TFIC takes you deeper into the stories that are shaping our future. Seeing around corners or making sense of the collision of technology and society is hard. Context can help. Our writers and editors probe important questions about where we are going by first asking about where we have been and why. The show is produced through the joint editorial resources of Governing and Government Technology.
What Could Entrepreneurs and Government Do Together?
The co-author of a new book suggests that when technology, data and collective effort converge, government, the tech industry and higher education can tackle major challenges while bringing a new generation into the workforce.
Arun Gupta — a venture capitalist, academic and author — champions a union of government, academia and entrepreneurship to solve societal problems, stressing tech and data’s key roles in innovation and restoring trust. In an interview with Governing’s Carl Smith, Gupta sees government data as vital for improving services and tackling climate change and geopolitical strife, urging a move to fact-based debates for a sustainable future.
SHOW NOTES Here are the top takeaways from this episode:
Gupta wrote the book to address the growing desire among students for mission-oriented work and the need to harness optimism and innovation to solve societal issues through government collaboration. The book emphasizes the importance of technology in all organizations, including government, citing statistics about the age distribution of tech workers and the role of data in driving innovation and rebuilding trust between citizens and government. Gupta advocates for modernizing infrastructure to attract top talent to government, highlighting the need for interdisciplinary opportunities in academia and partnerships between the public and private sectors at the state level. He discusses the significance of utilizing government data to enhance services and user experiences, stressing the potential for data-driven approaches to address major societal challenges such as climate change and geopolitical conflicts. Gupta encourages a shift in the culture of debate toward facts and data, emphasizing the role of collective effort in creating a better, safer and more sustainable society in the face of existential threats. Related link to the book referenced in the episode:
Arun Gupta, Gerard George and Thomas J. Fewer, Venture Meets Mission: Aligning People, Purpose, and Profit to Innovate and Transform Society, Stanford Business Books, 2024. Our editors used GPT-4 to summarize the episode in bullet form to help create the show notes.
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Medicate, Mitigate and Rejuvenate: An Agenda for States in 2024
Mental health, climate and workforce are at the core of a complex cluster of issues confronting lawmakers in this year.
Legislators are under growing public pressure to address mental health challenges, implement climate policies and stabilize public pensions, while also dealing with workforce shortages. And those are just the top of the list of issues vying for attention. Even with a relatively healthy budget situation this year, it will still be a delicate balance.On this episode of the podcast, Alan Greenblatt, Jared Brey, Zina Hutton and Carl Smith return to complete the discussion of Governing’s Issues to Watch.
SHOW NOTES Here are the top takeaways from this episode:Mental Health Legislation and Funding
Increased cases of mental illness, especially among youth, have prompted legislation in several states to regulate social media use and increase mental health education in schools. Efforts aim to move away from solely relying on policing for mental health crises, emphasizing instead earlier identification and support for mental health challenges before they escalate. The surge in mental health issues increases demand for more funding, but states are struggling to find novel and sustainable sources to meet the need. Public Health
To counterbalance high post-pandemic attrition rates, public health agencies are employing community health workers, providing family members with incentives to provide in-home care and seeking expanded Medicare coverage. Unwinding pandemic-expanded coverage remains a priority. States are focusing on controlling health-care costs and curbing excesses in prescription drug pricing. Despite funding reductions, states continue to enhance state-level data systems and push for a potential national data system for better coordination during crises. Climate and Energy Policies
States are now potential drivers for climate progress (despite federal challenges) after disappointing COP28 results that refused to phase out fossil fuels. The implementation of climate-related provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act has been slow even though they come with significant funding, especially that focused on hydrogen hubs, contingent on emissions and clean energy usage. On renewable energy, there is a growing recognition of the need for increased transmission capacity to utilize existing renewable energy resources effectively. International Affairs and State-Level China Policies
There is growing hostility toward China reflected in state-level bans on Chinese-owned apps like TikTok and restrictions on Chinese land ownership. Local governments feel pressure to engage in international issues despite their limited jurisdiction, reflecting a broader trend to nationalize politics. Public-Sector Workforce and Pension Reforms
Efforts to diversify the public-sector workforce continue by targeting Gen Z, adjusting job requirements for skill-based hiring and providing internships to bridge skill gaps. Some states grapple with underfunded pensions, leading to potential cuts impacting education and health care, while others explore riskier investment ventures to improve funding. States are focused on maintaining stability by stress-testing public pensions for potential financial risks and preparing for future uncertainties in pension funding. Related link to the stories referenced in the episode:
Governing’s Biggest Issues to Watch in 2024 Columbia Law Center & Climate School, Inflation Reduction Act Tracker Our editors used ChatGPT 4.0 to summarize the episode in bullet form to help create the show notes.
