Government can no longer afford to pursue monolithic, exquisite technology solutions. Given rising citizen expectations and the fast-changing technology landscape, state and local governments need to work closely with key stakeholders, including both citizens and IT vendors.
This vision – call it “Connected Government” – will drive IT modernization. It’s a relationship-based approach to technology that will help state and local governments meet the immediate challenges of remote work and virtual citizen service, while also helping government IT leaders keep pace with innovation.
Given the potential power of a Connected Government approach to IT services, it’s worth taking a deeper dive into how this mode of operation works.
Basics of Connected Government
Certain fundamentals, or the “brilliant basics” as I like to call them, help define a Connected Government IT strategy and form the metrics of success and feedback mechanisms for continuous improvements. These key pillars include:
Performance – The stability, quality, and security of the platform or applications. Does the service run at the levels needed to support effective citizen engagement? If someone goes to a website, is the site there, and does it respond in two seconds or in 15 seconds?
Quality and accuracy – When government relies on a vendor to deliver an application or service in the cloud, the outcomes of that process should be predictable and the service has to deliver high quality outputs. In a truly connected relationship, these outcomes are verified through agreed-upon test cycles, with government leaders and the vendor working hand in hand to ensure accuracy throughout the system.
Security – There’s a temptation in government to assume that certain IT deployments are inherently secure and therefore the vendor’s responsibility. In fact, security is a two-way street – it’s the very epitome of what it means to have a connected relationship, not just with vendors but also citizens.
Citizens need to trust governments with their data, and in turn governments must have rigorous standards around security and privacy. The best way to get there is via a collaborative approach – a connected ecosystem in which government and industry are true partners.
Making it real
Having defined a few of the key pillars of Connected Government, what does it actually mean for state and local agencies to build an IT strategy based on cooperation and collaboration?
Much of the work here will involve government and technologists working hand-in-hand to define the metrics of success.
In security, it’s important to have up-front conversations about standards. Governments often have to adhere to specific standards, which must be upheld by their primary vendor and any subcontractors. A program of ongoing audits should be put in place to ensure these standards are being met consistently.
A similar approach is required in performance and quality. All partners in the ecosystem need to collaboratively develop the metrics to define acceptable uptime, accuracy, predictability, data quality. Government and vendors can also work together to implement the ongoing reviews and checks to ensure quality service over time.
A platform approach
One way to realize this vision of Connected Government is via a technology platform designed specifically to foster collaboration between agencies and technology providers.
A cloud-based platform provides agencies with the flexibility and scalability to enable innovation, without the need to invest in new technology. Relationships evolve over time, and the relationship-based approach to IT adheres to this basic rule. COVID-19 has shown us how citizen needs will change, and new technologies will emerge. The right platform enables government to adapt and grow its IT engagements over time in response to evolving use cases.
Time is of the essence these days. Citizens expect their interactions with government to mirror the commercial world, and government cannot afford to lag behind. With a platform ensuring strong connections between government and its IT partners, agencies get a significant time-to-market benefit.
Benefits of a Connected approach
Agencies could see a number of other meaningful improvements as a result of pivoting toward a Connect Government approach. A collaborative mindset can drive increased citizen participation, more informed decision-making, and more government accountability. It also gives governments the ability to leverage mobile capabilities to support remote work and virtual citizen service.
A Connected Government also is inherently a more secure government, in that it responds to the realities of a diverse and highly complex threat landscape. Simply put: There’s security in numbers. In a constantly-shifting security environment, no one ever has all the answers. No one has complete visibility across the multiple threat vectors that could be leveraged against government targets. By working in close cooperation, government and technologists can deliver security at a higher level all across the enterprise.
As government moves away from elaborate purpose-built systems and into the collaborative world of the cloud, it makes sense for IT to revisit the way it organizes its vendor relationships. By viewing IT as a relationship between key stakeholders, Connected Government offers civic leaders a way to make the most of their cloud investments, elevating citizen service and improving productivity and security across systems and applications.