Digital Services (2021)

Governments are becoming more sophisticated in how they approach digital services — embracing principles like human-centered design and agile development cycles. And they’re aiming high, aspiring to match the convenience and accessibility offered by major retailers and tech giants in the private sector, but the COVID-19 pandemic revealed just how far government has to go before it can offer the public the seamless, secure and personalized experience that officials have long gushed about.

Heads of digital service divisions in New Jersey and Colorado told StateScoop their efforts are evolving as they’ve sorted through the demands of the health crisis and that lawmakers are listening. The Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation is starting to catalog the efforts in states digital service divisions so they can be replicated on a wide scale.

Universities are transforming, too, undergoing many of the same changes as government after being pressured by distance work and new demands from their constituents. Digital learning materials and platforms were adopted even faster during the health crisis.

Jeremy Goldberg, who served as New York State’s interim chief information officer in 2020, said the public sector has been inching toward a new ideal.

“As dramatic as some of the improvements have been in the last year, they are in many cases also only a first step,” he said.