2020 Vision Outlook for Local Government Leaders

20 local government experts offer their perspective on issues that will shape communities in 2020 and beyond.

By Ijeoma Nwatu | Feb 18, 2020 | BLOG POST

We reached out to members and experts to get their opinion on a variety of issues that are impacting our communities today and over the coming years.

Last year, our experts touched on financial literacy, performance management, transportation, and everything in between. This year’s predictions include cybersecurity, multigenerational workforces, and climate change. Each prediction offers specific insights and includes additional resources from ICMA via our podcast, books, webinars, and more. For a full list of the predictions, visit our 2020 Vision page

Take a look at what local government experts are saying about:


Cybersecurity will look a lot like it looked last year with frequent—if not constant—cyberattacks, especially ransomware attacks. The state, and perhaps federal, government may act to prevent local governments from paying off ransomware attackers because paying them off encourages more attacks and finances more cybercrime. Here are a few things local governments can do: create and maintain a culture of cybersecurity; address barriers to cybersecurity, especially funding and staffing; training, training, and more training for all end users; follow best cybersecurity practices; and don't go it alone…reach out to other organizations for information, expertise, and help. Read more from Dr. Don Norris.

Racial Equity

“Looking to the decade ahead, I predict that a critical mass of local jurisdictions will have a vision for racial equity. We will recognize that it is essential for local government to acknowledge the reality that government played a role in creating and maintaining racial inequities, and we will make a course correction – government proactively working to advance racial justice.” Read more from Julie Nelson .

Rapid Urbanization

The World's Cities in 2016 estimated that 90% of the world's urban population growth by 2050 is expected to occur in Asia and Africa. Many of these countries have socioeconomic profiles comparable to India. Local government management professionals around the world should look beyond the common perception of Indian cities as centres of extreme poverty and view their diversity of languages, climate zones, landscapes, and political parties, set on a democratic and cooperative federalism structure, and see India as poised to demonstrate innovative solutions. Read more from Manvita Baradi.

Multigenerational Workforces

“Leading agile organizations requires leaders to reframe their perceptions, attitudes, and expectations of generational diversity and begin to view these differences through different lenses. Today's workplace is composed of cohorts of at least four, perhaps five different generations of employees, each with unique perceptions, values, needs, expectations, work styles, and motivations.” Read more from Priscilla Wilson.

Community Engagement

We are seeing the next wave of community engagement practice take hold, with artists, culture-bearers, and designers at the center. It's time to move away from contentious town halls and sticky dots. Arts-based community engagement practices often begin with storytelling, imagination, and interactive activities, so that communities can tap into the cultural identity, knowledge, and experience of its residents. Read more from Lyz Crane.

Share your thoughts on social media by tagging us on Twitter and Facebook. To be considered for next year’s outlook, contact Samantha Wagner at swagner@icma.org


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