2021 City COVID Survey: Local Government’s New Normal » COVID-19 Won’t Fundamentally Change the Work of Local Government

COVID-19 Won’t Fundamentally Change the Work of Local Government


In July 2020, there were serious discussions about what the future of service delivery in local government would look like, and the responses to our first survey reflected that uncertainty. For example: would entire workflows be automated?

85% of respondents believed that COVID-19 would have a lasting impact on how local governments deliver services.

Now, almost a year later, it is becoming clear that the fundamental, day-to-day work of local government will not change forever.

Top 3-5 issues local government focused on in July 2020 and April 2021
From July 2020 to April 2021, community engagement, small business support and affordability of services increased in priority.

Respondents predicted what issues their local governments would be focused on one year from now, and which changes would be permanent.

Top 3-5 issues local governments will be focused on in one year. community engagement 50%, small business support, 38%; facilities maintenance, 37%; affordability of services, 34%; Public health & wellness, 33%; homelessness & affordable housing, 30%; complete streets, 24%; community & crisis communications, 21%; traffic & congestion, 21%; internet access & digital divide, 20%; policing & systemic racism, 19%; workforce & job training, 18%; work from home & workflow management, 15%; climage change & GHC emissions, 13%; online revenue & payment capture, 12%; data privacy, 6%
Community engagement, small business support and facilities maintenance & modification are expected to be top priorities in local government within the next year.


The lasting legacy of COVID-19 of local government work may not be as permanent as local government employees first thought.

Expectations about which changes will be permanent. Move from paper to digital - 67% expected change to be permanent when asked in July 2020, 57% expected change to be permanent in April 2021, difference -10%.
Local government leaders expected more permanent changes in July 2020 than they do now in April 2021.
Local Government's New Normal - PDF Version
A PDF version of the survey results & analysis.
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