Digital government transformation is the ongoing application of modern technology to improve government performance.
Governments at all levels are undergoing digital transformation in order to deliver government services and programs more efficiently, transparently, and cost-effectively. Today, digital government transformation has become critical for meeting the expectations of modern citizens.
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According to a recent Granicus survey of 115 government leaders, 61% believe their organization is not keeping pace with the private sector in its adoption and implementation of modern technologies. Also, 36% believe that government will never catch up with private sector in terms of technology. Bureaucracy and budget are leading factors of why, but many governments are navigating these complicated environments by focusing on key areas, including digital services, mobile-first technologies, targeted communications, and process automation.
No one wants to stand in a line at the DMV. And they don’t have to. By applying a No Wrong Door approach to government, leaders can catch up to private sector giants, like Amazon, that have elevated expectations for customer experience.
To implement digital transformation, IT and practitioners must have a clear idea of what success looks like from the perspective of their users. It all boils down to trust, according to Suma Nallapati, Secretary of Pathology and Chief Information Officer for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology at the State of Colorado. “Citizens need to trust government,” said Nallapati in a Granicus report. “And — from an IT perspective — we can do that by deploying secure, reliable, efficient, effective, and elegant technology that is designed with human use in mind.”
When Durham County Council in the U.K. launched their new citizen engagement strategy, Altogether Better Durham, they had three main goals: give citizens more choice, gain better citizen insights, and increase efficiency. So the Durham County Council transitioned toward a digital approach to public services using a digital government services solution, called govService.
Now, over 90 processes and forms for government services can be accessed online and in one place, making it easy for citizens to make transactions of all kinds with their government. As a result, the number of citizen requests made online has increased. This dramatic shift in contact channel has already identified over $308,000 USD in annual savings, a figure that is expected to rise with time. Explore govService>>
[Related Content: Gov Leaders Share Digital Transformation Insights at 2019 CIO/CTO Summit]
What previously manual processes can purpose-built software offload from government employees? That’s what many governments are asking and answering as they transition from traditional manual processes to automated solutions powered by technology. Examples can include bringing efficiencies to the public meeting process to process for responding to service requests.
For example, the internal process for documenting and preparing for public meetings often requires manual routing of paper documents through weeks-long review and approval processes. Automated through digital technology, that process can go from taking weeks to only a several hours. For citizens that same public meeting can be searchable on the government website, with accompanying video that allows citizens to skip to the portions of the meeting that matter most to them. Explore govMeetings>>
Similarly, many local governments using digital solutions to automate how they manage and track government records. Napa County, California, for example, is using software to streamline how it processes county records related to financial disclosures for elected officials. By replacing what was once manual and time-consuming with a digital solution, they’re able to focus on higher priority work. Explore govRecords>>
Mobile devices have impacted government with the same force as every other sector. The 2019 Civic Engagement Report shows this trend is only increasing. Mobile devices account for nearly half of all government website visits. In fact, when it comes to hard-to-reach populations, a mobile device may be the only device they own. For these reasons and more, government entities continue to optimize experiences for mobile devices from building mobile-responsive websites to eliminating the need for PDFs.
For example, in Columbia County, Georgia, leaders delivered a well-designed, mobile-friendly government website that quickly connect citizens to the information and services they want. Explore govAccess>>
Data is no longer the domain of a select few. Technological solutions have made data available to a more democratic range of government leaders and practitioners. The data provides context and feedback that in turn helps government become more efficient and more responsive to citizen wants and needs. By receiving data in real time, data is also delivered when it’s most valuable, rather than after significant time lapses that could render data insights obsolete. Data is impacting everything from housing and transportation to the citizen experience. At the same time, government leaders acknowledge that clear rules are required for gathering, handling, and using the growing amount of data available.
In Culver City, California, leaders are using data from their communications software, govDelivery, to measure and improve citizen engagements. In the last year, they sent 2.7M messages, reaching 24,000 residents who subscribe to the topics they’re most interested in. With this combination, they’ve been able to measure an impressive 57% engagement rate, which beats government benchmarks by 12%. Explore govDelivery>>
In an ideal world, digital transformation in government would be as simple as aligning technological solutions to demand. However, the modernization of government bears significant change and requires close evaluation of the below considerations and more.
Today, cloud technologies are considered as secure, if not more secure, than traditional software. Effective technology leaders dedicate time to educating their teams about this development (especially IT), and what security measures are pre-built into cloud technology. Government leaders, according to Gartner, should be reframing the question of cloud security from “Is the cloud secure?” to “Am I using the cloud securely?”
What does “securely” mean? In New Hampshire, the definition depends. According the State of Digital in Government report, they’re applying baseline NIST standards, but flexing to the varying security needs of different agencies. “We used to approach [cybersecurity] with a one-size-fits-all strategy, but we were constantly granting exceptions to different people and organizations when it didn’t work for them,” said Denis Goulet, Commissioner for the Department of Information Technology for the State of New Hampshire. “Now we use what we call a ‘baseline plus’ system. Essentially, what is the minimum we need to be secure? That baseline gets implemented across the board. But different departments and agencies can now layer extra security on top of that.”
Transformation is a substantial and ongoing effort. With limited budgets, where do you focus first? Have a clear understanding of opportunities and phase initiatives accordingly. Set too many projects in motion at once and you risk doing disservice to all of them. Also bear in mind that existing procurement and budgeting processes often lag behind the pace of technological advancement. Organizations that are slow to award bids stall adoption even where there is high demand. Look for ways to accelerate or streamline the RFI process, secure funding, and issue RFPs.
One priority in leading successful digital transformation is to strengthen the partnership between government practitioners and IT staff. From legal and contractual snags to bandwidth issues, IT can help the rest of an agency troubleshoot problems or avoid them altogether. In return, business users can give IT staff the valuable context they need to optimize digital solutions for specific needs. The more communication among departments the better.
“[Recent] trends have shifted the role of IT from setting up computers and printers to a more holistic, change-making agency,” said Bob Samson, Chief Information Officer for the State of New York’s Office of Information Technology Services. “It all starts with dialogue.”
Digital transformation, which impacts people as much as it does technology, demands careful consideration of user training and adoption. New systems can mean more training, need for highly skilled development resources, and issues that come with new systems. Keep in mind as well that many individuals perceive change as risk. One challenge for many government agencies is overcoming that fear. In fact, in a recent survey, over 70% of U.S. government respondents stated that they are highly conservative or prefer to follow their peers with regard to innovation.
Know that digital transformation, however, has momentum. Over 65% of state and local governments are beginning their DX journey and looking to upgrade legacy systems, change long-standing processes, and automate functions.
At Granicus, we provide solutions and expertise for digital transformation to local, state, and federal governments. From services to websites to communications to public meetings to public records, we have a large, thriving base of customers demonstrating transformational success and effectiveness. Let’s Connect>>