Jul 03 2024

Citizens Benefit from Application Modernization and Identity Management

Governments should understand how to ease common burdens along the user journey.

Code for America advocates easing the citizen experience in clearing criminal records when appropriate. “A criminal record can be a life sentence to poverty, creating barriers to jobs, housing, education and more,” the nonprofit notes on its website.

But Code for America has found that the petition processes “to clear criminal records in most states is complicated and burdensome.”

Some years ago, Code for America developed a journey map of what a citizen might experience when seeking criminal record expungement in Cook County, Ill. The map documented that citizens often did not understand what was happening in the process. During check-in, observers noted in a GovLoop article, “There’s lots of time spent waiting with no information shared about what will happen.” And later, “Participants don’t know what they are waiting for or what is coming next in the process.”

When talking about state and local government, customer experience equates to citizen experience. Citizens often turn to state and local governments as “a sole-source provider” of various resources, such as obtaining a driver’s license or paying taxes, notes Digital.gov. As such, “CX is even more important in the public sector than in other organizations.”

Developing a journey map can help state and local governments ease pain points in the citizen experience and improve the delivery of services.

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Mapping the Journey for a Better Experience

Code for America advocates that governments assess processes for obtaining services, then list the steps a citizen must take to complete a task. In each step, “list the person’s experiences, pain points, and emotions, as well as useful insights that we can gain from them,” the organization notes in GovLoop.

The Georgia Technology Authority has adopted this practice. GTA offers training to government employees to begin citizen journey mapping to improve the customer experience. The agency advises employees to look at acquiring services from the point of view of someone in crisis or dealing with an emergency situation.

A person in crisis could include residents attempting to obtain information quickly to get food stamps to feed their families, GTA suggests. With that mindset, government employees should explore how government services fulfill citizens’ needs. To develop a strategy to improve citizen experience, Digital.gov recommends identifying customer needs and envisioning the ideal customer experience. Agencies can then compare the differences between the ideal state and reality.

EXPLORE: A strategic application assessment can help governments modernize. 

Why Agencies Should Consider Modernizing Applications

Legacy infrastructure and applications pose a common challenge for state and local agencies seeking to ease the citizen experience. Red Hat sums up the challenge succinctly on its website: “Monolithic infrastructure and applications cannot easily scale to accommodate large data influx from government services, creating risk at critical times.”

When modernizing applications, state and local governments may seek interoperability to empower them to share information between programs. As the National Association of State Chief Information Officers notes, a strong starting point for improving the citizen experience digitally includes government applications that remember citizens’ identities and associated data from point to point. NASCIO advocates “single access integration across program services to provide more efficient and effective outcomes” in citizen services.

“Government services and information are siloed in discrete agencies across the federal government, and also at the state and local levels, a distinction that is meaningless to an individual trying to address a need. This can also make it difficult for people to have a complete picture of what support is available,” Performance.gov notes.

READ MORE: Agencies modernize applications to boost citizen services.

How Agencies are Integrating Systems

In 2022, NASCIO and VMware conducted a study that found 69 percent of states have or are considering a documented application management strategy, while 48 percent said their applications require modernization. CIOs told NASCIO that improving customer service for citizens was the No. 1 goal of application modernization.

“We have defined application modernization as the transformation, improvement, and migration of existing IT systems. This includes adopting DevSecOps practices, and taking advantage of new tools, architectures and shifts in software development to improve operations and security at every layer,” NASCIO notes.

State and local governments can boost both operations and security with integrated identity and access management through a single service portal, a move that has become increasingly popular in the public sector post-pandemic. These solutions keep the citizen informed while reducing the burdens within a user’s journey.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITizen blog series.


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