Listen or subscribe for free on YouTube or the podcast app of your choice — Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audacy and Audible.
For Those Following Along at Home
As legislatures in 37 states are back in session this month, with another 9 set to open before April, law makers face a daunting set of challenges. Budget prospects have improved modestly but tax tensions remain as law makers deal with complex demands to deal with crises in housing and drug overdoses. Their hoppers are also filled with bills to address criminal justice reforms, transportation funding, child tax credits, post-pandemic workforce dynamics and renewed calls for school choice and parental rights.Governing editor Alan Greenblatt and writers Jared Brey, Zina Hutton and Carl Smith join the podcast to discuss these issues and more.SHOW NOTESHere are the top takeaways from this episode:AI Policy Evolution and Concerns
Rapid advances in artificial intelligence outstrip the ability to competently regulate. Concerns about misinformation, the embedding of implicit biases and workforce displacement are catalysts for legislation at the state and federal levels, focusing on usage boundaries and deepfake controls. Anticipated regulation aims at managing deepfake generation, especially around election content, with a focus on data literacy to combat misinformation. Challenges persist in addressing AI-generated hallucinations due to insufficient frameworks and fact-checking protocols. California leads in privacy and bias regulations, impacting AI application in healthcare and job sectors. Budgets and Taxation
States see modest budget increases, drawing on pandemic surpluses for tax cuts and infrastructure investments, but with an eye to long-term fiscal sustainability. Tensions between revenue growth for programs and tax reductions pose challenges as states grapple with budget surpluses. Transportation Funding Challenges
Funding public transit faces hurdles as commuting patterns change in post-pandemic workplaces, prompting some jurisdictions to consider taxing high earners to support public services. Child Tax Credits and Labor Force Impact
States extend child tax credits to mitigate federal program expirations, aiming to alleviate poverty but it has raised concerns about workforce participation. Education & School Choice Dynamics
Parental dissatisfaction is driving school choice initiatives, affecting public education funding and stirring parental rights discussions. Media literacy legislation addresses gaps in students' abilities to navigate and critically assess online information sources, which are seen as vital for future academic and professional success. Drug Overdose Crisis and Criminal Justice
Illicit fentanyl is driving the recent increase in US drug overdose deaths, prompting debates between punitive approaches and medical treatment for substance abuse disorder. Polarized viewpoints in criminal justice reform lean towards tougher enforcement, influenced by political rhetoric and public sentiment. Governing’s editors and writers round out the discussion of the remaining issues to watch – including healthcare, mental health, climate and energy policies and the nationalization of politics during a presidential election year – on the next episode of the podcast, which drops on January 31st.
Related link to the stories referenced in the episode:
Governing’s Biggest Issues to Watch in 2024 Our editors used ChatGPT 4.0 to summarize the episode in bullet form to help create the show notes.
Gov Tech's Moment with Private Equity
GovTech100 companies are likely to have an outsized role in making government better. Many now come with deep pockets thanks to investments from private equity.
