Up until very recently, government agencies have functioned primarily as service-delivery organizations. But now, officials are shifting their focus to citizen-centricity. This means aligning government services with the needs and expectations of citizens and communities to improve satisfaction and engagement. It is no longer sufficient to develop service offerings around the needs of the government agency. The 21st century American consumer has grown to expect efficiency, ease-of-use, transparency, and personalization, even when interacting with their government.
To understand the reasons for citizens’ dissatisfaction with government services, one must consider the “citizen journey.” The citizen journey is the “entire experience a person has when seeking a government service.” (https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-sector/our-insights/implementing-a-citizen-centric-approach-to-delivering-government-services) This journey usually involves many interactions, or touchpoints, sometimes with several different departments, before the task is completed. Instead of improving each touchpoint individually, governments must now take a holistic approach, examining the journey as a whole and streamlining the entire process.
An important facet of moving toward citizen-centric government is the push to simplify processes. Many governments have already introduced online portals for tasks such as driver’s license renewal, voter registration, and filing taxes. This saves citizens the trouble of needing to visit government buildings in person. But some people find these websites confusing or functionally inadequate. Other times, citizens are unaware that these online forms and services exist, or they are unsure which department is responsible for a particular process. Each separate government or department has its own systems in place, and often they do not communicate with each other. The result is that citizens must enter the same information into the system many different times instead of inputting it once into a consolidated online form. This leads to feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction. It is therefore essential for different agencies and departments to begin to work together to deliver government services to citizens in a straightforward, personalized way. (https://deloitte.wsj.com/cmo/2018/03/14/taking-a-citizen-centric-approach-to-state-government/)
One way to accomplish this goal is to centralize IT services and establish uniformity across all departments to allow for data-sharing. In this way, a person could create a secure account and digital identity that would store their personal information in one location and automatically populate previously entered information into forms for many different departments. Setting up this type of “one stop shop” would decrease frustration and raise satisfaction levels. (https://deloitte.wsj.com/cmo/2018/03/14/taking-a-citizen-centric-approach-to-state-government/)
In order to identify which journeys and touchpoints are most important to citizens, governments can leverage artificial intelligence technology as well as cloud-based solutions and big data. Cloud-based systems would make it possible for citizens to access information and forms anywhere, on any device. And if their personal data was stored securely in the cloud, it could be automatically inserted into forms that the system would guide them through. Artificial intelligence can be used to detect touchpoints that seem to be problematic so that they can be improved. In addition, AI could analyze a person’s needs and present them with the proper forms so they don’t need to go searching for them. For example, if the system sees that a person is a small-business owner, it would present him or her with forms for registering for a business license, or business expense tax forms. (https://gcn.com/articles/2018/07/12/citizen-centric-government.aspx) (https://www.govtech.com/products/Becoming-Citizen-Centric.html)
Governments around the world have already begun seeking feedback from their citizens and implementing changes. For example, in India, the government is working on assigning digital identities, and their status as a top nation for the internet will allow them to innovate further. In New Zealand, the new SmartStart program was designed by the Department of Internal Affairs to help guide new parents through processes such as registering the birth and obtaining a national health ID number, all in one place. And in Saudi Arabia, the government created an integrated platform as part of its initiative to increase employment levels for women and young adults. (https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/now-time-governments-deliver-citizen-centric-reform/) (https://govinsider.asia/innovation/citizen-centric-government-look-like/)
By making citizen-centricity a priority, government officials can improve relationships with their constituents while maximizing internal efficiencies and saving money and time. At Extract Systems, we are passionate about process improvement and helping organizations save money. Reach out today for more information.
About the Author: Claire Means
Claire is a Database Development Specialist at Extract Systems. She started at the company as a document verifier, which gives her a unique understanding of the redaction software. Her attention to detail and high rate of accuracy prove her dedication to Extract’s success. Claire holds a certificate in Web Design from Madison College and her special interests include web analytics and search engine optimization.