I have written a lot about the promise of digital government because I believe this is the most critical concept for government officials to fully understand today. Digital government has the power to truly transform government service, using the perspective of the constituent and meeting the demands of our digitally native generations. As I wrote in my e-book, The Roadmap to Digital Government, “Digital government provides a new way to connect with constituents and involves improved services, new processes, and new business models.”
Soon after the e-book debuted, I ran across about another book written by Alan Brown, Jerry Fishenden, and Mark Thompson titled Digitizing Government. Understanding and Implementing New Digital Business Models. All three authors are IT advisors and associated with universities in the United Kingdom who do a wonderful job of comparing digital government strategies across governments on a global basis. Although many of their examples are UK specific, they could just have easily been discussing the challenges we have in the United States – across all levels of government.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading their work as it strengthened my own arguments for the promise of digital government. Their e-book opened my mind up to even other possibilities regarding new services and new business models government should consider. Here’s a few takeaways of note:
- The trend in most Western economies show public expenditure as a % of GDP rising, while emerging economies are becoming much more competitive as they have a much lower rate of public spending as a % of their GDP, with an ever-increasing skilled workforce. “In order to maintain our existing standards of public services within this era of relative decline, we need to have a serious and open public debate about how we reorganize our public service delivery models or accept lower public service standards. We cannot continue to pretend that we can have both.”
- Government is a monopoly service provider. “With such a privileged, monopoly status comes great responsibility: governments need urgently to rethink their role, engagement approach and delivery model for the digital world.”
- While technology is the enabler of digital government, digitizing government services requires a transformation in how government designs and delivers services. “Digital allows us to separate out important services from internal overheads: to move from multiple versions of the same thing, organized around the internal needs of the bureaucracy, to the same version of different things, organized around the citizen”.
- Back-office government operations both enable, as well as constrain, public services. The current government organizational structures have been in place for decades – sometimes centuries – and involve many fragmented systems and siloed applications. “To succeed, it will involve a strong political and leadership commitment to a meaningful untangling of the fractured services, systems, organizations and processes currently in place.”
It’s my belief that government needs to change the way they approach solutions by looking outside in and focusing on the constituent journey. The authors take this thought one step further. “Instead of working within existing boundaries, government needs to consider the outcomes it intends to deliver and how best they might be achieved – rather than moving automatically into delivery of a particular solution based on the way things are currently done. …the expenditure of resources for any reason other than the direct creation of value for the citizen should be considered wasteful, and thus a target for elimination”.
There are many more relevant thoughts, plus some great recommendations for approaching the changes required to government business processes. If you have an interest in opening your mind up to the possibilities – and implications – of digital government, their e-book is worth reading.
To be successful, government organizations can (and should) move beyond traditional development methodologies by adopting an agile development approach. Download The Roadmap to Digital Government now to discover how to get there.