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5 modernizations transforming government for a lasting legacy

Data analytics and AI can reimagine government service, increasing efficiency and enabling stronger connections with those being served.

In brief
  • Transforming government agencies to keep humans at the center as they evaluate digital transformation will be critical to earning buy-in from their teams.
  • Organizations need to strategically examine the role data analytics and GenAI can play in their operating model or risk falling behind their peers.
  • GenAI gives support teams room to focus on the objectives of grant applicants, rather than the bureaucracy of the application process.

Digital technology such as generative AI (GenAI) has the power to make life easier in countless ways, and is already doing so across every industry. The ability of the government sector to integrate these tools and resources to support the needs of their constituents, and to keep humans at the center as they do it, could have a transformative effect on how people view their leaders. It could redefine the meaning of the words “government service.”

This article will examine five modernizations that are pivotal in transforming government to make the biggest impact on communities, agencies and workforces. 

1. Tech modernization 

2. Data analytics and insights

3. Infrastructure and transportation

4. Grants modernization

5. HR transformation

Men with a laptop in data center

Chapter 1

Transforming government with tech modernization

Technology creates a world of opportunity for government agencies willing to identify the tools that best suit their needs.

As an organization embarks on modernizing its technology infrastructure, there needs to be alignment between the existing infrastructure and the mission of the business, as well as between the business and the IT team. There needs to be dialogue across different teams and different leaders in the organization to make sure everyone understands what’s in place, what’s not working and what is needed to strengthen the organization. 


In some cases, a CIO will make decisions that they think are best for the ecosystem. But if that decision is not informed, it’s only going to partially meet the needs of the business — in a best-case scenario. The more likely scenario is pressure builds to move forward with what’s already been done, which leads to organization being trapped. Resources continue to be committed to something that may not be the best solution for the organization and it becomes that much harder to reach its full potential. 


To avoid this fate, organizations need to be willing to take the time to ask more questions. Asking people what they like and don’t like is critical as technology is being assessed. Talk to the people who use the systems. Ask them what their least favorite part of their job is. It’s not about forcing them to talk about things they don’t like. Rather, it’s digging into the areas of the organization that aren’t working and beginning the process of finding solutions. The user experience is critical. And in most cases, it’s not that hard to get people to talk about things they don’t like. 


The next step is learning more about what employees like to do, or would prefer to be doing if they no longer had to do those other things. This should be an open forum with few, if any, limitations on what can be proposed. The idea is to explore what’s on their minds and see what’s possible. Some ideas may not be feasible, but the opportunity to brainstorm and make suggestions in a free and open manner reinforces the notion that IT consulting is not about replacing people and taking away their jobs. It’s about enabling people to do work that is more meaningful, more enjoyable and ultimately more valuable to the organization. 


Tech modernization doesn’t have to cost a lot of money nor does it have to be done all at once. Instead of one massive package, organizations can start small and make incremental changes. Platforms should be designed with an end in mind, but with latitude to make changes along the way as knowledge is gained. 


Bottom line, technology should not be changed simply for the sake of implementing new technology. It’s taking the time to understand on a deeper level how different digital tools can help an organization improve outcomes and achieve its mission. For example, GenAI is evolving exponentially and businesses across every industry are scrambling to figure out how it should fit into their business model. But it should be less about how quickly a business can adopt GenAI and much more about how GenAI can help that business achieve key objectives. 


It starts with taking the time to talk to employees at all levels of the organization. Get a holistic perspective of what works, what doesn’t and what people value most in the organization. Build a strategy that keeps humans at the center and seeks to empower talent. When there is alignment between talent and technology, other aspects of the operating model should more easily fall into place. 

Global research woman screen

Chapter 2

Transforming government with data analytics and insights

Data maturity is an important piece in building a data analytics model that conveys trust, accuracy and reliability.

Data analytics is growing at an incredibly rapid pace. Every company is at a different point in its data maturity journey. With that in mind, one of the first things an organization can do is conduct an assessment that can inform where it is today, and gaps that needs to be addressed to get where they would like to be. Revisit primary goals and missions, and consider how data could help guide the organization deliver on those services for constituents. 

Organizations that don’t believe they are ready or prepared to fully embrace data analytics still need to begin the process. Transformation is a word that is often overused, but in the case of data analytics, it seems to be a good descriptor of what’s happening. GenAI could change how organizations across every industry functionally operate. It’s a new paradigm and now is the time to learn what it can do. 

