Will New Leaders Turn Campaign Promises Into Actionable Agendas? (Opinion)

Government can use private-sector lessons to improve public service.

by / December 29, 2010

We made it! The 2010 elections have passed into history — and now the real work begins. But based on the past campaign season, I’m a bit worried about the future. I’m afraid that many of our elected officials spent so much effort telling citizens what they’re for and against that it may be hard for them to present a positive, actionable agenda when they take office.  

The good news is that this may be a chance to help your elected officials quickly establish an agenda to address the structural deficits and complex realities of governance that many will only discover and fully understand once they take office.   

I recommend looking at the Technology CEO Council (TCC) report that focuses on how government can use private-sector lessons to improve public service. One Trillion Reasons: How Commercial Best Practices to Maximize Productivity Can Save Taxpayer Money and Enhance Government Services puts a private-sector stamp of approval on years of best practices in state and local government. Most of the recommendations should not surprise you.  

  1. Consolidate IT infrastructure.
  2. Streamline government supply chains.
  3. Reduce energy use.
  4. Move to shared services for mission-support activities.
  5. Apply advanced business analytics to reduce improper payments.
  6. Reduce field operations footprint and move to electronic self-service.


I was pleased to see how closely the TCC’s recommendations align with priorities and activities reported to the Center for Digital Government — the research division of Government Technology parent company e.Republic Inc. — through this year’s Digital States, Digital Counties and Digital Cities submissions.  

The CDG’s surveys confirm that consolidation and virtualization continue to be a top priority for state and local governments. Simplifying procurement has long been desired by government and encouraged by private-sector partners, and current economic conditions are making positive change possible. Reducing energy use is becoming a popular way to operationalize the “green government” rhetoric. Some promising cooperative shared-services activities are under way nationwide, uniting many jurisdictions in cost-saving partnerships. Better analytics and decision-support tools enable fewer improper payments and better decision-making of program outcomes. Electronic self-service and greater work force mobility continue to be central strategies in the most successful jurisdictions. 

Being a prophet in your own land can be difficult. For more information on CDG survey trends or how to help your elected officials set the agenda in 2011, visit or e-mail me at


Todd Sander Executive Director, Center for Digital Government

Todd Sander is Executive Director of the Center for Digital Government, and is responsible for driving the strategic direction and development of the Center's programs and for providing thought leadership and hands-on expertise in expanding the Center’s services to both government and industry.