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How to get a smart, lean gov – Part One

“Government is at a crossroad as it attempts to maintain basic citizen and customer services in an increasingly austere environment of “doing more with less”. The Smart Lean Government (SLG) Practical Guide has been developed to guide change agents as they shape and implement 21st century solutions. It highlights what needs to be done to create the lean, agile, and adaptive government services envisioned through a sustainable collaboration model.” – Smart Lean Government.

As we kick off 2014 one thing is clear, budgets are tight but demand for services remains higher than ever, thus the government needs to learn how to operate smarter. As agencies face some of the most challenging budgetary period, a government-industry group has come up with ways for agencies to move beyond doing more with less — to be smart and lean. Developed by Rick Smith and Josh Millsapps and the ACT-IAC Planning and Architecture SIG the Smart Lean Government guide shows how different levels of government can work together with shared services to share data.

In part one of our interview with Smith and Millsapps they told Chris Dorobek that sharable data is the key to success for government.

“The ACT-IAC group said there are really five tiers of government. The feds are leading the charge but most of the data exists at the local level. We feel there needs to be a partnership on putting out these shared services so that the citizen can directly get the value focused services,” said Smith.

Citizen expectations are on the rise. How does government measure up?

When you think of the citizen expectations about the services they get from government a lot of that has been primed by their interactions with private sector organizations. The expectation is that government is going to provide those same types of services. When you (citizen) go into process a marriage license or something like that – you are not going to have to understand the ins and outs of the government agency that handles that – really as a citizen, you are just there to get that little piece of paper taken care of. You shouldn’t be concerned with all the things that are happening on the backend. On the government side the idea that as that information comes in, it ought to be useful to all a bunch of different agencies and it should only require it being entered in one time. You ought to be able to support the entire process in a much more reasonable fashion. One of the things that smart lean government has uncovered as it has gone through this process is the lack of overall strategic planning across those levels of government. One of the things that smart lean government is trying to do is facilitate that conversation across the various levels of government,” said Millsapps.

Trying things over and over again, expecting different results?

“Part of what needs to change is the business model. Currently birth and marriage certificates, those kinds of things, right now these were random transactions that were started back maybe when Lincoln was president to do statistical recording. So in the local courthouse it recorded how many people were born, died, got married. The data they gathered was for reporting stats to Census and other various places around the government. What is needed though is life events data, which gathers data about the citizen or the business so that the data itself is focused on those particular people because the normal installation of services in government is normally the government contracts with systems integrator. The system integrator puts the system together and then they go as far as the data and now the data is the government’s concern. But the data isn’t formed in a way that makes that happen,” said Smith.

Smith gives us some examples:

  • “For example with Amazon.com they focus on the citizen and they gather as much information about the people who use their site. Buy their materials. They go into Facebook and other places where they can get publicly available information. They build a very complete profile. They don’t have any problems saying, you are this old, you have this many children, this is the type of thing you might want to read. They provide this type of stuff on a proactive basis. When something goes wrong they are very quick to exit so they don’t lose anything.”
  • “For some businesses like banks and insurance companies it has probably taken them four years to move from these random singular transactions to something that is a full client service. That’s why we think in the local government and the participation with the feds that the local government has most of the data than life events data service needs to be presented back to the other areas of government so that they all can participate in satisfying the citizens need.”
  • “In the Washington DC area we have spent time with the Washington metro Council of Governments. We have talked to Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun and we are starting to see some of the smart lean government working. Again it is not a technology issue it is an organization of your data issue. If you have organized data you can get a better idea of what you are doing.”

Part two of our discussion with Smith and Millesapps. Or for the entire 25 minute long conversation click here.

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Joshua Millsapps

One thing I failed to mention is that we looking for examples of smart, lean government to hold up as examples. We know we didn’t invent the wheel and many of the things we talk about are happening right now at all levels of government. Please don’t hesitate to post your examples here so we can share your hard work and help others learn from your efforts.