How Technology Can Make Government More Citizen-Centric

Americans’ trust in government institutions is declining. According to the Pew Research Center, public trust in the government is at near-historic lows, with only 18 percent of Americans saying they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3 percent) or “most of the time” (15 percent). While politics plays a large role in who trusts the government and when, there is work to be done to earn public trust by improving everyday interactions with government via experiences like paying taxes and renewing a driver’s license.

“Services are … critical in shaping trust in and perceptions of the public sector. Citizens today expect more transparent, accessible, and responsive services from the public sector,” finds a report from McKinsey & Company on improving citizen satisfaction with government agencies.

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Improving the delivery of government services by becoming more “citizen-centric” is one significant way to improve constituents’ satisfaction with public agencies. By reducing or eliminating complexities and taking a cue from the private sector on how to streamline processes, local, state, and federal government agencies can provide citizens with more accessible, effective services.

Across sectors, industries are undergoing digital transformations to drive better customer experiences. In order to grow trust and best serve constituents, government agencies must employ similar strategies. Here are three key ways that technology can help your agency or department become more citizen-centric.

1. Reduce Red Tape and Bureaucracy

More than half of U.S. state and local government employees say outdated processes and technology make their jobs more difficult. The effect of this on public experience can be multifaceted: obtaining needed services can take longer and seem unnecessarily complicated, and dealing with also-frustrated public sector employees can erode the quality of interactions. As such, employing technology to reduce red tape and streamline processes on the back end is an important starting point for transforming the citizen experience.

For example, a work execution platform can provide agencies with key tools for reducing departmental silos and bottlenecks that can frequently occur in the delivery of government services. A secure, compliant work execution platform allows employees to collaborate more effectively across departments and provides real-time status updates and visibility into important metrics, helping to maintain velocity and reduce lags that can erode citizens’ experiences and satisfaction. Projects move forward more quickly, with fewer emails and meetings, creating efficiencies and reducing frustration.

2. Shelve the Paperwork

The excessive paperwork involved in delivering government services isn’t just a cliché. For a majority of local and state government employees, all that paper makes it hard to complete their regular workload within a normal work week. But contrary to the perception, paperwork is not a necessary evil of a government job.

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Automation can eliminate much of the time spent on manual, repetitive tasks, from entering the same information into duplicate forms and data files, to providing status reports, to obtaining approvals. According to the Smartsheet report Automation in the Workplace, automating such tasks could save government employees six or more hours a week. These time savings can help to improve efficiencies and speed the delivery of important services to the public. Automation can also help to reduce human error and improve accuracy, which can also help to restore trust in the system.

3. Re-envision the Citizen Experience

Two years ago, the U.S. launched Login.gov, a single sign-on (SSO) solution that allows citizens to access services from multiple agencies using the same login information. But with information provided on more than 4,500 websites on 400 domains for the federal government alone, there’s still much improvement to be made: one review found that nine out of 10 such websites fall short of design and development standards.

To become more citizen-centric, agencies must improve these key channels used to access government information and services. This includes making a commitment to transparency, accountability, and usability by providing citizens with accurate and up-to-date information and secure, easy-to-use tools and data collection forms.

Modernizing government services is more than just a nice idea – the MGT (Modernizing Government Technology) Act aims to provide federal agencies with a foundation for much-needed innovation and digital transformation. But to be seen as transparent, accessible and responsive, government agencies at all levels must approach technology not as an end in itself but as a means to becoming truly citizen-centric.

[“source=forbes”]