Strategic Foresight in the Federal Government identifies approaches and practices for improving Federal foresight efforts and integrating foresight work into strategic planning and decision-making. It reports on a study sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of current foresight activities in 19 U.S. federal government agencies. EPA staff, working with the Institute for Alternative Futures, conducted semi-structured interviews with people involved with foresight in each agency.
We asked about what foresight methods they have tried, which methods seem most useful, and how far into the future they try to look. Then we asked detailed questions about things like where the foresight effort is located in the organization, how it is organized, who participates, how much money and staff time supports the effort, how leadership is involved, how results from the foresight process are integrated into annual and strategic planning, and how they relate to foresight efforts in other agencies.
The picture that emerges is of an executive branch where agencies are at very different “maturity levels” in their foresight efforts, but where much more is going on than is commonly understood and the best efforts are quite sophisticated. Insightful quotes from the interviews highlight important lessons of experience and the article concludes with a set of broad observations about the state of government foresight and the challenges and opportunities ahead.