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How government agencies can solve for today and prepare for the future

David Marsh,
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Crisis response exposes business process fault lines, exaggerating what goes unnoticed or accepted during normal operations and clarifying uncomfortable truths about siloed IT ecosystems.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have far-reaching effects on the wellbeing of individuals, businesses, localities, and economies on a world-wide scale. As a result, government agencies charged with providing critical public services are rising to the challenge, while straining to operate in this time of great need.

If you’re an agency worker, you’re likely challenged with high volumes of claims, requests for assistance and services, or other support requests. If you’re a manager, you are adjusting to a higher number of team members working from remote locations. If you’re an IT specialist, you’re working long hours to ensure availability, accessibility, and security of your mission- and business-critical systems.

Closed offices are shifting to online workflows. Self-service websites are slowing in response to large, distributed workforces and unprecedented demand. Unfortunately, business processes that are highly paper- or person-to-person-based – and critical to achieving mission success – are creating administrative burdens and subsequent strains on the workforce.

The reality is, when crises happen, governments are forced to do more with the same capacity, in less time – while having to orchestrate integration of legacy systems that were not built with the flexibility and extensibility to scale on demand. I know because I lived it while supporting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Current Operations for seven years. This included deploying on short-notice in response to both natural and man-made disasters – with the task of modifying steady-state solutions to fit the situation at hand and provide over-the-shoulder (just-in-time) training to first responders. The same obstacles presented themselves at each response – onboarding, scaling, data aggregation, developing digital alternatives to multiple paper-driven processes, and implementing unified, on-demand reporting capabilities.

Take a crisis-agnostic approach to your solution

The traditional troubleshoot is to hire more temporary employees or assign collateral duty to the existing workforce to staff more phones and desktops. However, throwing bodies at legacy systems that are challenged by scale presents latency issues and, ironically, significant amounts of re-work.

As a result of recent modernization initiatives across government, your agency will have opportunities to solve its challenges with digital solutions. But beware of GOTS and COTS applications that stand alone and don’t integrate with your architecture or are not flexible enough to adapt over time to bring value to the next crisis situation. The most effective and cost-efficient approach to solution development includes a poly-crisis, agnostic view. That is, build for today but with an architecture that is adaptable and scalable for future, unforeseen challenges and crises.

Crisis response solutions for government

Pega can help right now. We understand that government needs are critical – and dynamic. New legislation and guiding authority are being introduced. Priorities are constantly changing. Regardless of these, and the added pressure of crisis response, the mission remains.

The Pega Government Platform™ makes it possible to quickly stand up robust, secure, compliant, and responsive solutions that have the inherent power to modify and scale to meet future needs or regulatory changes. We’ve built out quick-start, mission-critical capabilities applicable to many agencies, including:

  • Benefits access and management – Manage provider enrollment and citizen-agency interactions across channels, including intelligent chat. Help connect citizens with the services they need as fast as possible.

  • Grants management – Manage the request, evaluation, and distribution of multiple grants with one solution. Integrate with financial systems so you have a reliable source of truth.

  • COVID-19 Employee Safety and Business Continuity Tracker – Designed to help agencies track and manage employee availability for on-site or remote work.

Using these capabilities the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and their partner T-Systems were able to design and implement an economic assistance app in just five days.

Earlier, I highlighted the obstacles inherent to an ecosystem of disjointed applications and solutions. However, in times of crisis response: innovation receives an adrenaline boost; creativity overcomes skepticism; and outcome-driven development cuts through and clarifies expectations – the only human Key Performance Indicator.

Solve for today then evolve your solutions into next-gen

Health and welfare agencies and ministries will continue to be challenged with staffing shortages and scheduling issues in the foreseeable future. Demands on social service programs will increase – putting pressure on already stressed legacy systems. You need solutions that are “built for change” to collocate lessons learned and best practices from the last crisis and evolve in lock-step with technology to execute in an environment that will see constant change leading up to the next event-driven, change management frenzy.

If you haven’t done so already and are interested in a highly-responsive, low-code, and low-risk platform, connect with your implementation partners who are skilled at iterative design and implementation of applications that can be modified to expand processes and support future events.

In my days supporting responders, our small team used to say, “if we build what they need right now, they will come.” Today, you have the opportunity to leverage and harness the power of digital platforms and change that quip to: “If we solve for today, we can set the foundation for tomorrow.” Solutions that support a real-world, end-to-end crisis response and satisfy expectations have a clearer path to adoption, consumption, and becoming the standard.

Learn more:


  • Challenge: Operational Excellence
  • Industry: Government
  • Product Area: Platform
  • Topic: Digital Transformation

About the Author

A Director and Industry Principal for Pega’s Government sector, David Marsh has more than two decades of experience supporting public sector clients with crises and event response, strategic IT planning, organizational change management, and large-scale technology implementations.