For a technology-led, joined-up government to succeed, it is necessary to be aware of the three interaction types in government constituent service, events that Gartner refer to as ‘digital civic moments’:
• Regulatory – services such as tax collection, and the issuing of licenses that are mandatory for the constituent.
• Discretionary – those such as welfare claims or library services.
• Proactive – services that should be provided by government at key life moments, such as those previously described.
Fortunately, these interactions are beginning to be recognised across government as a whole, and there is evidence signalling that connections are starting to be made. One example is divorce, where tax obligations on transferring assets when a civil relationship ends are proactively set out alongside other related non-tax impacts and services, with access points to them provided.
So, how can we implement the right technology to facilitate this new approach, and avoid another major government programme failure as a result of a big-bang approach? Fortunately, the early disruptive influence of Government Digital Service and the Government IT Strategy from 2012 has put an end to monolithic government contracts.
Consequently, Government agencies have more flexibility when it comes to seeking appropriate digital solutions. The check-list for new solutions requires that they are:
• Allow for no vendor lock-in
It should be noted that the previous government strategy to adopt bespoke development for all solutions was a clear mistake. Moving forward, as long as avoiding vendor lock-in and other pre-requisites set out above are satisfied, new application software that facilitates agility and allows for rapid change by every government agency will gain resonance as the way forward to deliver change. As these solutions become more common throughout government, a connected approach will emerge.
By exploiting disparate legacy systems and data, whilst presenting a customer-centric service and integrating AI capabilities, we are making those first steps towards a joined-up government. Secondly, the implementation of shared process Hubs – such as those already seen across Europe, including DICTU in the Netherlands – will help streamline common services, such as payments, collections and constituent registration. Although, each agency may still utilise them from different government organisations.