The digital transformation underway over the past three decades has proceeded in fits and starts at the government level, and federal agency websites often haven't been able to keep pace with the changing landscape. But the concept of "digital government" is no longer a talking point set in future tense. Instead, it's a mandate that federal agencies are under pressure to fulfill today.
Digital government encompasses many aspects of IT modernization, a key pillar of the President's Management Agenda: enhanced data security, cloud computing and platform integration. But from a citizen perspective, perhaps no aspect of digital government is more important than the front-facing websites and applications a person uses to access critical information on healthcare, financial matters, voting and other topics.
Private sector companies, along with the advent of phones and other mobile devices, have wholly reshaped what people expect from digital experiences within a few short years. At the same time, customer satisfaction ratings for U.S. government sites, as measured by the research firm ForeSee, have remained middling over the last decade and even slipped over the past couple of years.
Polling indicates why satisfaction matters: In the firm's survey for the second half of 2018, highly satisfied website visitors were 112% more likely to use the website as a primary resource (versus a more costly channel like the contact center).
Changes and Opportunities Ahead
Web managers at federal agencies are now facing pressure to meet a list of digital government demands in short order, from the IT modernization and data-driven priorities outlined in the President's Management Agenda to requirements for websites set out in the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (or 21st Century IDEA) for implementation by the end of this year.
While citizens' sophistication levels now tend to be high, that doesn't mean digital solutions need to be complex. Brightspot for Government provides a content management system (CMS) that makes digital government possible. This powerful and flexible government platform makes it easy for individuals to get answers to the questions they need as they interact with the public sector.
It's worth keeping the following four benefits in mind while optimizing websites in the age of digital government:
1. Streamlining Connections to Services
The ForeSee survey found that customers who have a great web experience are 131% more likely to recommend the website and 64% more likely to return. Well-organized site navigation drives these kinds of results; the same can be said for having clear information and robust ways of surfacing it.
A good website will lift barriers to services for citizens. Case in point: The newly upgraded Veterans Affairs website, for example, saw a 50% uptick in healthcare applications after launch. And in New York, the Department of Agriculture is piloting online grocery shopping for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to make benefits more compatible with how people buy food today.
Brightspot for Government makes these kinds of experiences easy to deploy, with out-of-the-box templates that can be configured thousands of ways. It also offers exceptional search and information delivery capabilities through integrations with Amazon Rekognition, Amazon Elemental, Amazon Transcribe and Amazon Comprehend.
2. Cutting Costs
Every time someone calls the IRS, it costs taxpayers $41. Yet no one wants to wait in a phone queue or in line at a government facility. Instead of fielding requests in person or on the phone, agencies can route more of them to web or mobile applications that cost far less. Having the ability to interact with customers online saves both time and money.
And as agencies such as the Department of Defense move to the cloud in order to cut costs, they'll be able to take advantage of the efficiencies and capabilities that cloud-friendly platforms like the Brightspot for Government can offer.
3. Attracting and Keeping Talent
Having a modern, flexible content platform can help federal agencies retain talent. Developers love Brightspot's flexibility, but web staffers also love how easy it makes content publishing to multiple channels. Brightspot's quick deployments and intuitive interface cut down on training time and headaches for everyone.
Agencies can also take advantage of Brightspot's automation capabilities to implement bots in the model of the General Services Administration, which is using them to take mundane, time-consuming tasks off employees' plates. You can also personalize your intranet for civil servants based on location, job function, tenure and other factors.
4. Increasing Trust
Availability on a diverse number of channels, including social media, is now so commonplace that even the CIA is launching an Instagram account. Providing easily accessible, well-organized content on multiple channels contributes to a sense of transparency, accessibility and customer service that people now expect from both private and public sectors. ForeSee respondents consistently say that a great web experience boosts trust in a government agency—by 53%, according to the latest survey.