For government leaders, it’s a guarantee that employees are using the latest GenAI technology. The only way to really understand what these tools do well and what their limitations are is to experiment with them. Use them to solve personal tasks like building an itinerary for a trip or buying a car before moving into work-related jobs. The only limits are an individual’s creativity and imagination. From an organizational perspective, leaders have a responsibility to conduct proper vetting on new technology before moving to incorporate it into their operating model.  

As this process is advancing, it’s important to have the right level of stakeholder engagement, especially when it comes to executive sponsorship. Team leaders who are doing an assessment and want it to be more meaningful than a PowerPoint deck that is never seen again need a champion who can be an advocate for the new technology once it’s been vetted. Without that supporter, assessment can be very introspective, but unlikely to lead to tangible, meaningful change. 

Advocates do not need to be department heads or people who have high-level leadership roles in the organization. It’s actually more important to have a cross-section of people to serve these roles, a mix of leaders and people on the front lines who can speak to how different tools impact the customer experience. 

One of the things people tend to misread about the importance of being a data-driven organization is the fact that people are going to be more important than ever in the new world order. For an organization to have any hope of leveraging capabilities of tools like ChatGPT, they are going to need to have an AI-ready data estate. Their entire ecosystem has to be prepared because if their data isn’t accurate or has sampling bias or algorithms that are not tested, that organization won’t get meaningful, valid results. 

At the same time, the rise of data analytics will open the door to new opportunities for worker of all types. Instead of spending hours, days and weeks compiling data and research for reports that then allow them to work toward helping the clients they serve, tools like GenAI will be able to provide those reports in an instant, providing more time and more bandwidth to serve those clients directly.  

Every profession will be impacted by the transformation of data analytics. Now is the time to learn how systems work and become data literate. Those who wait will only be further behind as the transformation picks up speed.

Charging of an electric car

Chapter 3

Transforming government with infrastructure and transportation

The world is changing and agencies charged with managing response strategies in their fields need reliable data to make informed decisions.

The confluence of agendas and events of 2019–2021 has created a new, more urgent vision for infrastructure in the United States.  Agencies have inherited a greater responsibility to address economic recovery, climate and resilience, equity, and the ubiquity of technologies like broadband and electric vehicle (EV) charging. In this segment, we’ll focus on two infrastructure areas that will require generational modernization: transportation and water.

Advisor discussing plan of investment

Chapter 4

Transforming government with Grants modernization

Effective grant-making organizations use storytelling to demonstrate impact and show the connection between investments and outcomes.

The level of investment in grant programs is unprecedented, creating an opportunity to improve the way grant funding is administered and analyzed to drive decision-making. Grant programs have existed for decades, and grants are now the single-largest method of procurement in the federal government.

A number of public initiatives have specifically lent themselves toward being addressed by grant funding, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Both of these pieces of legislation have components designed to become projects, and be managed from a performance perspective on a long-term basis, which is the fundamental construct of grants.

Add in climate change and sustainability, as well as social and digital equity initiatives, all of which target government entities that are familiar with grant making and grant management, and it becomes easier to see how grants have emerged as a significant method of moving funding and producing public impact for a variety of programs.

The growth of grant funding has created a dynamic in which some entities are more practiced than others at identifying, applying for and receiving grant funding. These applicants have become trusted partners because they know how to fill out the forms, answer the right questions from the grantor and successfully report on their progress, building confidence in their stewardship of public funds. While the current system works well for these organizations, it poses a challenge to those who aren’t as experienced at applying for grants.

In some cases, these are smaller entities that don’t have the same resources to build effective grant application mechanisms. However, it’s that smaller stature that often makes their need for grant funding even more critical. These organizations don’t have a lot of overhead, which means they don’t have personnel dedicated to researching and applying for grants. They typically have lean budgets and what they lack in administrative capacity, they make up for in persistence, determination and direct connectivity to the communities they serve. Small, local organizations can use grant funding to make a more tangible, specific impact on issues meaningful to their communities.

Impact must be the North Star for any grant-making organization. How does this grant empower the recipient, and give them the tools to make a difference through their work? What goals can be achieved through grant funding? The ability of grant-making organizations to work backward and design modernization efforts around impact can then inform decisions made throughout the modernization journey.

