Public trust in government is at near-historic lows in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center. Only 18 percent of Americans believe that they can trust the federal government to do what is right “just about always” (3 percent) or “most of the time” (15 percent). Although politics does play a role in public trust in government institutions, agencies and departments can build public trust by improving citizen interactions with everyday programs and services, such as paying taxes and renewing a driver’s license.
For governments looking to build trust by becoming more “citizen-centric,” improving the experience of receiving government services is one meaningful way to improve citizen satisfaction. “Services are … critical in shaping trust in and perceptions of the public sector. Citizens today expect more transparent, accessible, and responsive services from the public sector,” finds a report from McKinsey & Company on government agencies implementing a citizen-centric approach.
By reducing or eliminating administrative overhead and following suit from the private sector on how to streamline processes, local, state, and federal government agencies can more efficiently provide their constituents with more accessible, effective services.
Across sectors, industries are seeking to drive better customer experiences through digital transformation. In order to build trust and best serve citizens, governments must employ similar strategies.
Here are three tips for how governments looking to be more citizen-centric can leverage technology to cultivate trust and better serve their constituents.
1. Cut Through Red Tape in the Back Office
Over 50 percent of U.S. state and local government employees say outdated processes and technology make their jobs harder. The resulting public experience is problematic: obtaining required services can take longer than needed and seem unnecessarily complicated, and dealing with also-frustrated public sector employees can negatively affect the quality of citizens’ interactions.
Adopting technology to reduce red tape and streamline processes on the back end can be a key first step toward positively affecting the citizen experience.
For example, a work execution platform can provide agencies with the ability to reduce bottlenecks and departmental silos that can frequently occur in the delivery of government services. A secure, compliant work execution platform enables workers to work together more effectively across agencies and departments and provides visibility into real-time status updates and key metrics, speeding delivery and reduce lags that can erode citizens’ experiences and satisfaction.
2. Go Paperless
The significant administrative overhead involved in delivering government services — such as paperwork —isn’t just a cliché. For a majority of local and state government employees, such administrative tasks make it challenging to complete the work required of them within a 40 hour work week. But paperwork is not required to run government programs and services.
Much of the time spent on manual, repetitive tasks can be automated. From entering the same information into duplicate forms and data files, to providing status reports, to obtaining approvals, information tied to specific programs and services can be stored and tracked digitally.
In fact, automation could save government workers six or more hours a week, according to the Smartsheet report Automation in the Workplace. Time saved through automation can make managing projects and programs more efficient, and speed the delivery of important services to the public. Automation also reduces human error and improves accuracy, helping to restore trust in government agencies.
3. Improve How Citizens Access Information
To become more citizen-centric, government agencies must improve the ways in which citizens access government information and services. This also requires that they make a commitment to transparency, accountability, and usability by providing accurate and real-time information and secure, easy-to-use tools and data collection forms for citizens.
Two years ago, the U.S. launched Login.gov, a single sign-on (SSO) solution that allows citizens to access services and information from multiple agencies using a single username and password. But there’s still quite a bit of room for improvement for the more than 4,500 federal government websites on 400 domains. One review found that nine out of 10 such websites fall short of design and development standards.
The MGT (Modernizing Government Technology) Act aims to provide federal agencies with the budget and know-how for much-needed innovation across the board. Yet becoming truly citizen-centric isn’t just about governments undergoing digital transformation. To be seen as transparent, accessible, and responsive, government agencies at all levels must first think about how best to serve their constituents, and then apply the right technology to reduce red tape, go paperless, and give citizens transparent access to the information they need to thrive.
Smartsheet is the only work execution platform that has achieved FedRAMP In-Process Status and is listed in the FedRAMP marketplace for Federal agencies and government contractors. Learn more at smartsheet.com/government.