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INFER: U.S. Government White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Case Study

How OSTP paired the analytic technique of issue decomposition and crowdsourced forecasting to better understand the future of a national security issue to craft better policy.

Cultivate has launched a new issue decomposition workshop offering based on our recent work helping governments and think tanks break down complex, strategic issues of national security into leading drivers and signals that can be forecasted. Here’s a look at how a U.S. government stakeholder used 'issue decomposition' to track and better understand competitiveness in microelectronics.

Client Challenge

Heightened international competition has led to a decline in the longstanding dominance of the U.S. in semiconductors and similar microelectronics innovation and manufacturing. Reasserting U.S. leadership in microelectronics is inextricably linked to its ability to lead in AI. The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) recommends that the U.S. seek to regain and retain a two-generation lead in microelectronic technology. To understand and track progress in this area, a U.S. government stakeholder turned to Cultivate to run a decomposition lifecycle over a one year period, including a portfolio of forecast questions on INFER.

Our Solution

We completed the following steps as part of the decomposition lifecycle:

  1. Pre-workshop assessment. We held initial discussions with client stakeholders to gather important context around the strategic issue and possible future scenarios (e.g., the U.S. regains microelectronics manufacturing dominance vis a vis Taiwan and remains a leader in R&D).
  2. Facilitated workshop. Client stakeholders and subject matter experts participated in a workshop to confirm the scope of the strategic question—Will the U.S. regain and retain a two generation lead in microelectronics?—and identify the leading drivers and signals (i.e. government investment, manufacturing, and R&D).
  3. Asynchronous research. Our team conducted additional research, including meetings with experts, to complete the decomposition map.
  4. Final decomposition map. The decomposition map, and accompanying narrative, was distributed to a broader group of experts for review before finalizing. From this map, the Cultivate team developed a portfolio of forecast questions that were published to INFER to collect crowd forecasts.
  5. Quarterly review and reporting. Cultivate evaluated the decomposition quarterly for gaps and developed new signals/forecast questions as needed. Additionally, custom reports combined the forecasted signals into a single visual showing which scenario was likely to play out and how collective judgments had changed over time.