Gov2020: Deloitte’s Look Into the Future of Government

Deloitte government experts William D. Eggers and Paul MacMillan recently published Gov2020, an extensive research project “to help leaders from all sectors make sense of the rapidly changing demographic, societal, economic, and technological trends shaping our future.”

Essentially, Gov2020 is a roadmap of the evolving world over the next five years.

The project is a result of years of work, including studies and hundreds of interviews conducted around the world. It explores how societal factors are driving trends in education, human services, defense, transportation, and more.

It’s also a call to action for governments to adapt to these trends in order to be effective in the coming decades.

These global trends don’t just mean change at the international and national levels. In fact, growing technologies mean innovation is more accessible, especially for local governments. GovTech companies like ours will be right there to help communities of all sizes embrace and navigate this transition into the digital age.

The Megashifts

Gov2020 is comprised of 39 Drivers of change and 194 Trends predicted to take place over the next half decade.

One example Driver is the rise of cloud computing that will accelerate mobile and analytics technologies. A corresponding trend will be a shift in government services from offices to individuals with technology (e.g. a new driver prints out a DMV permit at home).

Below is a brief look at the 7 “Mega-Shifts” (encompassing all 194 Trends) that Deloitte researchers predict will happen by 2020. Eggers and MacMillan highlight these Mega-Shifts as having the potential to “transform the public sector.”

1. Government as enabler instead of a solution provider

The world is becoming too complex for governments to effectively solve problems on their own. And there’s no reason they should. Governments, many times with good reason, carry the weight of institutions and bureaucracy.

So instead of trying to pull internal levers, governments will facilitate collaborative problem-solving across sectors.

This means engaging talent from all sectors to work on the world’s most pressing problems. As Eggers and MacMillan write in their book, The Solution Economy: This is the age of government enabling triple bottom lines. Click To Tweet Where organizations help society by seeking financial, social, and environmental outcomes.

The government as a conduit for this influx of talent, is then responsible for managing, facilitating, and holding people accountable.

Former head of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, Beth Novack, has been talking about this revolution for years. One strategy is for governments to release internal data and create open source platforms. The world’s talent responds with problem-solving applications like one used by the government in San Ramon, California to help connect CPR-certified individuals to crisis situations.

2. Made-for-me service delivery

Technology and access to data is changing how governments serve the public. Click To Tweet With companies like Uber, we have already started to “consumerize” public services. These services will continue to multiply and become increasingly borderless.

Harnessing data from the world’s billion+ smart phones users, service providers will provide more personalized consumer experiences. For example, auto insurers might be able to offer better pricing segmentations based on your phone’s GPS data.

Additionally, traditional government services will move out of the office and into the hands of technology users. For instance, many local governments are already doing all permitting and licensing online.

However, some government services will always require face-to-face interactions (e.g. a driving test). To meet this need, governments will adopt “food-truck” style delivery models, using mobile units to make public services more accessible to those who need them.

3. Distributed governance

Governance in the digital age means governing is no longer siloed within the public sector. Technology will distribute responsibilities, idea-sharing, and problem-solving, employing the talent of people around the world.

A global community of knowledge will replace discrete governance within borders. Click To Tweet The mentality of “access over ownership”means the rise of shareable cities–where networks of governments create a free flow of ideas, resources, and people.

The future of government: Crowdsourcing policySource: Gov2020, Deloitte

Part of the U.S. Open Government Initiative, the federal government created–a website housing thousands of government data sets for citizen-developers. This project spawned dozens of apps to help people do things like find the right college financing option or find a local doctor that accepts their insurance.

Open data platforms will continue to provide individuals and non-public sector organizations with the opportunity for crowd-sourced problem solving, services, and even policies. New generations will grow up believing that they live in a writeable society, where they can affect change within their communities and beyond.

4. Data-smart government

Policymaking, regulation, and allocation of resources will all improve in the age of big data and digital technology.

More data, for example, means governments can better track performance of new initiatives and create outcome-based regulations. Policies will be increasingly agile (incremental improvements made based on data), and informed by psychology, behavioral economics, and analytics.

Governments will also use analytics to make predictive policies, encouraging citizens to make smarter choices and preempt problems. “For example, rather than simply reacting to custodial parents calling in to report they are not receiving child support, a predictive model can alert enforcement officers ahead of time about the noncustodial parents who are likely to go into arrears,” explain Gov2020 authors.

In addition to predictive governance, cognitive technology (e.g. machine learning, natural language processing, robotics, etc.) will take over many automated processes and free up human resources for more creative, interactive work.

5. Alternative forms of government funding

Governments will have more flexibility and power to impact widespread change with innovations to traditional funding models.

Pay-for-performance funding will give governments leverage to hold their partners accountable for results. For example, the social impact bond–where governments only pay if an initiative is successful–transfers some financial risk from governments to contractors and investors.

Future of government: trillion dollar markets for social outcomes

Alternative funding models will also make for stronger public private partnerships. The rising popularity of patient capital–investments into early-stage projects with long-term returns–means that private money is now becoming available for large-scale infrastructure projects.

Lastly, mobile payment technology (e.g. you can pay for permits online) and dynamic pricing (i.e. you pay for what you use) will help ensure a better balance of supply and demand for government services and goods.

6. Just-in-time civil service

The model of the civil servant in one department for an entire career is on it’s way out. Governments are becoming more dynamic, and that means a major shift in the way they use their human talent.

Rising generations seek diversity in their careers, and the public sector will have to adapt to become competitive. Public sector careers will be more like patchwork quilts, where employees move around based on the project they’re working on.

As digitization and cognitive technology automate tasks and services, more government jobs will require creativity and advanced people skills. This means opening the doors for new talent. Whether that be borrowing people from other organizations, hiring freelancers, or attracting international professionals, governments will develop dynamic employment options to keep up with the pace of change.

7. A new basis for national prosperity

GDP is a poor way of measuring a country’s success. For instance, the sharing economy has produced a new market of micro entrepreneurs (Uber, AirBnB, Etsy), decoupling productivity and conventional employment.

More importantly, it doesn’t measure many things that matter.

As Robert Kennedy said in 1968, “[GDP] measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Luckily, we already have new metrics for national progress. In partnership with Deloitte, Social Progress Imperative created a Social Progress Index. It measures a country’s progress based on things like access to basic medical care, education, and personal freedoms.

The future of government: Social Progress Index


In particular, education will be critical to national advancement. Not conventional academics, but the ability to train people as rapidly as the world evolves around them.


Gov2020 highlights some of the most pivotal global trends that will soon reshape the public sector for decades to come. This new age will create stronger, more effective partnerships across sectors, and raise a world of more civically engaged generations.

It’s an exciting time for governments, and the time to innovate is now. Find partners who share your vision and values, and start building something together.

For more resources

To learn more about all 39 drivers and 194 trends, check out Gov2020’s interactive website.

Read: Digital Government Rankings in US News & World Report ‘Best States’ 2017

Government Innovation, Government Technology, Local Government Resources

Contact Us


Boston Headquarters
320 Congress St., 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02210

Los Angeles
555 W 5th St., 35th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90013

High-performance permitting for government agencies

© 2020 ViewPoint Government Solutions

Good Reads

Subscribe to our weekly take on
e-government trends