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Digital government: Your digital citizens are ready, willing and waiting

Discover why meeting the demand for digital government with easy, secure and efficient transactions is critical for meeting the needs of today’s digitally engaged citizens.

Overview

Governments at every level are under pressure to better serve digital and increasingly mobile citizens. Among the most pressing questions that they face: What do today’s citizens want from digital and mobile services? What will these services look like? And how will governments deliver these services while also ensuring citizens’ privacy and security?

The Accenture Public Services Digital Pulse Survey completed in November of 2014 provides crucial information to help government agencies tackle these questions. The survey offers results and insights needed to design a 21st-century approach to better serve a fast-changing population. One of the most important findings is that when delivered effectively, digital services are a powerful tool to improve citizens’ perception of government. To achieve a successful e-government transformation, our research shows that best practice leaders determine citizens’ needs and develop digital government solutions based on those preferences, enabling agencies to deliver public service for the future.

SEE THE FULL RESULTS OF THE ACCENTURE PUBLIC SERVICES DIGITAL PULSE SURVEY [PDF]

Background

There is no question that the digital citizen has arrived. More than half of the participants in the Public Services Digital Pulse Survey said they would use digital government options—including mobile websites and apps—for routine transactions. However, they expect the same quality, security and service from government as they do from commercial businesses. Meeting those expectations presents significant challenges, especially when creating mobile services and providing secure transactions.

In the e-government landscape, perhaps nothing is changing faster than users’ move to mobile. One third of respondents said that improved mobile apps would increase their ability to conduct government business, with the number shooting up to half among younger citizens between the ages of 18-44.

For broad citizen adoption, secure access is vital. Respondents ranked assurances of privacy and security as their second-highest concern for digital government services. Amid the rising threat of cyber-attacks, secure access is even more critical for public sector sites than for businesses because of the highly sensitive data and information at stake including users’ social security numbers, health and tax records.

Leaders In Motion

In December of 2015, Accenture managing directors Peter Hutchinson and Steve Hurst presented at Governing's Leadership Forum in California. During the Forum, they were asked to share their unique perspectives on tips for improving state and local government, including Digital government. Watch the one-minute videos below to see what they had to say.

Analysis

The Public Services Digital Pulse Survey revealed the obstacles to engaging citizens and ways that governments can overcome them. The major roadblock to broader adoption is that people aren’t aware of existing digital government services. More than half of the respondents cited awareness as the key reason they’re not engaging digitally with government. The solution: raise awareness by better publicizing e-government websites.

Improving usability also is essential. More than half of those surveyed cited poor website organization as a deterrent, followed by inefficient search functions.

An analysis of the survey data offers insights into how digital government can provide a more engaging experience. The results help governments identify citizens’ priorities. When asked what is important for creating a positive digital services experience, the top demands included:

  • Quick definitive answers to inquiries

  • Security transactions that protect highly sensitive, private data

  • The ability to see the status of a request

  • Personalization, i.e., organizing information by an individual’s need

  • Integrated navigation so that users only have to enter information once

The outcomes also offer a look at what types of services governments should focus on. Respondents listed “transactions,” such as applying for licenses and paying taxes and fines, as the top activity they’d prefer to conduct digitally.

Recommendations

The Public Services Digital Pulse Survey uncovered an opportunity to engage citizens and earn their trust through forward-looking digital government services that are user-friendly, secure and efficient. But delivering an e-government transformation requires a shift in thinking.

Improved mobile access is a potentially powerful catalyst to more digitally-enabled citizens. To successfully develop secure mobile services, organizations have to consider not just apps but the entire organization—the people, processes, technology and change management needed to create mobile solutions. They also must avoid a common misstep. Too often, agencies develop mobile apps without first identifying citizens’ priorities and determining ways that mobile can make government more effective.

Addressing digital security concerns involves thinking outside the compliance box. Many organizations operate with a fundamental misconception—that compliance with regulatory mandates ensures security. It doesn’t. Public sector security leaders should tie their security programs to the organization’s mission and imperatives. Shifting from a compliance-centered mindset to an integrated, active cyber security stance helps security teams keep pace with rapidly evolving business objectives such as launching mobile services. This approach allows best practice leaders to provide secure, safe transactions along with mobility and flexibility.

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