The state capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa. 

Aug 15 2019

Pennsylvania Seeks to Transform Digital Services

The state aims to simplify access to state services via a single sign-on portal.

Pennsylvania is embarking on a long-term program to transform the state’s digital offerings and improve services for residents. 

In late July, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order to transform state digital services and make it easier for residents to communicate and interact with state agencies. The so-called Customer Service Transformation consists of multiple long-term projects that will be accomplished over several years. 

Pennsylvania aims to create a single-sign system for residents to access all state services. Another project is the establishment of a single phone number for residents to call to get access to services. A third element is developing more robust ways to collect public feedback.

“We’ll use new ideas, secure technologies, and feedback to improve the overall experience of Pennsylvanians — our customers — across state agencies,” Wolf said in a statement. “With each improvement, we will always respect each person’s privacy and ensure their data in strictly protected.”

Pennsylvania CIO John MacMillan tells StateScoop that with these initiatives, Pennsylvania is “trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number over the long run.”

“We’re always talking about this balance between supply and demand and this and that,” MacMillan says. Wolf’s office is focused on the long-term benefits of such technology investments, not just cost savings, MacMillan tells StateScoop. 


Pennsylvania Aims to Streamline Interactions with Citizens

One challenge the new initiative aims to tackle is that many residents do not know which department provides the service they’re reaching out about. The goal is to create a single online destination to access state services and make it secure using single sign-on technology that uses “consistent, modern, and secure authentication standards,” in the words of the executive order. That will help “simplify user account management and eliminate multiple login credentials.” 

The new system, called Keystone Login, is already offered by the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, the Department of General Services, the Office of Administration, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. 

“Keystone Login is more than a username and password that can be used for multiple services; it is a suite of modern identity verification tools that can provide additional levels of security based on the type of service being accessed,” Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome said in the statement. “Keystone Login will provide added convenience to our customers and allow us to strengthen our overall security.”

The order also calls for the state to establish capabilities to connect residents to existing records systems “using a consent-based approach” that will enable users to view and update their data “across agencies and program areas in a seamless fashion using a common technology identity.” 

Similarly, the state plans to establish a single phone number to connect people to services, though existing phone numbers will continue to be usable The new central phone number is expected to be announced in the next few months and will be made available to agency services in phases, according to the statement. 

The initiative will also offer new ways for the public to provide feedback about the services they receive, according to Wolf’s office. That data will be used to identify how the state can improve and innovate, and the data will be published online.

“We need to do more to listen to our customers and create mechanisms for transparency and accountability,” Colby Clabaugh, executive director of the Office of Performance Through Excellence, said in the statement. “We plan to build on the information currently being collected by agencies by expanding to more services, increasing the consistency of how we gather feedback and finding new ways to connect the data to achieve better outcomes.”

F McGady/Wikimedia Commons

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