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FCW : June 15, 2016
June 15, 2016 FCW.COM 15 Getting government to go digital William D. Eggers details the necessary steps and provides an abundance of real-world examples for applying available technologies to the government’s processes and procedures BY CHASE GUNTER Today’s government agencies have access to technologi- cal tools that increase efficiency, reduce IT maintenance costs and simply make life easier. So why, William D. Eggers asks, do so many interac- tions with government in 2016 feel like something out of the 1980s? “We get agitated when Instagram takes two seconds longer than usual to load,” he said, “but still consider it normal to wait two hours to get a driver’s license.” Government IT is not a new subject for Eggers. He has written about e-government and dug deeply into “governing by network,” public-sector innovation and the unique challenges of driving change at government scale. In “Delivering on Digital: The Innovators and Technologies That Are Transforming Government,” Eggers — who is director of public-sector research at Deloitte — applies his decades of government reform experience to sketch a detailed vision of what a digital government might look like, how attainable it is and, most important, how we can overcome obstacles to get there. Eggers posits that the problem is not rooted in tech- nological shortcomings but rather in cultural resistance and a tendency to fall back on traditional ways of doing things — even at the expense of the user experience, efficiency and cost-cutting. He argues that HealthCare.gov was a tipping point that proved just how necessary digital superiority has become. “The public failure reprioritized digital govern- ment in a way that neither appointment, nor report, nor congressional testimony ever could,” he writes. As his focus broadens to the rest of the government, he asks the daunting, multibillion-dollar question: “So how do you take a government built on analog, industrial-era frameworks and redesign it as a fully digital state?” With the digital tools at our disposal, Eggers writes, “we must imagine a new kind of government.” Because doing that seems so overwhelming, Egg- ers eschews analytical pleas and technical jargon, and instead relies on relatable management techniques and abundant real-world success stories. He divides the challenge into five core themes critical to any digital operation: 1. Openness/transparency 2. User-focused design 3. Engagement with users during creation 4. Simplicity 5. Agility The sort of disruption Eggers describes doesn’t demand a complete overthrow of the government. Instead, it values starting small to tackle even the most onerous projects and entails thinking critically about users’ needs before harmonizing business goals with “The public failure [of HealthCare.gov] reprioritized digital government in a way that neither appointment, nor report, nor congressional testimony ever could.” — WILLIAM D. EGGERS 0615fcw_014-019.indd 15 5/25/16 3:19 PM
May 30, 2016
June 30, 2016