When you think of traditional government services, what word comes to mind? For many, that word is slow. To make matters worse, just when bureaucratic workflows and processes seemingly couldn’t get any slower, the pandemic struck forcing local governments to either close, run on a limited capacity, or determine how to operate with a remote workforce.
Clearly, a change was needed to improve these antiquated workflows. Innovations in digital government services are helping many localities to improve processes across departments.
For governments that haven’t yet made the transition to using digital government services, the thought of moving day-to-day tasks to an online format may seem like a big change. Don’t stress! The process is simple and the rewards are well worth the changes.
Follow along for a thorough introduction to what digital government services are and how e-government can improve processes across your county or municipal government.
What Are Digital Government Services?
Digital government services (often referred to as e-government) are technological advancements that improve on the communication, data-storage, cybersecurity, and administrative workflows for government departments.
At a high-level, the major benefits of e-government are time and money savings.
E-government services improve workflows within the scope of these 4 categories:
- Government-to-citizen relations
- Government-to-employee relations
- Government-to-business relations
- Government-to-government relations
How Has the American Rescue Plan Act Made Digital Services Available to Local Government?
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Final Rule and its corresponding summary document from the Treasury Department, published in January 2022, make clear that the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) portion of the American Rescue Plan which delivers $350 billion to state, local and Tribal governments across the country, providing "substantial flexibility to each jurisdiction to meet local needs within the four eligible categories." The final rule goes on to name investments in data and IT infrastructure as viable uses of SLFRF dollars, indicating that local governments may invest ARPA funds in the procurement of government management software such as GovPilot:
- "Technology infrastructure to improve access to and the user experience of government IT systems, as well as technology improvements to increase public access and delivery of government programs and services." (U.S. Treasury Summary document pages 28 - 29)
- "...technology infrastructure to adapt government operations to the pandemic (e.g., video conferencing software, data and case management systems)" (U.S. Treasury Summary document pages 28 - 29)
- "SLFRF may be used for modernization of cybersecurity for existing and new broadband infrastructure, regardless of their speed delivery standards. This includes modernization of hardware and software." Treasury Summary document page 40)
What Are Some Real Life Examples of E-Government Having a Positive Impact?
Maybe you’re feeling a bit skeptical that becoming an e-government will really lead to positive changes in your community. Workflows across your municipality have functioned in the same way for decades, and you’re not totally convinced that uprooting your current processes will be a positive for government workers that are set in the ways.
The honest truth is that antiquated processes are far too slow. Governments still using old-fashioned communication methods and paper file storage have made even the most simple tasks expensive and time-consuming projects.
Here are some real life examples to bring context into the many benefits of embracing digital government services:
1. Estonia Has Embraced a Fully Digital Government
The New Yorker’s description of Estonia best sums up the sheer brilliance of the Estonian government’s digital government services , “E-Estonia is the most ambitious project in technological statecraft today… The normal services that the government is involved with—legislation, voting, education, justice, health care, banking, taxes, policing, and so on—have been digitally linked across one platform, wiring up the nation,” via the cloud.
Citizens have access to all of their important documents in the cloud behind a cyber-secure password. Doctors have automatic access to relevant medical records of their patients. Outside of the transferring of physical properties, literally every other bureaucratic process in Estonia can be done online.
Estonia’s truly e-government could set the trend for more digitized governments everywhere, including the United States! In 2021, both New Jersey & Florida passed forward-thinking laws moving building processes like permitting and inspecting fully online. Learn more about these trend-setting policies here:
- NJ Electronic Permitting Law: What is Means for Municipalities
- Florida Electronic Permitting & Inspection Laws: What It Means for FL Municipalities
2. Atlantic City, NJ Masters IT Ticketing
Prior to adopting government software, the 1,100 government workers in Atlantic City were manually sending emails over to the IT department to report tech issues or requests. Needless to say, it was impossible for the government IT employees to keep track of everything coming in, meaning important issues were overlooked at the expense of other government departments and constituents.
Using IT management software, IT ticketing became completely streamlined and automated into one intuitive platform, dropping the average time to resolve a ticket from 48 hours down to just 7 minutes.
Learn more in the Atlantic City IT Ticketing Case Study.
3. Trenton, NJ Makes $4.15 Million in One Online Real Estate Auction
Prior to the pandemic, Trenton, NJ depended on in-person real estate auctions as one of main sources of municipality led local economic development. When the world shifted into lockdown, Trenton leadership understood the importance in continuing real estate auctions, even if bidders stayed at home.
The city ultimately decided to opt into using GovPilot’s digital government real estate auction service for their 2021 auction. Leveraging a press release and social media advertisements, the locality managed to encourage 372 registrants to attend, and 284 unique bidders to participate, a 278% increase in bidders from the previous auction. All 49 properties up for sale were purchased. And, bidders agreed to a 5-year term to live in or operate a business in the purchased properties, guaranteeing economic revitalization for the community as a whole.
You can learn more about this story in the Trenton, NJ Real Estate Auction case study.
What Are the Benefits of E-Government?