Technology upgrades often begin with automation, which provides two benefits to grant-making organizations. It creates an opportunity to streamline the application process for organizations who routinely apply for grants and can do it without much help. It then allows those resources to be redirected to applicants who aren’t as experienced or who are new to the process and need more guidance. It’s not changing the rules. Rather, it’s changing the process to give more organizations a chance to secure needed grant funding.

Modernization can give organizations more visibility into their grant-making efforts. It’s about defining impact, proving the impact through data-driven measurables and sharing the story of the impact with both internal and external stakeholders. It’s using technology to build a platform that can gather data and support workflows in a simple, clean and traceable manner.

Grant-making organizations that can define their data model, establish meaningful key performance indicators and create a program that aligns with the goals and objective of their grant program will create a structure that is more usable and more reachable for organizations that can benefit from grant funding.

There will be challenges in the transition. Grant-making organizations are under a lot of scrutiny to account for every dollar and justify the value being provided. Watchdog groups are always on the lookout for inconsistencies in how organizations use their funds. Those spending money on modernization have to be able to draw a straight line to the value of that modernization.

This is where data is pivotal. Organizations that are skilled at using data to tell stories of the impact of grant funding should be able to do the same to illustrate the value of a more modern, data-driven operating model. 

The key is leveraging the value of technology and automation and maximizing the opportunity to strengthen human support and connectivity. Automation can eliminate time-wasting churn and bureaucracy in favor of teaching, coaching and support to those who are new to the grant space. As the volume of grant applications continues to grow, organizations need a better way to manage the process. Automation and technology provide that alternative.

Overhead view of coworkers in discussion while walking up office stairs

Chapter 5

Transforming government with HR transformation

HR departments are still adapting to the changing dynamics of the workforce in a post-pandemic world.

When considering an employment opportunity, job seekers look for optionality in developing their careers. They want to be part of a rich and diverse team with a strong sense of purpose and to make a positive difference through their work. Many HR organizations have job architectures that are inflexible and often fail to demonstrate a connection to the mission and purpose of the organization. 

In addition to this market disconnect, HR leaders have been encountering disconnects between HR and the rest of their organization that have emerged since the pandemic. Part of this can be tied back to alignment between people, processes and technologies, but the expectations around the mission of HR have broadened beyond those traditionally identified with the function.  

For example, in the current climate, while chief human resource officers (CHROs) focus on the “front door” challenges many remain concerned about succession planning, which in some cases has morphed into concern regarding business continuity, and the development of risk mitigation strategies for a potential mass retirement. The CHRO now needs to broaden their traditional role to embrace, perhaps for the first time, enterprise risk management.  

These are just some of the problems that often must be addressed before CHROs can advance their initiatives. 

The world has changed in many significant ways since the start of the pandemic. It can often be challenging to get a good read on what’s happening more broadly when you are consumed daily by operational demands. External consultants often play an important role in helping leaders re-envision their HR function. Outsiders offer a fresh perspective and insights gained from working across the breadth of their sector. The key is to establish a solid working relationship based on trust and value between the HR leader, whose expert knowledge of their organization blends with the consultant’s sector insights and familiarity with key trends. 

Should an organization’s leadership conclude that nothing short of a complete transformation of the HR function is in order, we advocate establishing and maintaining a focus on the employee experience throughout, thinking like entrepreneurs as you mentally deconstruct your organization into functional units and consider how each one could be reassembled in a new synergistic model designed to achieve strategic objectives. In a transformation, the amount of work that can, and should, be undertaken prior to engaging with an enterprise resource planning vendor is considerable and often makes the difference between a profound victory and a heavily qualified “success.” It is only when those elements of inspired and purposeful design come together to deliver more than the sum of their parts that real transformation is achieved. 


There is an opportunity for transforming government agencies to become facilitators and not obstacles to progress across a wide spectrum of use cases. Data and technology hold the key to this new paradigm in which constituents view governmental entities as support mechanisms to advance their respective causes forward.

Savvy organizations can gain insights from both knowledge and information. They can see needs on a deeper level, and connect the dots to activate meaningful solutions. Data can improve every decision, process and interaction. It learns as it goes. It anticipates, it collaborates and perhaps most importantly, humans are at its center.

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