Moving Beyond Digitized Agency Services to Deliver Truly Frictionless Government Experiences

Moving Beyond Digitized Agency Services to Deliver Truly Frictionless Government Experiences

Government agencies have long sought to use digital channels to deliver more efficient and effective services, but these efforts have achieved mixed results. In some cases, even small, local agencies have found ways to elevate resident experiences. In others, large states with ample budgets have sometimes fallen short of goals.

A major stumbling block has been the lack of consistency in service delivery from one agency to the next. Residents might have an excellent experience with one organization but then a cumbersome, frustrating encounter with the next.

The solution is to approach digitized service delivery in a more holistic and imaginative way. What if state, city and local governments could leverage a secure, distributed repository of reusable resident data, which residents could control and use to easily consume a broad range of services?

With the right data management strategy and technology, that vision is achievable today.

Digital Services Defects: One After One, but Never Done

Let’s say that, over the course of a week or two, a state resident wants to register to vote, request a duplicate vehicle registration, apply for child support, file a claim for unemployment compensation, and apply for emergency rental assistance.

She can perform all those tasks online. But for each of them, she faces a separate, repetitive process of filling out forms and providing personal information. Much of that information is duplicated, even though little of it is specific to the task at hand. Just as significant, she has no control over who accesses her data, and no clear knowledge of how that data is being protected and used.

Governments have tried to address these issues in a number of ways. Some agencies have created a single look and feel across online and mobile platforms. Some cities have provided single sign-on for multiple services. Some states have tried to offer a “common front door” or “no wrong door” approach for a multichannel experience.

But none of these efforts has addressed the fundamental issue: poor customer experiences resulting from onerous online processes, lack of visibility and control, and inefficient data management.

A New Vision: Self-Sovereign Identities & Cross-Agency Data Sharing

The solution is effective data management and secure data sharing that enables the creation of secure, government-wide digital resident identities. The result is truly frictionless government services, more satisfying customer experiences, and renewed resident trust in the agencies intended to serve them.

This innovative approach starts with a secure self-sovereign identity (SSI) accessible at the state, city or local level. Residents register once, providing definitive proof that they are who they say they are. They create a profile of core personal information – all the details any agency requires to deliver a specific service.

Crucially, residents retain full control of how their information is used. They can allow all agencies to access it by default. Alternatively, they can allow access by one agency but not another. Or, they can manually approve access by a new agency as the need arises.

In this way, residents can use their SSI to consume services government-wide. For each service, they need to provide additional details relevant only to that service. But their identity has already been authenticated by the secure data repository, and the core data they had to re-enter in the past is already available to the new service they want to consume.

At the same time, residents can be confident their data is safeguarded in a secure repository. They don’t have to worry about whether each agency is maintaining a secure system or whether their data is being used or shared without their knowledge.

A Ripple Effect of Digital Advantages

An initiative to establish SSIs might be spearheaded by a governor or mayor, or it might begin at the state or city CIO level. In other cases, innovative agencies might come together to lead the charge.

What’s required in any of these scenarios is an easy-to-access repository of trusted data –centralized or distributed – to enable data discovery, exploration, integration, and sharing. Also necessary are the technology to manage it, the tools to secure it and the legal framework to ensure safe and effective data sharing.

An example of how this approach can work is the Framework for Addiction Analysis and Community Transformation (FAACT), an initiative to combat opioid abuse in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Developed with the help of Voyatek, this data-sharing platform combines previously siloed information from agencies, secretariats, localities, social services, public safety, corrections, drug courts and more. FAACT has been so successful that it was expanded to better manage the Covid-19 crisis in the Commonwealth.

The benefits of SSIs and cross-agency data sharing would accrue to agencies and residents alike. Governments would have a single location where they could secure, manage and access resident information. They wouldn’t need to reinvest the time and effort to build that process into every agency service. They could also significantly reduce the amount of missing data and incomplete forms. And they could improve resident satisfaction and trust in government.

Residents, for their parts, would no longer have to endure an arduous, frustrating process every time they needed to interact with a government service. They would have peace of mind that their data is accurate and protected. And they’d have greater confidence and satisfaction in the government organizations intended to serve them.