Government Technology's ninth annual list of gov tech companies that are changing the way government works comes with an added twist — the injection of large sums of capital through the private equity market. Agencies are attracted to the promise of increased capacity and agility but are not always prepared for the disruptions that come from these increasingly well-funded players.Private equity's bullish embrace of gov tech hinges on its recession-resistant allure and pivotal role in digitizing the way governments work, seeing opportunities in closing the innovation gap between the private and public sectors in delivering services and optimizing operations. This year’s GovTech100 features companies with the majority of their revenue coming from sales to government and reflects a diverse mix of established names and newcomers, like CivicEye and Versaterm. This episode features Government Technology Associate Editor Ben Miller, who helped curate this year’s list, and Thad Reuter, who wrote the cover story on the impact of private equity on the gov tech market.SHOW NOTESHere are the top takeaways from this episode:Gov Tech's Appeal to Private Equity:
Resilience: Gov tech's perceived recession-proof nature and essential role in providing digital services for governments contribute to its attractiveness to private equity. Digital Transformation: Increased cloud adoption and the shift from analog to digital processes in government services make gov tech an appealing investment. Factors Driving Gov Tech's Fertility:
Software-as-a-Service Growth: The expansion of SaaS and cloud-based services contributes to gov tech's appeal for private equity investors. 'Amazon Effect': Consumer expectations for quick, efficient services influence gov tech companies to emulate Amazon's one-click model. Modernization Needs: The push to bring governments into the 21st century creates ample opportunities for growth and investment in gov tech. Challenges in Emulating Amazon's Efficiency:
Customer vs. Constituent Service: Varied expectations and differing service models pose challenges in replicating Amazon's efficiency in a government context. Limitations of Consumer-Based Models: The unique role of government in serving all constituents, regardless of choice, presents limitations in mirroring corporate models. Private Equity's Focus on End-to-End Platforms:
Investment in Growth: Private equity's interest in developing end-to-end platforms drives investments in companies like Accela and Granicus. Potential for Similar Growth: Notable growth in certain companies indicates potential for similar patterns in the gov tech sector. GovTech 100 — Mix of Established and New Entrants:
Shift in Focus: This GovTech100 list emphasizes emerging startups and serial entrepreneurs committed to public service innovation. Notable Newcomers: Public safety entities like CivicEye, Fieldware and Versaterm, alongside niche-focused companies, join the GovTech100. Engaging with Gov Tech Startups:
Disruptive Solutions: Startups bring innovative solutions and responsiveness to pressing government needs. Potential for Uncovering New Approaches: Engaging with startups might reveal new perspectives and methods to address long-standing issues. Anticipating Evolution in Gov Tech Companies:
Flexibility and Adaptability: Agencies engaging with startups should anticipate shifts in focus, offerings and potential expansions as these companies evolve through investment cycles. Evolution in Offerings: Growth might lead to changes in services and expansions, offering both challenges and opportunities for agencies. Our editors used ChatGPT 4.0 to summarize the episode in bullet form to help create the show notes.
The Year's Biggest Stories in GovTech
There was nothing easy about it, nor was it a return to normal after the disruptive years of the pandemic, but state and local governments found ways to hold their own against persistent threats and challenges in cybersecurity and workforce issues in 2023. They also continued campaigns to refresh old IT systems and even found ways forward for urban mobility and public transit. Government Technology editors and writers — Lauren Kinkade, Zack Quaintance, Skip Descant and Jule Pattison-Gordon — joined the podcast hosts to make sense of the year that was.
SHOW NOTES Here are the top 10 takeaways from this episode:
California is leading electrification with a notable rise in electric vehicle adoption; Transit systems in large cities across the country continue to struggle with commuter pattern shifts as new work patterns evolve after COVID-19; The face of micromobility changed in 2023 with a shift from city-sanctioned e-scooter programs while e-bikes gain traction due to safety and technology advancements; Cities are focusing on digital strategies for curb management to make best use of civic infrastructure as private-sector demand for access increases to support the rise of delivery tech, including drone delivery services and tailored vehicle choices; The nature of government security challenges is evolving from traditional ransomware to double extortion threats even as internal debates continue about handling demands for extortion payments; Legacy system modernization and broadband expansion are getting fresh looks in order to enhance government service delivery to residents and businesses that cannot be done without unlocking the unique capacity of aging big iron; Government faces persistent workforce challenges, particularly in tech roles, as it works to meet challenges of increasing service demands and technology advancements, all of which puts a premium on potential expansion of successful re-skilling models to other states; Digital equity is having a moment but there are concerns over the sustainability of these equity initiatives once initial momentum wanes; Speaking of having a moment, the panel noted the rapid rise of generative AI beginning in the second quarter of the year to dominate discussions about the future of government and education; and, Looking forward, the writers and editors identified a number of sleeper stories that will likely demand more attention in the year ahead, including the shifts in cyber crime demographics, training for local police on handling digital evidence and the real-world impacts of long-promised major infrastructure projects due to roll out in 2024. Related links to the stories referenced in the episode:
On the Rebound: Micromobility Ridership Continues to Climb Cities Experiment With Pedal-Powered Delivery Policies Seattle Partners on Curb Data Specification Project As the Cybersecurity Workforce Grows, So Does Need Federal Government Offers 4 Steps to Thwart Cyber Attackers Social Media Changes Are Impacting Government Messaging What’s New in Digital Equity: FCC Closer to Restoring Net Neutrality When You Change Social Platforms, Who Controls Your Data? Our editors used ChatGPT 4.0 to summarize the episode in bullet form to help create the show notes.
