The Deloitte Government Trends is an annual report which identifies the key trends likely to impact on governments globally in the coming 12 months. After a tumultuous 2020, dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 Report identifies nine trends that have three things in common.
Firstly, they go to the heart of government operations rather than policy. Secondly, they are not just ideas but are happening in practice, often a faster rate than ever seen before. Finally, they are global in scale. As justice agencies progress their modernisation agendas, the Deloitte Government Trends provides a useful framework for organisations and justice systems as a whole to consider their approaches.
Justice systems globally are increasingly transforming to build a more integrated, whole systems approach. There are several key drivers for this:
- Increasing influence of digital technology to support more efficient citizen/user-centric service delivery and evidence-based decision making;
- Tailored multi-agency service delivery across the civil and criminal justice spectrums to meet the needs of users who need to access the justice system and vulnerable populations whether victims, witnesses, offenders, or impacted communities;
- Increased pressure on justice system modernisation in an integrated manner due to increasing costs, rising expectations from the public, greater public scrutiny and accountability, performance pressures and multiple crisis events;
- Increased focus on identifying the root causes of all forms of discrimination, harassment, and exclusion across society, and on how to effectively resolve these issues;
- Changing demographics, increasing demand, and an emphasis on equitable access to justice and outcomes; and
- Covid-19 has redefined border security and how the smart, trusted traveler is designed, managed and protected.
1. Accelerated digital government
Covid-19 has brought the next generation of digitisation to governments and moved it from a “nice to have” to a “must have”. To meet the surge in demands while operating virtually, governments have accelerated digital programmes to enable continuity of service delivery. This has demonstrated what can be achieved when there is a “burning platform”, and set the tone for the future.
2. Seamless service delivery
Many private sector organisations have, for years, been building towards services to consumers, often delivered digitally, which are personalised, seamless and anticipate customer needs. Governments too have started to improve services by moving away from a department-based approach towards a life event approach, or one which reflects a citizen’s journey though a process that requires the involvement of one or more government agencies. The civil and criminal justice systems have multiple examples of this.
3. Location liberation
Covid-19 caused public sector organisations to rapidly and fundamentally change how they accomplished their missions. From remote working to online court sittings the pandemic brought the future of government work into the present. Many of these organisations have begun to embrace the concept of adaptive workplaces, based on the notion that people and teams should work where they are most productive, inspired and engaged.
4. Fluid data dynamics
Data is assuming an elevated level of importance both within and outside government. Public agencies are developing novel approaches to maximising the value of the data they hold, including appropriately sharing that data. Globally, the trend towards fluid, dynamic data is changing how data is being used and shared by governments and their partners in academia, non-profits, and the private sector. The Criminal Justice Operational Hub is an example of such an initiative in Ireland.
5. Government as a cognitive system
The Irish Government’s Civil Service Renewal 2030 Strategy recognises the importance of “insights-driven decision-making”. This reflects the trend globally where we are seeing governments combining evidence from past events and outcomes, real time information on current happenings, and using predictive analytics and simulation to anticipate events and likely outcomes before they occur, all to better inform policy and decision making.
6. Agile government
The pandemic has highlighted the need for fast, flexible, and mission-centric government, and many governments around the world have embraced the opportunity to show that they are up for the challenge. This agile imperative can be seen in many areas including policy making, regulation and service delivery. The “Still Here” initiative launched during the height of Covid-19 restrictions to protect and support victims of domestic abuse is an excellent example of such agility across the justice and other sectors.
7. Government’s broader role in cyber
The ransomware attack on the HSE earlier this year brought cyber security to the top of the political agenda in Ireland, but this has been an evolving threat for many years as cyber criminals become more ambitious. Governments’ role in cybersecurity is shifting and evolving, as they realise that they cannot function in isolation. In order to mount a proper national cyber defence, governments need to not only protect public networks, but also help to protect private networks and critical national infrastructure. To do so effectively they need to work and partner with other governments, academia and the private sector.
8. Inclusive, equity-centered government
As inclusion and equality issues come increasingly to the forefront in society, governments are focusing more on the underlying causes of systematic imbalances and seeking to address these issues. The solutions are incredibly broad ranging from education and awareness on diversity issues, enhanced broadband access, equal access to health and social, and diversity in public representation and governance.
9. Sustaining public trust in government
In the early part of 2020, trust in government in many parts of the world grew as people relied on governments to address a complex, global pandemic, but research suggests that such large gains in confidence are often quickly lost which was the case by January 2021 when trust in government had fallen globally, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Trust in government is a broad-based topic ranging from ethical behaviour of elected representatives and public officials, through to effective oversight, governance, and accountability for delivery of public services, and the protection of citizens including our private data. Trust in our justice system is a “non-negotiable”.
Shane Mohan is a Partner in Deloitte Consulting, and is the National Government and Public Services Leader in Ireland.
T: (01) 417 2543.