The U.S. Federal Approach: Outside In or Inside Out?

 When President Obama’s proposed 2015 federal budget was released recently, U.S Federal CIO (and fellow native Iowan) Steve VanRoekel said, “What we find talking to Americans out there is that they really view us not as a collection of agencies or even an org chart, but as one government. So the approach we’re taking will be a one-government, outside-looking-in approach, versus inside-out, figuring out how do we break down those walls and silos to best serve [citizens].”

At the same time, during the 2015 Fiscal Year, VanRoekel’s office hopes to expand PortfolioStat to focus more on “increasing government efficiency and smoothing visitors' navigation across agencies' websites, contact centers and spheres of responsibility.” From my perspective, that’s the “Inside Out” view or, more specifically, the customer perspective.

Can you execute both views at the same time? Absolutely. But to get it right, I think you have to focus on the customer first. Further, and not to be too picky, I think it’s the “one government” experience that Americans are looking for, as opposed to how they view the enterprise. It’s a service view, not a political one.

At any rate, all of this is good news. VanRoekel is right to execute on both of these views. But beyond smoothing visitors’ navigation across agencies’ websites, contact centers and spheres of responsibility, government should strive to make it a seamless experience where citizens are guided along a service path that gives them the “one government” experience they’re looking for. To present that effectively and optimize performance, it’s time to drop all the agency branding and disparate business processes that support citizens’ existing self-service experience and adopt strategies and technologies that enable the “one government” experience on a situational (a.k.a. customer needs) basis.