I believe government needs to start doing two things that don't come naturally -
1. Testing out innovative ideas to deal with problems and readily discarding ones that don't work, while expanding those that do.
2. Developing new ways to finance both routine operations and those innovative ideas.
Governments are not generally rewarded for being innovative, so it's not a surprise these acts are challenging. But, the societal problems we are facing are growing and changing so rapidly that we need our government processes and programs to change accordingly.
One of the tools I've been interested in for several years is the idea of Social Impact Bonds. If you haven't heard of them, here's a good, short primer on what they're all about and some of the latest thinking on them.
Instead of relying on tax revenue or straightforward charity, state and local governments are signing contracts with Wall Street investment houses and banks as well as foundations. These contracts, often called “social impact bonds,” leverage capital from investors and expertise from service providers to do everything from rehabilitating young offenders to helping the homeless find shelter.