Governments at all levels are uniquely positioned to create and deliver solutions to society’s most pressing issues. At the same time, agencies around the country consistently deliver services that provide people and communities with safety, education, infrastructure, and economic development. That’s quite a heavy lift.
There’s a challenge today in that governments face increased expectations along with budget reductions, a changing workforce, and political uncertainty. In addition, as an industry inherently conservative when it comes to risk, implementing the organizational changes necessary to keep pace with the digital world remains a challenge.
Shift Challenge to Opportunity
It’s hard to distill the deluge of articles and information on the evolution of government in the digital era into a practical roadmap for present and future success.
Such a roadmap, however, does exist. To not only survive but flourish in a world of data, governments need a long-term strategy centered around building a strong digital foundation. This digital foundation is just as important as a jurisdiction’s physical one. The digital foundation enables functionality and scalability for smart growth. This is where government’s greatest opportunity lies.
A modern digital foundation has the power to turn challenge into opportunity. It facilitates streamlined operations and lowered costs while bridging the skills gap and enabling partnerships for innovation.
Build Your Foundation
Stagnation in government agencies is caused, in large part, by legacy back-office systems that have been in place for decades and require years of approval, procurement, and implementation to successfully replace. Even then, replacement processes tend to happen independently. Directors evaluate new systems solely on the merits of functionality for their respective departments, without considering interoperability with other systems. Building a lasting digital infrastructure requires these key tech procurement strategies:
- Best-in-industry solutions
Each department’s solution should stand alone to meet all its back-office needs with exceptional quality. Otherwise, it will be the weak link that adversely affects the entire organization.
- Supported integration of technology and tools
It is not safe to assume that all software solutions work out of the box seamlessly with others. Early in procurement, ensure any solutions under consideration accommodate integration technologies and tools, and seek out vendors that offer a hands-on integration support.
- Platform approach
To realize maximum benefits from process integration and data sharing, systems should be part of the same, underlying platform that can grow and adapt to incorporate the entire organization and keep pace with technological advancement. (Read GovLoop’s Why Data Sharing and Integration Both Matter.)
- Dependable vendors
Preserve your investment by partnering with vendors that have successfully navigated the rough waters of the last two, three, or four waves of technology and have kept up with innovation.
Fully modern agencies eliminate burdensome silos. In GovLoop’s 4 Areas to Break Down Silos, we explored how to make data work for agencies for smart resource allocation, comprehensive performance management, accurate succession planning, and meaningful citizen engagement.
A strong digital foundation can break down silos in the key areas of operations, data, partners, and the public. Digital maturity in these areas can look like this:
Integrated platform that includes cloud connections and IoT software
Self-service access to real-time data from every relevant system
Seamless connection of data and processes across geographic boundaries and jurisdictions
Customizable, mobile, digital experiences with government that match private-world experiences
Connected communities unite data, systems, and people for better public service. In a world of connected communities, government agencies share information and integrate workflows across departmental, political, and geographical boundaries.
Positive outcomes abound when agencies share data and information easily and integrate processes among departments and jurisdictions:
- Seamless communication of important data improves public services and strengthens public safety.
- Connected communities enhance public engagement by making more types of data publicly available, giving people new insight into their immediate and surrounding neighborhoods.
- Emerging technology platforms offer electronic portals that gather information from disparate departments. These allow internal and external stakeholders to access and work with real-time information to create efficiencies and community solutions.
The speed of digital advancement will not slow down, nor will the challenges facing the public sector abate. Attending to a government’s core digital infrastructure will mitigate these challenges and ensure immediate returns on investment as well as the flexibility necessary to grow and adapt, in governments and across regions.
Meredith Trimble is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a former municipal official and Town Council Acting Chair, who focused on strategic planning, annual budgeting, and bonded infrastructure projects. Her government experience also includes posts in both federal and state-level executive branch agencies: Associate Editor of the U.S. Federal Election Commission’s FEC Record; and Director of Education for the CT Office of State Ethics. In her current role as a Senior Content Specialist with Tyler Technologies, Inc., she writes content to help empower those who serve the public. You can read her posts here.