Wednesday, November 1, 2023
A new report draws on insights from government leaders and stakeholders for actions that support a more resilient public sector.

Since the turn of the millennium, pandemics, heat waves, wildfires, floods, cyberattacks, supply chain interruptions, and other crises have deeply stressed governments, communities, businesses, and individuals around the world. This cascade of catastrophic events raises fundamental questions about how governments can anticipate, prepare for, and respond to these and other shocks yet to come.

Shocks transcend geographic, jurisdictional, political, and organizational boundaries. Furthermore, adaptation, preparation, and response to shock events cannot be the responsibility of a single sector, program, agency, or level of government. Instead, the key to success—and the root cause of many failures— lies within the capabilities of individual network participants and the strength of the network before, during, and after an upheaval. Simply put, complex problems cannot be solved in silos.

What practical steps can governments take in the near term to better prepare for and respond to future shocks? IBM, working through the IBM Institute for Business Value and the IBM Center for The Business of Government, and in partnership with the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy), launched an initiative to help governments identify core capabilities critical to building resilience. The initiative also addressed priorities included in the “Grand Challenges for Public Administration” put forth by the Academy.

Global sessions were combined with regional and local sessions through partners including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Center for American Studies (CSA), and the American Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands (AmCham). All this contributed to the new report, Preparing Governments for Future Shocks: A Roadmap to Resilience , principally authored by Academy Fellow Chris Mihm with the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

The partners convened a series of international roundtable discussions with global leaders from the public, private, academic, and non-profit sectors to capture lessons across five key domain areas: Emergency Preparedness and Response, Cybersecurity, Supply Chain, Climate Sustainability, and Workforce. Insights from the roundtables identified valuable strategies and solutions to drive governmental action. To learn more about the initiative, read the blog, ‘‘Preparing Governments for Future Shocks’ or listen to the podcast with Michael J. Keegan, IBM Center for The Business of Government.

Based on the common themes that emerged from the roundtable discussions, this report lays out a roadmap of eight imperatives—a guide that governments at all levels can use to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to shocks of any origin.

Eight Imperatives to Address Future Shocks

Imperative 1: Build a governance mechanism for future shocks

Imperative 2: Plan to mitigate crosscutting shocks

Imperative 3: Manage risks and extend opportunities

Imperative 4: Increase public participation and improve communication

Imperative 5: Fast-track government innovation and transformation

Imperative 6: Support data-driven decision-making strategies

Imperative 7: Dedicate the proper resources and get the incentives right

Imperative 8: Invest in a future shock-ready workforce