From the beginning, governments and technologies have been heavily intertwined. Over the past hundred years, governmental involvement with technology innovation and adoption has steadily increased. The US government’s history with technology can serve as an important roadmap for future insights.
Federally-Funded Research and Innovation
Throughout the 20th century, the government’s adoption of technology was limited to investment and sponsorship of private-sector innovations. After World War II, the federal government began to sponsor research in national security, industry, and health. It wasn’t until the 1950s (and the space race) that the government began to take innovations in computing and software more seriously.
Optimization and Improvement
Technology in all levels of government entered a new era with the widespread adoption and availability of computing technology in the 1990s. With over 15% of the workforce working in the public sector, governments began searching for ways to optimize and increase efficiency. A great example of computer technologies impacting local governments was the ability of electronic tolls to supplement in-person toll booth collectors, leading to increased revenues, lower costs, and improved traffic conditions.
Technology’s widespread adoption has been taken a step further in the 21st century with nationwide initiatives designed to further enhance technical expertise, increase cybersecurity efforts, and upgrade infrastructure. Programs like the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) help federal entities modernize their IT infrastructure while FedRAMP certifies software like Microsoft 365 to meet strict security standards.
Looking to the Future
In the next decade, we expect to see an increased focus in the public sector on optimization, artificial intelligence, and big data. For example, many key public functions in Colorado like Medicaid eligibility checks are moving to “the cloud”, allowing better accessibility and security for programs like O365.
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