Seamless access to a range of government services isn’t generally what comes to mind when we think of interacting with the government. We are accustomed to lengthy, often tedious interactions with numerous different departments and agencies to complete tasks such as paying taxes, claiming our pension or receiving a marriage certificate.

Each of these interactions requires citizen effort and time and creates additional cost and complexity for the government.

In a world where the personal lives of citizens are becoming increasingly digital, and the speed of interactions and query resolutions is becoming ever more important, the non-digital government services are considered to be ‘inaccessible and inconvenient’ and the requirement to repeat the same information to multiple government agencies can be tiresome and frustrating for citizens.  

So how can government departments, which have often been slow to embrace digital, transform the services they provide? In a recent Capgemini report, ‘Let’s Get Radical,’ we look at getting radical with public sector digital transformation.

The paper explains how the government needs to develop a new relationship with its citizens by “thinking differently about how citizens engage with public agencies, when they engage, and why – and how to use digital technology to reorganise public services around the citizen.” By moving away from concentrating on specific citizen interactions and redesigning services to put the citizen at the centre, a cross-government approach which provides citizens with seamless access to services across the government can be a reality. 

The citizen lifecycle

Digital initiatives within government currently focus on creating transactional improvements for specific departments. By shifting gears and focussing on citizen life events and the context of citizen interactions – the government can build a holistic, radical end-to-end transaction flow.

By putting the citizen lifecycle at the centre and integrating the government’s processing of citizens:

  • Citizens benefit from

    • Simpler, less time-consuming interactions
    • Faster service
  • Government agencies benefit from

    • Reduced internal processing costs
    • Improved data accuracy
    • Real-time insight
    • Improved compliance

What’s stopping the transformation?

The radical transformation required to achieve an end-end transaction is just that: radical. However, it won’t happen overnight. Given the scale of the required transformation and the number of different stakeholders, systems and varying objectives involved, there are a number of obstacles that need to be overcome.

Who will own such a large scale transformation that traverses multiple departments with complex structures and even more complex stakeholder models? And who will be accountable? How will the government maintain individuals’ rights and privacy while sharing the necessary citizen data across departments?

Fundamental decisions will be required on cross-agency ownership, cross-agency governance and cross- government data interchange.

And while joining the dots of legacy departments and agencies that have operated in silos for years may seem like a big enough task, to successfully implement digital transformation the government will also need to:

  • Ensure that all departments continue to cater for and provide equal services to digitally illiterate citizens by establishing digital transformation in a channel-agnostic way
  • Connect agile development techniques, open-source software and user-centric design with the established IT systems across the estate
  • Work around the digital skill limitations and shortage which exist

No one is suggesting it’ll be an easy task, but it’s a necessary transformation.  As ‘Let’s Get Radical’ states, “the digital revolution should be welcomed by public sector organisations because it promises improved, more responsive and more controlled IT for internal users, and hence more effective services for the public. But at the same time, it’s vital to be realistic about the starting position for each specific organisation, and work with its culture rather than against it.”

For more information on digital transformation within the public sector, read the full Let’s Get Radical paper.