We have always known that digital government saves money. It also allows us to do things that we could never do without it. Over the years, we have tried to quantify the savings, but this can sometimes be difficult often due to a lack of good data about the unit cost of providing services through traditional channels. But now, we have some new data that quantifies some of the hard savings associated with providing government services online.
Last week, the Center for Public Policy at the University of Utah released a more detailed study that explores the cost of providing services online. The Center spent months reviewing data from a five year period to be able to determine the actual cost of doing business through traditional channels in various state agencies. They focused in on nine services where the data was most reliable and complete over a longer period. The result was that, overall for this group of services, the state saves an average of $13 per transaction. For these services, that represents a total savings of $46 million over the five years represented in the study.
This study is good news for those promoting digital government. These kind of results also don’t come without some work. You can’t just create online services and expect that they will be heavily utilized unless you are willing to invest some effort. Our Utah.gov team meets every week to discuss how we can better market our services. This not only includes working to improve our service interface, but also making sure that our portal makes the service easy to find. It includes search engine optimization – making sure that search engines rate the service highly in search results for related key words and phrases. It includes marketing through press releases and social media channels.
Ultimately, our goal is for the online channel to be the primary channel, approaching 100% adoption whenever possible. This study confirms the value of that goal.