You may be wondering, “how will moving online benefit my local government?” In making a digital transformation for your government, you can expect the following benefits:
1. Automating Tedious, Manual Tasks
Inefficient administrative tasks slow down government processes and typically un-enjoyable for the government workers constantly performing monotonous and mindless tasks on a daily basis. Government automation does these tasks for them, saving dozens of hours a month and allowing busy government employees to prioritize more important (and rewarding) tasks.
Examples of Automation Across Departments:
- Parking Permits and Ticketing: Residents can fill out parking permit applications online which are automatically submitted to relevant government officials. Parking tickets can be paid directly via a secure payment platform.
- Municipal Courts: Court software can automatically send transcripts, appeal requests, and other documentation to constituents that request the paperwork from your government website. Court dates can be auto-scheduled. Learn more in our What to Look For in Court Management Software guide.
- Building Inspections: inspection software automates inspection scheduling by automatically scheduling inspectors to relevant buildings upon receiving a request.
2. Fully Paperless Government
All relevant applications will be made accessible from your government website, meaning that constituents will no longer need to show up at the clerk’s department to file physical paperwork. When a constituent completes an application, it will be automatically shared with relevant government officials via a secure, cloud-based interface. With all relevant documentation securely online, your government can make the environmentally-conscious and drastically more efficient switch to paperless governance.
Examples of Paperless Workflows Across Departments:
- Business Registration: Business registration can occur from a remote capacity. Constituents can apply 24/7 online which saves administrators time and encourages economic development.
- Building Permits: Construction and zoning permit requests can be filed directly online via the cloud at any time. Government officials will receive the documentation automatically, and upon their approval or denial the applicant will receive an online notification.
- Building Inspections: Mobile inspection technology allows inspectors to perform inspections efficiently and thoroughly, and automatically saves the documentation in the cloud.
3. Better Recruiting & Retention of Government Employees
With the most simple tasks automated by govtech, municipal and county employees can focus on more impactful day-to-day tasks instead. More meaningful workflows as a whole will make it easier for your community to recruit government workers and retain existing employees.
According to the Harvard Business Review, a focus on easy tasks is said to have a negative impact on long-term performance. By shifting antiquated workflows to a digital format, government employees previously stuck doing administrative work can spend their time working on higher-level tasks that pose challenges, help with learning, and will bring positive changes to your community.
Pro-Tip: Use cyber-secure cloud-based government technology to allow government officials to work remotely a few days a week in a hybrid government work culture. Doing so will appeal to existing workers AND to workers that are actively seeking remote jobs in this competitive hiring environment.
For a more extensive look at the vast challenges that govtech alleviates, read on in the Modern Government: Technology & Events Shaping The Future of the Public Sector guide.
E-Government Services - In Conclusion
As trillions in Infrastructure Bill and American Rescue Plan funds are dispersed to municipalities across the United States, you can take relief in knowing that the funds can be allocated towards digital infrastructure. Consider leveraging federal funds to adopt digital government services within your community. In doing so, you can improve processes in every department, making government workers' lives easier and saving time on mindless tasks.
To learn more about how GovPilot’s government management software can transform your municipality, schedule a free consultation.
What is E-Government?
E-government is the adoption of government technology to improve workflows related to communications and administrative tasks like filing paperwork. Govtech automates simple, time-consuming tasks and allows for constituents to file paperwork, request documents, etc. from your government website. All government data will simultaneously be stored in the cloud, allowing communities to go paperless while embracing cyber-secure software.
How Does Digital Government Technology Benefit Municipalities & Counties?
Govtech saves communities time and money. With cloud-based storage, constituents file paperwork directly online and the relevant government officials will automatically receive access. Technology known as robotic process automation automates tedious administrative tasks. Government officials can embrace hybrid work schedules, as the cloud allows relevant officials to work from anywhere.
All of these tasks can be done knowing that the cloud is more secure than physical data storage.
How to Pay for Digital Government Services?
Limited budgeting has prevented many local governments from embracing digital infrastructure. Luckily, recent legislation offered funding directly to municipalities to spend on relevant physical and digital infrastructure processes. The bills include direct funding to be allocated towards broadband technology and embracing government digital services, meaning that you can leverage federal grants to embrace high-speed internet and government management software.
Learn more in these guides:
- What the Infrastructure Bill Means for Local Governments
Can Digital Government Services Be Implemented in Every Department?
Innovations in recent years mean that every government department can embrace govtech. GovPilot offers relevant modules tailored to the demands of each department that are easily customizable to ensure that the technology integrates into your workflows with ease.
Here are real-life solutions for relevant departments in your county or municipality:
Read on for more helpful GovPilot resources for your local government:
- Government Digital Transformation: What it Means for Local Governments
- How to Build a 15-Minute City
- Building Inspections 101: How Municipalities Can Improve Public Safety
- Should The Public Sector Use the Cloud or In-House Servers
- Municipal Planning: Reclaiming Your City Streets
- What is Disaster Resilient Infrastructure?
- Disaster Preparedness: How Local Governments Build Resilient Communities
- Local Government Wildfire Mitigation & Disaster Plan
- Local Government Flood Mitigation & Disaster Plan
- Local Government Tornado Mitigation & Disaster Plan
- Pedestrian Zones & Bike Lanes: Improving City's Car Free Zones