New Governing Institute Study: The Future is Here and It’s Online

by Lisa Lindgren

posted on 09-27-2017

In a new study released this month, Governing Institute evaluated how effectively states use digital platforms. The study measured digital maturity levels across three parameters – usability, mobile-first design and operational efficiency – by looking at how customers pay taxes, find and apply for employment and register businesses online. While the results were mixed, the research revealed a single commonality across all 50 states – potential for improvement.

Digital success stories are there. Tennessee CIO Mark Bengel and his team are working to overcome barriers that keep legacy systems from sharing information, the biggest obstacle facing digital modernization. Paperless workflow capabilities and e-signatures allowed the state of Hawaii to reduce paper use by up to 41,000 pages per day in just one of its statewide departments. Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector for the city and county of San Francisco adopted online forms and moved to the cloud, reducing payroll expenses and speeding up the time it takes to recognize revenue.

In fact, state and local governments have made great strides in adopting digital technologies to reshape how citizens interact with government. The recent Government Experience Awards, organized by the Center for Digital Government and sponsored by Adobe, honored these jurisdictions, agencies and departments for offering citizens integrated, anticipatory and personalized electronic services.

Yet most states have room to grow. The Governing Institute study found that only nine states offer e-signatures for filing taxes; more than 90% of tax sites fail to provide mobile-responsive services; and less than 20% of states have open data sets.

Applying for employment has the highest digital maturity rates, but even there, states can improve processes to provide an even better citizen experience. As just one example, because 17 of the higher-performing states rely on a third-party service provider to process applications, states fail to capture important information about job seekers, the analysis of which can help further personalize and target communications to key demographic groups.

So why is this important? At its core, the Governing Institute study showed that digital maturity correlates with higher customer satisfaction rates and becomes a competitive differentiator to attract new businesses.

More than an afterthought, digital experiences today are a necessity increasingly demanded and expected by citizens. A simplified and easy-to-navigate website with tailored and intuitive content; a mobile-first design that identifies the access device and adjusts formatting accordingly; and the shift away from paper-based forms to online forms and e-signatures – these are all features that will help states modernize digital experiences and transform how citizens interact with government.

It’s by focusing on delivering the best digital experiences that governments can reduce costs and improve internal operations as agencies become more digitally mature. The future of customer engagement is online and “[t]hat’s the primary way we want to interact with citizens across all phases of government,” says Tennessee CIO Mark Bengel. The same should be true for all 50 states.

Topics: Government