During the past two years of the global pandemic, the public sector has played a larger and more crucial role in people’s daily lives than at any time during this century. As world leaders prepare to announce the end of the health emergency, governments have begun to weigh a return to pre-pandemic, business-as-usual policies, programs, and service delivery. But deepening geopolitical tensions, increasing economic uncertainty, and more frequent climate-driven disasters mean societies are facing more, not fewer, systemic risks and crises.

To help business and society navigate this next great wave of global change, the public sector must gird itself for an uncertain future by strengthening its talent pool, maintaining trusted relationships with customers, and retaining hard-won pandemic-era competencies and capacity. But doing so means wrestling with unprecedented external pressures and internal challenges.

Crucially, 2023 will be a year in which:

Governmentwide Anywhere Work Adoption Will Slow, Not Stop, Talent Losses

The public sector embraced anywhere work mostly as a temporary measure for the pandemic. Now, 67% of global public sector employees expect they’ll have to return to the office, according to Forrester’s Future Of Work Survey, 2022. However, government employees want flexible work arrangements and are willing to agency-hop or simply jump to the private sector to find this flexibility. In 2023, the public sector will have to do more to stem the tide of employee loss to the private sector, especially to companies with great employee experience (EX) programs and those that now offer nonmonetary compensation and benefits that meet or exceed those of the public sector.

Predictions 2023 Public Sector: 15% of the OECD will adopt governmentwide anywhere work

A Nation Will Suffer An Insider Attack On Mission-Critical Data That Will Be Unnoticed For Weeks

Historically, security leaders have emphasized the need for data confidentiality, but they are now facing a new battle over data integrity. In a data integrity attack, malicious actors don’t steal or ransom data — they silently tamper with, corrupt, and manipulate the data on which insights-driven organizations depend. In 2023, an insider attack on government data integrity will result from employees’ growing disquiet with government responses to international issues such as the war in Ukraine or domestic policies tied to social issues like reproductive rights or cost-of-living pressures. The perpetrator will likely see themselves as a modern-day Robin Hood who alters data to benefit the vulnerable by increasing benefits to disadvantaged people. However, the attacker could also pursue nefarious outcomes like manipulating data that informs justice, budget, or public policy decisions.

Government CX Quality Will Not Improve, Despite Increased Funding And Executive Support

Our data shows that 38% of government workers say the person responsible for their organization’s CX program reports to a chief customer officer (CCO). That’s good news, since CX transformation requires executive support and the budget that goes with it. But in 2022, few government organizations with CCOs improved CX quality. Some of these organizations even declined, despite the imprimatur of political leaders, such as the CX Executive Order in the United States. The problem? Few public sector CCOs use their clout to make the changes that matter most: implementing journey-centric approaches and replacing archaic processes, legacy systems, and bureaucratic decision-making.

For the full set of our public sector predictions, Forrester clients can access the complete report here. You can also request a guidance session if you have questions about this research or want to explore how your organization can use these predictions to help ensure mission success. If you aren’t yet a client, you can download our complimentary Predictions guide, which covers our top predictions for 2023. Get additional complimentary resources, including webinars, on the Predictions 2023 hub.