Digital services and expanded telework are major milestones for government. This age of government 2.0 is one that tech-minded acolytes dreamt of, but few in the public sector forecasted its landfall by 2021.
Alaska was “midstream” in its transformation efforts when the pandemic hit, Chief Information Officer (CIO) Bill Smith said. Already with a long-term vision for digital government and accessible services, Alaska more easily pivoted online.
“A moving boat is easier to turn,” said Smith.
On GovLoop’s recent transformation virtual summit, 64% of attendees on Smith’s panel said their organization had been more innovative during the COVID-19 pandemic. But after weathering the first year of COVID-19, many governments – including Alaska’s – now don’t have a charted course ahead.
Agencies never intended for stopgap measures to be permanent fixes; they were just plugging holes to keep afloat amid unprecedented organizational toil. Now, they have to rationalize applications, workflows and policies. Whether for funding, security or comfort, agencies are deciding what to reel in, what to adapt and what to pursue.
“We’re surviving in remote work, but I’m not sure I’d use the term ‘we’re thriving in remote work’ yet,” Smith said.
MJ Jackson, AVP and Global Head of Industries at DocuSign, agreed with the assessment that agencies aren’t “transformed” yet. Plenty of organizations made forms available online and incorporated digital signatures – DocuSign’s area of expertise – but didn’t change the processes and practices around them.
“That’s just treating a symptom of the problem,” Jackson said. “True transformation comes over time.”
Not innovating comes with a cost, Jackson said. Though familiar territory, the smooth waters of convention and legacy systems deliver less value and still run up charges. The choppy waters of innovation, though risky, can be a better course to follow.
Agencies should also ensure new services are built and delivered equitably, Jackson said. Building equitably involves having diverse representation and engagement during production, while delivering equitably means enabling accessibility on different devices and in different formats.
Jackson made mention of several ways to lead transformation and innovation. Any project should be evaluated for three qualities, he said – those being if it’s valuable, measurable and sustainable.
From there, agencies can judge the end product’s experience, this time applying three simple “E”s. The (1) engagement, (2) efficiency and (3) effectiveness of the final result determine its impact and success.
Those steps can be a compass for transformation.
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