Many state leaders say they want to create a government that uses technology to become more efficient and convenient for its residents, but in Connecticut, there are regulations impeding such development. Legislation introduced earlier this month by Gov. Ned Lamont would eliminate some of those restrictions and make way, he said, for a state government that is leaner and provides more of its services online.
Lamont’s bill, the Act Concerning the Optimization of State Agency Operations and Services, targets bureaucracy in the state’s purchasing processes and would remove strict rules about communication with the public that would allow the state to put more of its paper-based services online.
“Citizens expect state government services to be as easy to access and convenient as online shopping or banking, but unfortunately there are laws on our books that include certain requirements blocking the adoption of moving these services online,” Lamont, who campaigned on making Connecticut an “all-digital government,” said in a press release last week. “It’s time we revise those laws and bring them into the 21st century.”
Among Lamont’s proposals are allowing all state agencies to accept online payment methods, rather than the current requirement that residents pay by check or cash. It would also eliminate a rule that mandates certain state communications be transmitted by U.S. Mail or fax.
The bill would also direct the Department of Administrative Services to develop digital identity standards so digital documents could be used. According to a press release from the governor’s office, each company currently contracted by the state for services must print, notarize, sign and upload six affidavits for each contract they hold, which state employees must then process.
Through the use of digital master contracts that consolidate the collected forms into an online format, Lamont’s office predicts the state could eliminate the use of 90,000 forms annually.
The proposal builds on work already underway to digitize more of the state government’s operations. The governor’s office claims already to have saved “tens of millions of dollars” using an online bidding platform for reverse auctions for supplies. The new legislation would afford the state the chance to do the same for the services it procures.
State Chief Information Officer Mark Raymond told StateScoop last year the state was having great success with a new “problem-based” procurement system that uses simple language to explain the state’s problems, rather than prescribing the exact solutions that vendors must provide.
“It’s meant to run very quickly, meant to bring flexibility and creativity to the solutions that we get,” Raymond said.