Dear Metalbot, this is my first post, so hopefully it comes out OK.
I totally agree with your assessment of the utility of GTD in government. I have implemented GTD in my work both in the military and now as a government contractor. I think the most gains you can make with GTD are in several areas:
1) Processing email. In my last position in the military (a staff job in the Pentagon), my coworkers were amazed at my situational awareness. “How do you know that they are just testing the fire alarms?” I would tell them when you process all of your email, including the mundane messages the director’s secretary would forward, you know what’s going on. Most government workers just let their email get out of control, so that one cannot depend upon it as a reliable means of communication to implement department wide policies. I do think that somehow having an empty email inbox improves one’s productivity and attitude. I recently taught my mother over the phone how to create additional folders in her hotmail account to process her email. She was extremely happy not to have all the messages in one big folder, and seemed relieved to be more organized.
2) The tickler file. The tickler file was an invaluable tool to deal with the constant inflow of paperwork that I needed sometime in the future. Used in conjunction with a general reference file system, it enabled me to stay ahead of the all the paper government offices seem to generate.
3) The waiting for concept. The waiting for concept is another powerful GTD tool. In my last job a major meeting was postponed indefinitely. I had to notify another staff officer when the meeting was rescheduled. He was amazed that 9 months later I could email him to let him know the meeting was now scheduled. I had simply put a reminder in my waiting for email folder, and checked it each week during my weekly review.
I was most successful in implementing GTD when moving into a new position. When I first read GTD, I was in the middle of a demanding job and could never seem to get all the way through the collection phase. I would consider some training in GTD methods for new hires and those promoted to new positions as I think it gives them the best chance of successful implementation.
Thanks for sharing how you have made a major city safer thru the principles found in GTD.