By: Anca Agachi

What is the kernel of the issue?

With COVID-19, the US has irrevocably entered a much more turbulent security environment featuring permanent disruption, complexity of threats, and accelerated secondary and tertiary consequences. Unless it focuses on identifying risks early or even preventing them, the US will be forced into a never-ending cycle of draining, reactive crisis management.

Why is the issue important?

An anticipatory governance framework, through its network of processes and institutions, can present a potential solution. By using strategic foresight and timely data-driven feedback, anticipatory governance can help identify strategic shocks early, develop targeted responses rapidly, and allocate resources efficiently to manage them. The result can be improved, more collaborative decision-making and enhanced US governmental capacity to manage risks.

What is the recommendation?

President Biden should issue an executive order mandating the creation of a federal anticipatory governance framework, connecting key USG institutions, mainstreaming strategic foresight in their operations, and setting aside dedicated resources. This whole-of-government effort would be coordinated by the NSC, and include DoD, DoS, NIC, DHS, as well as issue-specific offices where relevant. This framework could be a first step towards shifting the US’ focus from crisis management to prevention, and could be further extended at the federal, state, local and tribal levels if successful.