategies and a collaborative mindset, 10x government isn’t just an aspiration — it’s a reality waiting to be seized.

Governing’s opinion columns reflect the views of their authors and not necessarily those of Governing’s editors or management.
Executive director of the Deloitte Center for Government Insights.
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