The US federal government is the world’s largest enterprise, with $3.7 trillion in outlays, $2.5 trillion in revenues, and 2.1 million civilian workers. It is also the most complex, operating in every sector of the world’s largest economy, in every country of the world, and in every possible setting: markets, technology development, social programs, basic science, and much, much more.
A behemoth of this size requires goals, plans, strategies, and budgets that look forward for years, even decades. This is especially true in our era, when unprecedented shifts in technology, demography, the world economy, and the physical environment require deep structural changes in our economic and social life. Old skills and sectors are obsolete. The energy, health, and education systems require large-scale overhauls. And yet we operate almost blindly, month by month, fiscal cliff by fiscal cliff, without any clear pathway ahead.
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