Governments have been slow to implement digital services, but partnerships with tech companies could be the way forward.
As our world becomes increasingly digital, many industries are working overtime to meet the changing needs of customers and clients by incorporating technological innovations into their everyday operations.
One glaring exception has been the public sector. On the whole, federal, state, and local government agencies have lagged behind the private sector both in going digital and in adopting new forms of technology — so much so that a World Economic Forum report called them the “dinosaurs of the digital age.”
However, this state of affairs has begun to change. Increasingly, governments are partnering with private companies to bring digital services to citizens, giving rise to a new field known as Govtech.
The Imperative to Go Digital
The ubiquity of digital tech in many corners of the private sector has conditioned citizens to expect the convenience delivered by tech solutions in nearly all areas of life. Consequently, citizens are increasingly demanding that their interactions with government take place in the digital realm — and that these interactions achieve the level of speed and ease to which they are accustomed.
A multi-country survey from Accenture found that 67 percent of respondents say that ease of use is a key part of the appeal of their favorite apps, and that they want government agencies to streamline the process of interacting with digital services. The survey also found that just over half of respondents said they would use government digital services more often if presented with a single portal through which they could access multiple services. In short, there is substantial demand for governments to keep pace with their private sector counterparts when it comes to digital transformation.
Seeing the advantages of replacing outmoded systems, governments have begun to respond in a number of ways. Indiana, for instance, took a page from Amazon’s book when redesigning its state website.
“Everything we do, we build it under the premise that people need direction to get to where they need to go,” said Robert Paglia, Chief Administrative Officer for Indiana’s Office of Technology. “When you go to Amazon, you want a ‘thing.’ You don’t care if there are 50 or 100 service providers, you just want to get the product and get out of there. We take that same approach with our customers.”
Similarly, in Miami-Dade County, the communications and IT departments collaborated to rebuild the county website from the ground up with a more user-friendly design. Additionally, a number of states that have been using chatbots to answer citizens’ basic questions have recently expanded chatbot functionality to include complex topics such as taxes.
However, despite the recent prioritization of digital initiatives at various levels of government, progress on implementation has been slow. This is where Govtech — or partnerships between public agencies and private tech companies — comes into play.
Mutually Beneficial Public-Private Partnerships
While, at first blush, it might seem like government-big tech partnerships would reduce opportunities for smaller tech players, the opposite is true. As part of the Small Business Act, prime contractors that receive large federal contracts are often required to subcontract with small firms, especially those in HUBZones. In the case of digital government initiatives, small tech firms have already been able to play a variety of roles.
The Ohio Department of Medicaid’s adoption of Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) technology provides an excellent example of this dynamic. By partnering with a company that provides tech that supports care relationships between patients and government agencies, home healthcare providers, and other healthcare providers, the Ohio Department of Medicaid has been able to ensure that proper care is being delivered for a number of home- and community-based services.
This partnership required the involvement of a third-party contractor to provide tech support — which is where Epiphany Management Group stepped in. In addition to providing Tier 1 and 2 tech support for the company's solutions, Epiphany offers training for all device users and manages the lifecycles of the EVV devices. Epiphany is proud to be a HIPAA-compliant IT company providing world-class support services for many kinds of digital project role outs.
Contact us today to learn more.