The Herman Trend Alert|
October 8, 2003
Thinly staffed government agencies barely have enough people to complete their work; thus, tasks often take much too long to get done. A large percentage of these workers will be eligible for retirement within just a few years. A substantial resource of knowledge and experience will be walking out the door.
Government employers generally have not kept pace with private industry in compensation, benefits, flexibility, and organizational culture. They are at a disadvantage in their competition for talent. As more people retire, this situation will become more acute. The public servants must still perform for the citizens; they are not able to further reduce service levels and, in fact, many are expected to improve their performance.
Faced with the difficulty of attracting and holding a sufficient number of qualified workers in an increasingly competitive employment market, federal, state, and local governments will apply two strategies: One will be to change their human resource policies to become more attractive---with significantly more aggressive recruiting and retention programs. The other approach will be to use technology to deliver services traditionally provided by humans.
Given the challenges that governments will face with staffing issues, we forecast an important increase in the alternative known as "e-government:" Public services provided on-line. All levels of government, and a wide range of agencies, will shift as many transactions as they can to the internet. The trend has already begun---for services like license plate renewal and payment of taxes---and is accelerating. Anyone with an Internet connection will be able to access government services much more efficiently on-line instead of by telephone or time-consuming trips to government offices. To learn more about the range of services available through e-government, visit the web site of one of the leaders in the field: www.nicusa.com.
The challenge will be making e-government available to all citizens. People without computer access will not be able to take advantage of this alternative, but people without cars must use public transportation. The solution may be secure kiosks strategically placed in the community, perhaps first in libraries and government buildings, later in banks and/or supermarkets.
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