The U.K just launched their Government Digital Strategy with 11 principles and 14 activities encompassing their approach to moving government into a digital first world.
Andrea DiMaio just wrote a good recap on the pros/cons of the strategy and I wanted to highlight a couple of my favorite items and what they mean for other countries and state/local governments.
1) Transactions over 100k First – I love love action #2 – Services handling over 100,000 transactions each year will be re-designed, operated and improved by a skilled, experienced and empowered Service Manager
At the most basic level, citizens want the most popular transactions optimized for life in 2012. That should be the #1 goal and where our energy is focused. I’d argue that it’s more important to optimize high-volume transactions like DMV renewals or paying taxes first or getting social security benefits before we get into more sexy topics like creating an ideation site for the city.
2) Marketing is Needed – Marketing can be a bad word in government but it’s needed. I love action #8 – Departments will raise awareness of their digital services so that more people know about them and use them
Internet services still require marketing both online and offline. Just cause you exist doesn’t mean anyone is using your service. That’s why you see TV ads for Priceline and print ads for usa.gov. That’s why Fab.com buys banner ads and Facebook ads. Even Google bought a Super Bowl ad. Government agencies need to promote their digital offerings – they can’t just assume people know about them and know about the latest changes.
3) Rethinking Digital access – Action #9 is great There will be a cross-government approach to assisted digital. This means that people who have rarely or never been online will be able to access services offline, and we will provide additional ways for them to use the digital services
It doesn’t explicitly say this but I think the most important part of this digital transactions is optimizing for use of public libraries and community centers. The digital divide is shrinking in the pure sense of access but lots of folks apply for benefits using library computers and community centers. Government should optimize funding for these centers & make sure librarians are trained on digital government services
Moving forward – It will be interesting to see how the digital initiative unfolds in U.K. but I like the push to reimagine government services for digital world. In 2013 and moving forward, I expect new media directors will focus less on social media/prizes/redesigning websites & more on redesign gov services for digital (may even be renamed digital directors). Move from the previous focus of engaging citizens to focusing on lowering costs and delivering quicker/better services