Countdown to '24: What to Expect from the Election
This time next year, Americans will be casting votes in the 2024 general election. State and local races (and issues) will take place in the long shadow of a carefully watched presidential rematch.
The 2024 general election follows in a tradition of modern elections dating back to 1964 that are declared (or decried) as the most important of our time. In this episode that comes one year before ballots are counted, longtime political observer and Governing senior writer Alan Greenblatt joins TFIC for a wide-ranging discussion of what to expect, and who to watch, in the 365-day countdown.
SHOW NOTES Here are the top 10 takeaways from this episode:
“Most Important Election of Our Time”: Variations of the phrase have become common claims in recent presidential cycles. The 2024 election may well have a legitimate claim on the title. Its origins date back to the 1964 contest between Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater, the first election in modern times to be called the most important of our time. Red, Blue and a Side of Purple: The Biden-Trump rematch at the top of the ticket in 2024 would emphasize the extreme polarization between Republicans and Democrats in a high-stakes election cycle. Abortion rights and crime remain strong rallying points for voters. Downstream Effects: The 2024 presidential election will influence state and local races, for good or for ill. Prospect of Violence: Having been denied a completely peaceful transfer of power in 2021, the Jan. 6 Capitol attack casts a long shadow over the 2024 cycle. Exodus of Election Officials and Polling Place Workers: In some states, up to a third of election workers have quit — some to retirement, others to avoid threats and harassment. Despite concerns of violence or intimidation at polling places, even recent history suggests a general resilience of the electoral system. Poll Watchers Increasingly Common: As the number of polling place workers decline, recent cycles have seen a rise in the number of third-party poll watchers. Vote-by-Mail or Vote-from-Home: Now a standard in a number of Democratic states, vote-by-mail overcame suspicion during the 2020 cycle, Republicans now show openness toward voting by mail as it caters to voters' preferences. State and Local Races: 2024 comes with pivotal governor races in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont and Indiana. Legislative majorities are likely to remain stable, because of low competition levels, and the prediction that the year ending in four will be relatively stable due to effects of redistricting. The Rise of Uncontested Races: Approximating 40 percent of races are going uncontested in recent cycles, which can be read alternatively as a decline in voter choice (and, by extension, democracy) or the pragmatic matter strategic resource management by the parties. Third-Party Prospects: The existing political system favors the incumbent parties and resists third-party entrance, never mind success. Voters may not like the dominant parties but avoid third parties, mostly driven by fears of a spoiler effect, but that is unlikely to stop independent presidential bids (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornell West) and the No Labels Unity ticket in 2024. Bonus Takeaway: The No. 4: Alan tells us, "In particular in 2024, this is a little bit wonky, but the year ending in four tends to be the most stable because you've had redistricting. So your first elections mainly were in the year ending in two. You had a lot of turnover because you had incumbents drawn into new districts and the like."Related Links to the stories referenced in the episode:
Progressives Increasingly Challenged in Local Politics A Rare Successful Red State Democrat Is America Really Ready for a Third Party? Less Politics Is Local: States Get Increasingly Aggressive About Pre-Emption Taking the Temperature of American Democracy Subscribe to Governing's biweekly newsletter, Inside Politics: State & Local with Alan Greenblatt with one easy click.
Thoughtful, nuanced, on-point
Jenkinson always provides fascinating insights. I appreciate the breadth of the topics he considers and how he brings both the past and the present into clearer focus. No one has quite the same vision as Jenkinson and I really think everyone should hear his perspective.
The Rational Discourse We all Crave
Clay brings his talent for discourse to bear as thought provoking discussions explore the issues of the day in-depth and intelligently.
Breadth and Depth
Intelligent, relevant and highly approachable. This isn’t the shallow end of public discourse - no yelling and screaming. This is the deep end, where it’s best to swim with a friend. Clay Jenkinson is that friend we all need to challenge our thinking. We need this podcast….