State CIOs strive to craft unified, simple user experiences

Chief information officers are increasingly focused on improving the citizen experience online, state IT leaders told StateScoop.

“We’re really endeavoring to just change the way we deliver digital services,” Delaware CIO James Collins says in a video interview recorded at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference last year. “They think about us as one entity: The government. Not all these branches and divisions and sections. So we’re endeavoring to deliver services in that way.”

For state CIOs in Ohio and Pennsylvania, such an approach means putting the citizen first through new identity and access management solutions for their state governments’ digital services.

“If [citizens] want to go pay their taxes, they have an ID that they set up there, and then they go over to, say, get your hunting licenses and you’ve got to have another ID and password. Why do you have to? That doesn’t make sense,” says Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers.

In Pennsylvania, CIO John MacMillan is following an executive order from Gov. Tom Wolf driving his digital services and user-experience initiatives. Wolf’s July 2019 order marked the beginning of Pennsylvania’s multi-year “digital transformation.” In the future, MacMillan says citizens will be able to move seamlessly between services without having to login again.

“We’re super excited about reconnecting or establishing new connections for citizens to their data,” MacMillan says. “You would be able to move from one services to another without having to re-establish that identity. Think of an online retailing experience as a common metaphor for what common identities can do.”

Rodgers says citizen demand is driving the way he approaches digital services, too.

“We want to be that next Google, if you will, or Amazon,” Rodgers says. “We want to deliver that same experience. Soon, the citizens will demand that type of service from us. We want to be ready from a technology perspective.”

Colorado has already made public forays into the digital services and user experience arena, namely with the launch of the Colorado Digital Service last year. State CIO Theresa Szczurek says that to connect with their residents, the state has adopted an “anywhere, anytime” mindset.

“[We’re] looking how to provide virtual access, anywhere, anytime to our citizens to government services,” Szczurek said. “We have a number of initiatives in that area … not only mobile apps, but also improved self-service like voice and visual communications, visual chatbots, artificial intelligence and data analytics.”

This is part of StateScoop and EdScoop’s special report on user experience. Read the rest of the report.