GAO Launches New Unit to Prepare Congress for the Future

Fona/Shutterstock.com

The Center for Strategic Foresight held its first conference, focused on two problems closer to the present than the future: deep space and deepfakes.

The Government Accountability Office was set up to advise the legislative branch on ongoing issues at federal agencies, including management, policy, money and tech. But now, a new center will help GAO warn Congress about the future and head off incoming problems before they arrive.

The new Center for Strategic Foresight, part of the agency’s Office of Strategic Planning and External Liaison, held its first meeting back in January and launched its first foray into the future at a conference Tuesday. The new center is designed to bolster GAO’s “ability to identify, monitor and analyze emerging issues and their implications,” the agency told Congress when the center was established.

“More specifically, the managing director of SPEL and other senior decision-makers at GAO will be able to call upon the center’s cadre of experts—the center’s ‘fellows’—for insight and feedback on how to most effectively and strategically plan GAO’s work,” according to the charter establishing the center.

That feedback will include providing insight on emerging trends and managing forward-looking federal programs, as well as advice on GAO’s internal strategic planning and the methods it uses to analyze new technologies and processes.

“At GAO, we’re committed to thinking strategically about the future in order to meet Congress’ evolving information needs,” head of GAO and U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said Tuesday. “The Center for Strategic Foresight helps to keep us agile by encouraging creative and critical thinking on the latest trends facing government and society. Our goal is to stay focused on Congress’ top policy priorities and to help prepare policymakers for future challenges.”

The conference focused on two future technologies that are fast becoming more reality than science fiction: Deep space, specifically “the management of space policy by government and the private sector;” and deepfakes, “synthetic media to manipulate online and real-world interactions,” according to a GAO release.

“The expert contributions from the center’s fellows and activities like this conference are vital to our mission,” James-Christian Blockwood, managing director for Strategic Planning and External Liaison, said Tuesday. “The center represents an important step forward in GAO’s efforts to serve Congress and the American people by enhancing our ability to provide forward-looking analyses.”

The new center opened with nine fellows from academic and industry backgrounds around the country, who will spend the next year studying problems waiting just over the horizon. Each will serve for a two-year, renewable term, according to the center’s charter.

Amy Webb, one of the fellows and a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, called the fellowship a “civic duty.”

“We are confronting deep global uncertainties across myriad sectors, and there has never been a more urgent need for strategic guidance at the highest levels of government,” she said. “As a strictly nonpartisan organization, like GAO, the center is uniquely positioned to act as a central hub for research, data-driven models and strategic assessment.”

The inaugural class of fellows includes:

  • Andy Hines, head of graduate studies in foresight and an assistant professor and program coordinator of the graduate program in foresight at the University of Houston.
  • Octavio Hinojosa-Mier, executive director of the National Hispanic Corporate Council.
  • Brian Masterson, senior behavioral health medical director for UnitedHealth Group and founder of the Federal Health Futures Group.
  • Catarina “Cat” Tully, co-founder and director of the School of International Futures.
  • Kristel Van der Elst, co-founder and CEO of The Global Foresight Group and former head of foresight for the World Economic Forum.
  • Rosemarie Forsythe, retired executive at Exxon Mobil Corporation, where she worked for 15 years in a variety of roles, including director of international political strategy and vice president for government relations Eurasia and the Middle East.
  • Jens Wandel, special adviser to the secretary-general on reforms at the United Nations.
  • Amy Webb, a quantitative futurist and professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business.
  • Angela Wilkinson, senior director of the World Energy Council and former head of foresight for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.