By WILLIAM D. EGGERSJULY 20, 2022 08:00 AM ET
President Biden wants to make it easier and more efficient to access critical government services. Here’s some ways to make that happen.
Organizing government services around life events has become increasingly popular worldwide. Late last year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to bring life-event service delivery to citizens across the United States.
The president’s directive reorganizes the delivery of government services around five specific life events for citizens, including retirement, having children, leaving the military, surviving natural disasters and navigating financial shocks. It represents a transformational and highly impactful mindset shift for government agencies who provide critical services to Americans.
Today, accessing federal resources around any significant life event requires American citizens to navigate a time-consuming and complex obstacle course of bureaucracy. The president’s executive order aims to make it easier and more efficient to access critical government services by streamlining digital entry points, improving the quality of information about vital programs and investing meaningful resources in federal technology modernization. It can significantly strengthen the way that government agencies do business and enhance the citizen experience.
To achieve the goals outlined in the president’s directive, federal agencies will need to cooperate, share information and get their technology to better communicate – all while putting citizens, not agency convenience, at the center of their missions. Agencies can get there by embracing six key strategies:
- Put users at the heart of service integration: The citizen must remain at the center of every design choice. Agency leaders should test each new digital service improvement by conducting interviews with citizens and identifying major pain points and sources of friction. Listening to feedback from everyday Americans will help agencies fine tune their services and enhance the citizen experience.
- Design a governance model that’s right for each agency: A multi-agency project must assign accountability and determine authority. The ideal governance model for a life-event-centered service model will allow government leaders to give different agencies responsibility for different segments of the citizen experience.
- Incentivize agencies to work together through shared funding: To overworked federal staff, a whole-of-government approach can feel like an added responsibility. As one worker put it, “We’re going to be measured on our own performance, and not on cross-agency performance.” Funding mechanisms for shared responsibilities should provide appropriate incentives and give agencies more flexibility.
- Determine the right data-sharing and technology model: Sharing data makes it imperative for government computers to speak the same language. Shared Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and shared data formats can help agencies collaborate.
- Prioritize privacy and data security: Seamless API integration can make data sharing easy. It must also make data sharing secure. Offering citizens an opportunity manage their information on one central and secure platform can provide more security than requiring citizens to enter their personal information on a dozen different applications.
- Prioritize user trust: Citizens won’t try new approaches unless they trust them. And secure data protections can help strengthen citizen trust in life-event service delivery.
Each of these six strategies is mutually reinforcing. Focusing on the individual user informs an effective governance model. An effective governance model can efficaciously and efficiently distribute interagency funding. A safe API and data-sharing model ensures citizen privacy and data security. Citizens with a secure experience accessing government services will have more trust in government. And with more trust in government, agencies can continue to successfully serve the American people and fulfill their missions.
The transformation to life-event service delivery won’t be easy. It requires behind-the-scenes wrangling – from getting different agency computer systems to better share data, to aligning funding models that incentivize collaboration. But these six strategies can help advance the shift.
William D. Eggers serves as the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Government Insights. A noted expert on government reform, he has authored numerous books, including: “Delivering on Digital,” “The Solution Revolution,” “If We Can Put a Man on the Moon” and “Governing by Network.” He recently testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on CX and life events-based service delivery.