Through this report, we aim to provide timely insights on the potential to harness information and technology to benefit both the service provider and the service consumer. We believe that, by understanding the opportunities, and thoughtfully addressing the challenges, governments can make a transformational shift from delivering programs one agency at a time to focusing on their role from the citizen’s perspective.
Just as technology is profoundly changing the way we live, communicate and interact, it is also transforming the provision of human and social services, offering new ways for governments to deliver services and connect with citizens.
Governments are embracing technological transformation to do more with less — in light of tighter budgets — and also to help government leaders do more to help their constituents, who today want their interactions with government to be convenient and quick.
But governments face enormous hurdles in doing so. These bulky complex, and multi-layered organizations have significant structural and operational challenges.1 Their great size creates an institutional aversion to risk, and their monopoly position may stunt the incentive to innovate to retain their customers. They are also characterized by a compartmentalized, silo mentality, in which departments develop unique processes and customized IT solutions, and are subject to strong budgetary pressures that often preserve outmoded technology and procedures.
While the challenges of introducing new technologies are significant, they are temporary in nature when compared to the long-term benefits of digitalization. This technology enables the exchange of information on a previously unimaginable scale, allowing related government agencies and external service providers to share data and coordinate efforts. It also provides governments with far more data than ever before about what citizens need, who uses these services, how they do so and with what effect.
In addition, new technology is making services more efficient and effective. For example, as we explore in the following pages, mobile apps can improve service delivery to vulnerable citizens while predictive analytics can help governments better protect children, prevent homelessness and anticipate service demand, often at a lower cost. And, these innovations align with the rising expectations of citizens who are accustomed to digital commercial interactions and want government to have contemporary communication and service delivery systems.
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