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Make the government smarter

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, October 29, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

As baby boomers age, demand for public services will increase. By 2025 -- 13 years from now when many of us will be living in retirement on fixed incomes -- consultancy Accenture estimates that government at all levels -- from municipalities on up -- will have to spend an additional $940 billion annually to pay for the services that an aging population will require.

This increase is coming at a time when governments are responding to the demand to control taxes by cutting back on personnel. In my neck of the woods that has already meant shortened hours, longer waits, fewer services and a general grumpiness among our public servants. Apparently I'm not the only one who has experienced this. Accenture surveyed people ages 50 to 64 and found that about 70 percent said they were dissatisfied with government services, with only 27 percent saying that they believed that government is capable of delivering services that meet their needs and expectations.

If you plan to rely soon on Social Security and Medicare, this is a significant retirement planning dilemma. Fortunately, Accenture has an easy fix. It calculates that if the level of public sector productivity rose just 1 percent, the entire problem -- about $1 trillion cumulative -- would go away.

I mentioned this to the guy behind the counter at the post office this morning, and he told me that I didn't know what I was talking about. That he was already being asked to do twice as much as he used to do, and how much could one body actually accomplish?

Using technology and the increased efficiency that it brings, public employees will be able to accomplish a lot more than they do now, says Brian Moran, global director for Accenture's Delivering Public Service for the Future program. "Shift the management model to reward productivity," says Moran. "Integrate good technology and self service into the process."

Moran doesn't see this as revolutionary. He says it simply requires bringing how the public sector operates more in line with what is already happening in the private sector. "It is only 1 percent. It is just getting on track a little bit," he says, "but it offers tremendous financial potential."

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October 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Yes, and lower subsudies for our senior citizens and disabled,has aided those cuts. You see the present administration,came into office at the end of January 2008. Jan.1 2008 was the last raise(cost of living)giving by the Bush administration,until this year coming.Jan.1 2009 through Jan.1 2012 there was no raise under the Obama adninstration. This coming year Jan.1 2013 there will be one,(Election year)but it will be the smallest since the early 1970s. talk about things getting harder. So come Nov.6 seniors and the disabled alike remember that.

October 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Civil government is incapable of "rewarding productivity" because they don't operate by supply and demand but by fiat. It is dependent on taxing productivity. If individuals have not planned by life insurance, investments or savings for their own elder years, then their families, and churches if necessary, are the institutions given by God to care for the elderly and sick or disabled. Civil gov't. should punish crime. It should not be in the mail-carrying or elder-care "businesses."

October 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm

correction 62 not 64.

October 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Why was this survey confined to age 50-64 ?Are this the age group that require more government services? Government employees have different pension and medical plans than that of the private sector for its retirees. Private sector employees can claim social security benefits at an age of 64 and up and medicare at 65 earliest.

October 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Local and federal red-tape (yep). For the majority, they will depend on social security and medicare, good luck in those twilight years. We cannot look to government to sustain our short-comings to have planned for ourselves or can we??

The basketball is coming out of the garden hose at 10,000 boomers a day, but no-one designed the net to catch the ball when it comes flying out.

The post office worker is correct, that's the typical corportate move...get more done with less people. But the theory is flawed. The Post Office hemmoraging how many millions of dollars everyday actually thinks their antiquated system can still compete in todays business environment.

I'm's later than we all think !!

October 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm

and by the way a lot of us Federal Retirees paid into the Retirement system for our pensions; some of us contributed to CSRS and SS; and we even paid a Medicare Tax since 1982. If you do not know your stuff do not write about it.

October 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Why are you picking on the Postal Service. It is not supported by the US Government as you seem to think and maybe you should be a carrier or clerk for a day to find out what their job is like before you point to the one service that does not cost the taxpayer any money with the cheapest service in the world in delivering your mail to your home 6 days a week!

October 30, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Federal workers contribute to both 401k and SS, are the most educated workforce in the u.s. and, even according to hacks at aei and heritage, have income discrimination at occupational levels . Everybody I know in government has a graduate degree, j.d., or m.d. Pay em now and/or pay em later.

October 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Unfortunately you have to be very careful with this. Even older citizens who once used computers and technology may lose this ability as they age (this has happened to my father). If the option to speak - or even meet - with a live person who can guide them through whatever problem needs addressing is lost, so will be the citizen.

Medicare Part D is a good example. Choosing the best plan, at the lowest cost, is a nightmare even for those of us who are computer-literate and can get comparison information via technology. My father has two daughters looking out for him - I am sad and depressed about the options for those who lack such assistance.

October 30, 2012 at 11:43 am

Yes, and bring the government pensions systems in line with the private sector as well.