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How to get a smart, lean gov – Part Two

Duplication and overlap is rampant in government. With budgets dwindling down more than ever, agencies are looking to cut costs. But collaborating across disciplines is difficult. That’s where the authors of Smart Lean Government come in. They have developed a novel plan for how to reduce billions of dollars in overlapping information technology services governmentwide: They want to look at the recipients of those services rather than at the agencies where they originate.

The guide is designed to whittle down the government’s interaction with citizens to a single point for each “life event” such as giving birth, going to college, buying a home, starting a business and dying.

In part two of the DorobekINSIDER’s interview with ACT-IAC’s Rick Smith and Josh Millsapps they told us why now is the time to experiment with this new form of collaboration. (Part One of the Interview)

“Really the impetus for getting into Smart Lean Government is that necessity is the mother of invention. When you talk about places like Amazon what forced them down the path of orientating around services for their customers has been competitiveness, profitability, all the things that make the private sector industry go. I think we are in the sweet spot for this type of reform in government because there are all these external factors in terms of the budget and the external requirement for change – all of those things are kind of working together to foster an environment that is going to be more conducive to change this time around than has occurred previously,” said Millsapps.

Reason for Smart Lean Gov?

“The challenges they are trying to address are, ‘I am trying to shave dollars out of how am I performing this existing service, but I also need to work with more organizations than I have ever worked with before. I need to be able to communicate that information.’ That is the hallmark of Smart Lean Government. Citizens are demanding more and more to have access to the information that they are putting in. They expectation is that they are going to be able to access, update and edit and process transactions anywhere. So you have things like mobility driving it forward. There are so many of these things that are working together that are pushing government to deliver much more than they have done before in a much more cost effective manner than has ever been done before,” said Millsapps.

Do people not want to give personal info to the gov?

“I think it is more a chicken and an egg thing. At healthcare.gov for example, if they had started at the data service, the life event, of who is getting insured, what is the profile of people and they had a better local database with which to go after they might not have had all of the problems that they ran into. But their data – as I understand it – was totally mis-structured for the type of presentation they were trying to put together and they worked very hard on the presentation and not on the data that was filling in the blanks,” said Smith.

Something agencies can’t collaborate – by law.

“This is a potential challenge but the good news is it is so large that we are trying to put the piece of the elephant or whatever. For example in law enforcement there is this exercise called NIEM which was created by the Justice Department four or five years ago which is now being adopted by more and more Justice communities – the whole idea is that as we go forward we can refine NIEM to be a more data service orientation and when we had that success. We are also looking at it from the health network and the national emergency fund,” said Smith.

For part one 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.