May 28 2021

NASCIO Midyear 2021: Public Web Services Show Promise of Modern Government

Newly created websites and those that have been updated demonstrate the impact of digital services in government, according to Arizona CIO J.R. Sloan.

During the heart of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States last year, with government buildings shuttered amid stay-at-home orders, residents still needed services from state agencies.

That’s where digital services rode to the rescue, in Arizona and many other states, according to Arizona CIO J.R. Sloan. Sloan, speaking Thursday during the virtual midyear conference of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, noted that since July 2020 the state has digitized 266 different services via the digitization of forms, electronic signatures, online payments and chatbots.

Arizona has also revamped public-facing websites and is in the process of updating or creating others to help facilitate government service delivery and recovery from the economic effects of the pandemic.

Sloan referred to those efforts during a webinar as “closing that last mile relative to digital services.” He said the work that the Arizona Department of Administration has done in those areas has “helped agency partners be able to digitally serve their constituents.”

Modern Government Websites Enable Digital Service Delivery

Arizona stood up a series of new websites over the past year designed to facilitate digital service delivery. In June, Arizona launched AZ MVD Now, an updated website for the state’s Motor Vehicle Division, which had been years in the making. It arrived at a fortuitous time, Sloan said. The website enables residents to complete more than 30 different transactions online.

A “key transformation” of the MVD experience revolved around a user identity shift, Sloan said. Previously, when residents went to the old website to perform a registration or renewal, it was an anonymous process and users had to validate their identity without using a login to proceed with the transaction.

Now, users can log in, perform multifactor authentication to verify their identity and make use of a HITRUST transaction through the digital driver’s license application. All of that reduces the possibility of fraud and builds trust with residents. The new portal itself is also more user-friendly and personalized.

Arizona also updated the public service portal for its Department of Public Safety. The portal has large buttons for accessing common transactions and a field that allows residents to simply type in the help that they are looking for, Sloan noted.

RELATED: Why improving the online experience is key to expanding digital government.

Additionally, earlier this year the state launched its vaccine registration system website in three weeks in an agile process and has been iterating on it ever since, Sloan said. That website, he said, was a “great example” to show other state agencies how agile processes can work and get new services rolled out quickly.

The state is also in the process of updating its Business One Stop site, a single destination business owners can go to access all of the permitting and services they need to operate in the state. Sloan said that the effort, which is still underway, has required working through a host of political and organizational issues and less so technical ones, as the Department of Administration worked with the Arizona secretary of state, the state’s commerce authority, department of revenue and other agencies.

A critical challenge to rolling out new digital services in state government, Sloan said, is that many agencies still operate in “silos of excellence.” That essentially boils down to individual agencies providing a great user experience for their particular service, but that experience is not then replicated across all state agencies into a common user experience.

Additionally, Sloan said, residents’ identities are still not tied together for state services, which is something he is working on with other state agencies to overcome.

“I would like to see progress,” he said. “If we can get a common identity in place, we can start to look at how we better level out the user experience across these sites and help guide our citizens to better experiences and better outcomes.”

Check out more coverage from the NASCIO 2021 Midyear Conference and follow us on Twitter at @StateTech, or the official conference Twitter account, @NASCIO, and join the conversation using the hashtag #NASCIO21.

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