The Future of Government Services: Part 1
In the first installment of a four-part series on the government experience, Dr Jonathan Reichental, CEO of Human Future, and Chetan Choudhury, Government Adviser, discuss the benefits, challenges and action to deliver outstanding services
In our many years of government experience, we typically only meet the most wonderful, passionate public servants who want to do the right thing every single day. Sitting on the other side of the desk or on the phone trying to deliver great customer service, they can be as frustrated by inefficient systems and processes as the community member requesting the assistance.
There are many reasons why our government experiences fail so often to meet everyone’s expectations. It’s frequently the result of insufficient funds, lack of staff training, weak systems or no systems, and an absence of incentives to detour from doing things the way they’ve always been done.
But, there’s good news.
A new generation of innovative public agency leaders and staff determined to reinvent government delivery, coupled with lower-cost, empowering technologies, is beginning to change the game in a big way.
A Forum for Discussion
To explore this topic, in February of this year, we facilitated a government services forum at the World Government Summit in Dubai. The event, which lasted several hours, was hosted by the United Arab Emirates Assistant Director General for Government Services Sector in the Prime Minister’s Office in the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, H.E Mohammed Bin Taliah. It was attended by government leaders and experts representing countries such as India, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Azerbaijan, United States, Saudi Arabia, and many others.
It was a remarkable discussion, amplified by both a consensus on the issues and the best practices for improving each of our community’s government experiences. For example, improved use of technology in general, and digital experiences in particular, were identified as essential. Legacy systems were recognized as barriers, and poor use of data and the lack of integration seen as significant limitations. It was heartening and important to hear the group agree on the importance of privacy and trust.
Changing the Game
Future success in vastly improving our government services experience is going to require more than just new technology.
It will require a new mindset. It will require reorganizing traditional government structures oriented around quality service delivery, new incentives, and greater transparency. It will need the leadership and vision to make it happen.
With much higher community expectations, and a greater appetite for digital, automated, customer-centric services, urgent action must be taken. Constituents want individualized, on-demand, and intelligent services. For example, if you are required to fill out an online form, some or all of it should already be populated using data that an agency has already captured. It should be as easy to request a basic government service as ordering a cup of coffee.
These points echoed loudly throughout the forum in Dubai.
We all should have a vested interest in the success of our communities and the experience we each have with government services. Change is happening in places where leadership is committed, and partnerships are being formed. Bringing technology and data use into the center of operations, much like the private sector has been doing for some time, in now beginning to widely happen in the public sector too.
We encourage you to read the report from our Government Services Forum at the World Government Summit, where we made a promise to continue being action-oriented, modeling behaviour for positive change, and to share our lessons with the world.