1.Sorting out the NSA fiasco. We will need to sort out how we create new, transparent rules governing NSA’s cyber-intelligence mission without crippling our intelligence and counter-terrorism programs or denying the civil sector the ability to draw on the considerable and unique cybersecurity capabilities of NSA.
2. The 2014 mid-term elections. Despite the budget deal that runs through September 30, 2015, there will continue to be pressure on Representatives and Senators seeking reelection in districts and States where Tea Party is a force to prove their anti-big government and deficit reduction mettle. The need to raise the debt ceiling (NOT addressed in the budget deal) will create another opportunity to play out Act II (or is it Act III or IV) of the melodrama.
3. The aftermath of the Affordable Care Act roll-out. While the ideologues debate the merits of the ACA, the roll-out revealed once again the challenges that the government faces in managing large IT projects. The track record is not good. While legislation in the current Congress is unlikely, we need to start the work.
1. Data Sharing. With the NSA being held to a higher standard because of Snowden’s revealing NSA techniques, it will be more important than ever for agencies to share the information they do collect. Concerns include who has access to the data, sending and receiving securely.
2. Education. The long awaited brain drain of government retirees is now upon us, with many government personnel seeking retirement. There is much talk of a new generation of individuals coming up in the ranks, but they do not have some of the basic acquisition, project management and budget knowledge skills of those people leaving. Educating the new people, some of them at senior levels to avoid another Healthcare.gov will be a real challenge.
3. Budget. While congress has finally come to grips with providing a budget without government shutdowns like everything in Washington actions in one time period can have long term results. In 2014 the past shutdowns, sequestrations and budget cuts will begin to have an effect on the IT community and integrators.
Dov Zakheim Senior Adviser Center for Strategic and International Studies
1. There will be a major push to modernize the retirement and compensation systems. The budget deal has already addressed these issues in a minor way, but the long term challenge remains. The Commission on Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization is due to report in May, and it is to be expected that its report will prompt discussions on both Capitol Hill and the Pentagon.
2. The question of Iran will be in the forefront once the six months of the current interim agreement are reached. There will be renewed questions about the likelihood of an American military strike.
3. Tensions between China and Japan could continue, raising questions about the pace, and efficacy, of the US “pivot” to Asia.
Dan Blair President and CEO National Academy of Public Administration
1. Whither the civil service? With sequestration, furloughs, government shutdowns, coupled with increased pension contributions and paltry pay raises, will the federal civil service be able to deliver?
2. The need for increased collaborative government. With budget pressures continuing at the federal, state and local levels, how can all three levels of government better collaborate to deliver on programs for citizens?
3. A return to bipartisanship? Given the strong votes in the House and Senate on the budget accord, are we going to see a new “Era of Good Feeling? ” If so, will it last for a second, minute, hour, day, week or month(s)?
1. It’s an election year. Will foreign and defense policy be an issue? Yes, if the Iran talks fail to produce a firm, long-term agreement. Yes, if Syria falls into the hands of Islamist rebels, if the civil war stays bloody, if the chemical agreement does not work or is violated. Yes, if the Saudis keep sniping and Obama for indecision. Yes, if China keeps pushing on the edge of war in the Second Island Chain. Yes, if there is a major terrorist attack on the US. No, if these go the right way.
2. We are on the edge of a conceptual shift in Us foreign policy. American exceptionalism is dying a difficult death, as the US adjusts to not being the indispensable nation. The Asians will settle their own hash, mostly. Africans are doing their own peacekeeping. The Europeans don’t see much purpose for NATO after the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Middle East is in turmoil and nobody wants the US to fix it; the Saudis are the latest to complain about what they see as feckless US leadership. The American military is having to adjust to less and to patrolling the globe less frequently. This trend could accelerate this coming year.
3. It’s another budget year – will we have cliff-hangers through the year? No, it is likely to be one of the more quiet budget years since 2010. The “little deal” will turn out to be a big deal and nobody will want to go to the mattresses or over the edge on the debt ceiling or the budget. Power back to the appropriators, for a while, anyway. And a relief to civil servants, who paid nicely for the sequester madness. And a relief to voters, who are tired of a dysfunctional Congress.
2014 will be a year of tighter budgets and thinking about how to do what you do differently. Federal agencies tell industry they want new business models, innovation and better tools for understanding the data they collect. Tim Young, a principal at Deloitte Consulting and former deputy administrator at the Office of E-Government at the Office of Management and Budget, says the theme for his Top 3 for 2014 is “Rethinking Constraints, and Rethinking What’s Possible.” Click here for his full list of trends.
1. African Instability. The increasing instability flowing into and from Northern Nigeria has potentially dire regional and global consequences far in excess of our Pacific Pivot. More information
2. China/ADIZ escalation. While, as we’ve seen, the engagement will be formulaic as in the Arabian Gulf with Iran, it will increase in tempo and regularity. The addition of the new carrier increase the heat level from the friction and may serve as a not-so-Trojan horse for establishing control of the seas under the guise of monitoring the ADIZ. More information
3. Drones (potential developments). I don’t necessarily know what developers are going to accomplish next, but developments in recognition and processing show great potential and every year there are new innovations in the private sector. Google’s purchase of Boston Dynamics may be particularly fruitful.
4. Navy Ground-Up Innovation. Military innovation will hopefully lose its stigma as an oxymoron as the chain of command has shown real investment in deckplate innovations through efforts like the Athena Project and the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell. Zumwalt would be proud. More information
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 8-10 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006, and launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.