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GAO: Deep Space & Deep Fakes: New "Center for Strategic Foresight" Launched

Press Release From: Government Accountability Office
Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) formally launched its new Center for Strategic Foresight activities today with a conference focused on critical issues confronting policymakers today. The inaugural conference brought together experts to explore two topics with a direct bearing on the future security and well-being of the United States: the management of space policy by government and the private sector, as well as the growing use worldwide of “deep fake” synthetic media to manipulate online and real-world interactions.

“At GAO, we’re committed to thinking strategically about the future in order to meet Congress’ evolving information needs,” said Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and the head of GAO, who opened today’s conference. “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.”

GAO created the Center to enhance its ability to identify, monitor, and analyze emerging issues. Located in GAO’s Office of Strategic Planning and External Liaison, the Center is a unique entity in the federal government, one that reflects the non-partisan independent watchdog agency’s broad mandate to provide Congress with reliable, fact-based information for overseeing federal agencies and programs. 

The Center currently has nine non-resident Fellows who are leading experts in foresight, planning, and futures studies. Their backgrounds include stints in government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academia, and international organizations.

The Center and its Fellows are a major component of the foresight ecosystem GAO has built. “The expert contributions from the Center’s Fellows and activities like this conference are vital to our mission,” said James-Christian Blockwood, Managing Director for Strategic Planning and External Liaison, who helped establish and oversees the Center. “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.”

Expressing her strong support for the Center, Fellow Amy Webb, a futurist, author and professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, said, “It is my civic duty and my honor to serve as an inaugural Fellow in the Center. 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. 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.”

For more information, please contact Chuck Young, Managing Director of GAO Public Affairs, at Youngc1@gao.gov or 202-512-4800.

The Center’s 2019 Fellows Are:

Andy Hines is the 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 is the Executive Director of the National Hispanic Corporate Council, which works with corporate America to provide its member companies a multi-layered approach and resources to understand future trends and effectively maximize the diversity of the Hispanic market.

Brian Masterson is Senior Behavioral Health Medical Director for UnitedHealth Group and was founder of the Federal Health Futures Group.

Catarina (Cat) Tully is the Co-Founder and Director of the School of International Futures, an independent consultancy that builds the capacity of business leaders, policy-makers, governments, and international organizations to use and gain value from strategic foresight.

Kristel Van der Elst is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Global Foresight Group and former head of foresight for the World Economic Forum.

Rosemarie Forsythe is a 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 is a Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Reforms at the United Nations.

Amy Webb is a quantitative futurist and professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, where she developed and teaches the MBA course on strategic foresight and futures forecasting.

Angela Wilkinson is the Senior Director of the World Energy Council and former head of foresight for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, is an independent, nonpartisan agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonideological, fair, and balanced. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.

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