2019 Market Outlook: Dan Helfrich on Top 5 Trends in Government

We look forward to the new year and new opportunities for innovation and growth in the government contracting community. This past year, the public and private sectors both experienced more emphasis and demand for cybersecurity, merging technology with health care, and how to best mitigate the insider threat.

As a part of an annual series, WashingtonExec reached out to those most knowledgeable and experienced in the federal contracting space. We asked executives in and around the Beltway for insight on the direction they see in the industry. Topics discussed include M&A activity, public/private sector collaboration, cloud computing migration, the incoming millennial workforce in defense/IT/health care, talent retention and more.

Dan Helfrich, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Next in the series is a conversation with Deloitte principal and Government & Public Services leader Dan Helfrich on what’s big for government and higher education in 2019. Helfrich discusses his top five trends in the public sector for the coming year.

Convergence of workforce and automation

Whether it is client conversations or the views of our Center for Government Insights articles, government agencies have moved from experimenting with automation to implementing it. In 2019 and beyond, government entities will continue reimagining how work gets done, what are the needed skills and how do their people spend more time on the value-add work. We call this trend Future of Government Work.

Agencies across the federal government are now saving thousands of hours of employees’ time that was previously spent on data entry and processing data. Now, employees are spending more time on valuable and mission-critical work.

As government agencies are now experiencing firsthand how automation and cognitive impact their organizations, we’re having more conversations about what government roles look like. We’ve envisioned a few new government jobs of the future — such as Smart Base Commander or Talent Cloud Coordinator — in 2025.

In 2019, I look forward to state and local governments applying this same technology and giving their employees more time to focus on more complex tasks and advancing how, when and where work gets done.

Smart everything. From smart city to smart base to smart campus.

A university campus or a military base is basically like a mini city. So, it’s a natural progression for those communities to embrace a smart cities approach to create a digitally connected environment.

In the past year, we’ve heard from a number of clients — and we anticipate more clients in 2019 — to explore, embrace and then implement approaches being used by not just smart cities but also smart retail (think campus store or commissary) or smart venue (think stadium or medical facility).

For example, Arizona State University’s Center for Smart Cities and Regions, is not only developing evidence-based policies and programs for the Greater Phoenix Smart Region but also serving as a living laboratory for its own efforts in creating a smart campus.

Governments collaborating

Over the past year, I’ve seen more and more examples of different government entities — federal, state, local and those in other countries — figuring out how to work more effectively and efficiently together.

For example, our Deloitte-National Association of State Chief Information Officers Cybersecurity survey highlighted how state Health and Human Services agencies were able to secure funding from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to establish CMS’ suggested Minimum Acceptable Risk Safeguards for systems that consume Medicare and Medicaid data. This funding support allowed state HHS agencies meet the new safeguards, which is good for the state, federal government and, of course, citizens.

With states responsible for dispersing billions of federal dollars through the many federal programs, the more the federal government can do to support and work with state governments to modernize their systems, the better those programs can be implemented and dollars more accurately spent.

On a global level, I’ve gotten to see what innovative practices governments are using to advance their missions and serve citizens. The more governments can work together and share — whether it is federal and state or federal and local or international city to U.S. city, the better off we and citizens are.

Immersive learning and interaction

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a real and growing appetite for all things virtual, digital and augmented reality — so much so that we’ve built out a new studio in our Arlington, Virginia office. Clients are using it for immersive learning and training especially for occupations with high cost and risk to people or equipment.

In general, people are becoming more and more comfortable and in some cases — preferring the ease of a digital or virtual connection. Our Global Mobile Consumer Survey this year showed 85 percent of people use a smartphone and that smartphone is their preferred way to do video calls and watch videos. Many clients across the private and public sectors are looking at those consumer trends and figuring out how it can impact their business or missions.

For example, we are seeing interest from federal health clients begin to expand their focus on virtual environments to expand reach and frequency of patient care. And as millennials and Generation Z age, government health organizations can start to get ahead of the curve to explore and implement virtual health services.

Preventing incorrect or fraudulent payments

With automation, data analytics comes the ability for government agencies to strengthen the financial integrity of their programs. Government agencies are starting to flip the dynamic; instead of chasing down funds that have already been mistakenly paid to the wrong entity to now preventing those funds from being erroneously spent in the first place.

And as many state governments are getting federal funds to update legacy systems, states are also seeing it as an opportunity to improve the integrity of those programs. Sometimes, those legacy systems required a lot of manual work for employees to verify information or look across a number of different benefit programs, but now with new technology in place, state agencies can more easily get a full and more accurate view of payments.

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