digital government in the USHow Digital Government in the US is evolving

As governments all over the world look to make improvements to delivering citizen services effectively online, Digital Government in the US offers some examples of how it can work well.

In the U.S., the House of Representatives recently passed the “Modernizing Government Technology Act” which provides an opportunity to invest in new digital services and enhance the experience of its citizens. The current administration is working toward improving citizens’ digital interactions with government.

The Move Toward a More Digital Government

This administration’s move to more digital government services did not happen overnight. Administrations run by President Clinton, which understood the importance of the Internet and urged agencies to develop websites, and President Bush, which advanced the concept of “e-government,” led the way as the Internet exploded into our lives. The Bush team worked to move sites from view-only to transnational, and helped launch, the U.S. federal government’s first official web portal.

Following those changes, the administration led by President Obama continued the push for government to adopt the latest commercial trends. This included the launch of the initiative, the home of the U.S. government’s open data. This site currently boasts over 300,000 data sets to allow that helps to “…find data, tools, and resources to conduct research, develop web and mobile applications, design data visualizations, and more.”

President Obama also cultivated a digital transformation by having a significant presence on social media, where he conducted meetings and gave an online persona to the office of the President.

The current administration continues to build on the work of its predecessors and is shifting the perception of digital government. In the U.S., efforts continue to move away from cumbersome processes to streamlined, secure resources to the benefit of all citizens.

 Managing Challenges to Digital Government

 Transitioning government services to an online presence includes many challenges:

  • Agencies, ministries or departments that operate in silos
  • Dealing with legacy systems
  • Unnecessary processes
  • Internal and external security vulnerabilities
  • Protecting citizens’ data
  • A shortage of qualified candidates for a new workforce

As a result, there are some steps that governments can take to accelerate the digital transformation for the betterment of its citizens.

  • Modernize software: By replacing outdated systems, governments can spend money more efficiently on projects to directly benefit citizens, reduce the silos within government, and enable increased information sharing.
  • Encourage a shift in the environment and culture of government: Government must appeal to a new generation in order to secure a capable workforce that will bring new skills, insight and expertise.
  • Ensure high security standards: The public will embrace new technologies but needs to be assured that their data is safely stored and managed. High security standards must be met to safeguard important information such as health and financial records.
  •  Utilize the private sector to access new ideas: In the U.S., for instance, the Office of American Innovation provides private sector ideas, technology and information sharing to government. This kind of knowledge is essential for governments to evolve their IT capacities and deliver services effectively. Consulting the private sector will be a valuable tool for governments to find solutions to technology issues.

Final Thoughts

Canadians are not alone in the move to changing the way government agencies interact with and deliver services to their citizens. Lessons can be learned from various other countries, including the United States.  As governments look to enhance cyber, networking and security capabilities, with a view to enhancing citizen services, there are examples from which to learn while supporting the experience the public has with their government agencies.

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