If there is one silver lining to COVID-19, it’s that it woke society up to how many things were ripe for innovation. Local government is no exception. With many inefficiencies exposed by the pandemic, local governments across the country are moving towards cloud-based infrastructure. Digitizing government wields the potential to improve the lives of government workers and their constituents for years to come.
But why is the digital transformation of government so important? And, how can state and local governments take action to get their antiquated infrastructure updated and improved upon? Learn more about how governments have adapted during the pandemic, and how your local government can apply similar innovations.
Why is Digital Transformation Important For the Government?
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the United States to lockdown in March 2020, constituents became more dependent on their local governments than ever before.
Local businesses needed loans and financial support. Accessing information related to local testing and vaccination sites for COVID-19 became critical for millions. Filling out permits and submitting forms in-person was no longer safe, but community members still needed paperwork filed. Business continuity became extremely difficult for many local governments when offices were forced to close due to social distancing health and safety measures.
Thus, governments of all shapes and sizes were exposed as inefficient at a time when support from local government became especially vital. The pandemic caused a rethinking of government operations and showed a need to improve civic engagement and public participation.
Now, governments across the country at the state and local level are updating their IT infrastructure and improving their processes to win constituents’ trust back.
What Are the Benefits of Government Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation provides the means for governments to improve civic engagement, save time and money, and expedite the COVID-19 recovery process while setting up governments for success for decades to come.
Check out some of the ways that your local communities can benefit from moving online:
Digitized Form Filing
Even before COVID-19, filing paperwork in-person was inconvenient and time consuming. Now, at-risk constituents are avoiding contact with people from outside of their homes.
Very few people are actively trying to file paperwork at their town hall anymore. Even the fillable, digital PDFs so often hosted on local governments’ websites are incredibly inefficient. After all, a government employee will likely need to transpose, print, or resend the information contained in the PDF into a legacy system or to another department. This is extremely time consuming.
Luckily, technology exists so that they don’t have to. With digital form modules, constituents can easily register businesses and/or file licenses and permits from the comfort of their home, and the data submitted is captured and stored automatically on the back end, so that employees across all departments can process records quickly and efficiently.
Save Time in the Clerk Office
A huge portion of government work is related to administrative tasks. With forms for filing permits and licenses made accessible over the internet, administrative workers no longer need to manually file paperwork filled out by thousands of constituents and businesses every year.
Administrative employees can focus their time elsewhere, with one local government Clerk Department in New Jersey reporting 40 hours of time per month saved as a result of digitized forms.
Remote Government Workers
No one wants to put themselves or their family at risk during a pandemic or other emergency, but unfortunately antiquated infrastructure has left many government workers with no choice but to work from the office in order to deliver services and ensure business continuity.
Not anymore. Working from the cloud means that government employees can work from the safety of their home, which has been noted to drastically improve productivity.
Improve Constituent Experience
Many constituents felt frustration with the federal, state, and local government as a result of the lockdowns. As a result, civic engagement took a turn for the worse across the nation. Digital services can win your constituents back. People want to be able to get things done quickly - they expect convenience - and for the first time, local governments can deliver.
Online filing saves everyone time and improves quality of life. No longer do business owners need to take time out of their busy schedules to run to the town hall to file tedious paperwork. New pet owners can get their pet licenses squared away at home in just minutes.
Digital transformation also makes it easier for constituents to contact their local officials. With tools like report-a-concern software, constituents can improve their civic engagement by directly contacting their local government with a mobile application.
How Can A Local Government Move Online?
While the trends show the benefits of a digital transformation, many local governments don’t know where to begin.
Here is how your government can effectively move online:
Use Federal Funding
As a result of the American Rescue Plan, the federal government put millions of dollars into the hands of state governments and local municipalities.
The text of the bill clarified that government funding can be used to update IT infrastructure. That means that once your local government receives its stimulus money, some of it can be allocated to improve on existing inefficiencies that can better the lives of the entire community.
Train Government Workers
Quick innovation can be challenging for government workers that are used to antiquated processes. Luckily, high-quality government software is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly.
In one case, a Clerks reported that it took less than a day to learn and get used to GovPilot’s administrative software.
Encourage Constituent Engagement
Spread the word! As you take the time to implement digital filing systems and communication software, your local community will need to be made aware.
Let your constituents know that they no longer need to file paperwork or pay for permits in-person. Now, they can go to your website and do it in a few easy clicks.
Also make it clear that community members can report concerns via a mobile app. Geographic Information System Maps (GIS) mean that anyone within your jurisdiction can download a mobile app and pass along information as needed to government officials. The government can now receive more valuable insights from community members in real-time, notify constituents automatically of the status of their concern, and can track data to look at reoccurring issues that can be addressed in the future.
Overall, it’s clear the digitizing local government is a necessity for the future. No longer are time-consuming, antiquated processes acceptable in a society innovating like never before. Some, local governments are even considering how the blockchain and cryptocurrencies might play a role in operations.
If you want to improve the lives of your government employees and constituents, consider using your Federal relief funds to make the switch to cloud-based software.
Want to improve the constituent experience? Exploring digital transformation? Schedule time with a GovPilot solutions specialist. We look forward to learning about your goals!