Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at tackling digital services transformation. It established the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience, or CODE PA — an in-house team to modernize state services.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, Shapiro said CODE PA will contain a full-time, internal team of digital services experts who will be paid with existing budget dollars and work across state agencies to create digital programs, streamline online services and write code for applications and digital products.
“We are going to build a comprehensive, user-friendly online experience for all Pennsylvanians, and we are going to save taxpayers money that would otherwise go to expensive contracts with external consultants and third-party vendors,” Shapiro said.
Digital experiences made ‘easy’
Shapiro appointed Bryanna Pardoe, who most recently led a digital team at Main Line Health outside of Philadelphia, as CODE PA’s first executive director. He said she’ll lead a team of user experience designers, software engineers, product managers and data scientists.
“As a Pennsylvania resident and a digital experience professional, I’m excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform how we interact with state government,” Pardoe at the press conference. “My goal for this team is pretty simple. I want to help make digital experiences easy for every Pennsylvanian. I want our residents to have a voice in how we make it happen. And maybe this is the inner competitor in me coming out, but I want to make it the best.”
Pardoe joins two other state officials already leading digital transformation efforts: Acting Chief Information Officer Patti Chapman and Director of Digital Strategy Annie Newman. (Shapiro has yet to name a permanent installation in the CIO’s office after John MacMillan stepped down in October.)
‘No wrong door’
Shapiro pointed to state’s already vast use of digital services as proof of the need for CODE PA. In 2022, more than 5.8 million people in Pennsylvania accessed PennDOT driver and vehicle services, representing 9.9 million transactions, he said. But even as the commonwealth pushes to move services online and expands access to broadband, CODE PA’s formation won’t mean the elimination of in-person access, the governor said.
“These same services that we’re moving to a more digital platform will still be available in-person,” he said. “Like I said at the top, there will be no wrong door, and a key part of our job is figuring out how to make things equally easy to access both online and in person.”
Shapiro was joined on Tuesday by Acting Secretary of Administration Neil Weaver, who said the commonwealth consulted several organizations to create CODE PA, including the U.S. Digital Service, U.S. Digital Response, the Beeck Center at Georgetown University and 18F at the General Services Administration.
Weaver said Shapiro’s office reviewed more than 60 applications before selecting Pardoe, whose first day will be in about two weeks.
Shapiro also mentioned the CODE PA office is taking job applications through May 10 and that there is no degree requirement.