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Blogs / ICMA | blog / Is there a reset button?

Is there a reset button?


Over time, governments slowly acquire new tools to respond to the issues of the day.

"That system doesn't provide you with a report that meets your needs. We will need to invest in another software to do that." How many of us have heard this narrative when sitting in a council meeting with some of your department staff? The meeting presenter goes on to a say that if we had a better system then we would be able to produce better information.

If the current system cannot produce better information, why did we invest in it in the first place? Are we stuck with it?

Someone had a great idea. They saw a presentation at a conference of a system that seemed like it would address the city government's problems. So they bought it. It was slightly customized to meet that government's needs and then they used it more and found many shortfalls and many benefits to using it. Because the initial investment was for a reasonable amount, it is difficult to justify a new budget expenditure for a replacement system. In addition, most replacement systems have historically been proprietary and won't very easily receive the information retained in the old system.

Match this predicament with the new atmosphere of technology innovation. The new wave says that technology is meant to grow and should look different in two years than it looks now. This creates a different environment where maybe things created right now aren't meant to last forever? Maybe current investments are meant to be small, to encourage risks and innovative thinking and only attack one problem. When they've run their course, they're meant to be replaced by something better for a new nominal cost.

There are obviously risks with this shift in technological thinking over the years, but it's a conversation worth having. Similar to the need for transformative technological solutions is the need to reenvension government service provision as a whole. Although there is also no reset button on government services, it is useful to analyze all processes simultaneously with or before finding tech solutions. This will give confidence in the tech solutions chosen because they won't be investments in the newest thing just for the sake of 'progress.' If the new age of tech solutions is for shorter term effectiveness, the same behavior should be applied to the government processes to which the tech solutions relate, thus creating a more innovative and responsive government.

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