Giving Compass' Take:
- Pennsylvania pioneered the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience (CODE PA) to improve government agencies that often have outdated systems to meet community needs.
- How can donors help modernize government agencies to meet the growing digital needs of small businesses and community development projects?
- Read about applying technology to promote the public interest.
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Public perceptions about government and government service delivery are at an all-time low across the United States. Plagued government legacy systems—too often using outdated programming language—are struggling to hold up under the weight of increased demand, and IT modernization efforts are floundering at all levels of government. This is taking place against the backdrop of a rapidly digitizing world that places a premium on speedy, seamless, simple, and secure customer service.
Government’s “customers” typically confront a whiplash experience between accessing services from the private sector and government. If a customer doesn’t like the quality of service they get from a particular business, they can usually turn to any number of competitors; that same customer has no viable alternative to a service provided by government, regardless of the quality of that service.
When Governor Josh Shapiro took office earlier this year in Pennsylvania, the start of a new administration presented an opportunity to reexamine how the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania delivered services for residents and visitors. As veteran government technologist, Jennifer Pahlka, points out, government tends to be fixated on ensuring compliance with policies and procedures frequently at the expense of the people they serve. In other words, while government services may fulfill statutory and policy requirements, the speed, seamlessness, and simplicity in which that service is ultimately delivered to the end customer is oftentimes an afterthought.
There’s a chorus of voices in the growing public interest technology movement working to shift this stubborn paradigm to proactively and persistently center people at the heart of each interaction between government and the customer. In fact, Pennsylvania is part of a growing coalition of states transforming their digital services across the country. For Pennsylvania and so many states, the road to creating truly accessible digital services involves excavating a mountain of legacy systems and policies, changing cultural and organizational paradigms, and building a movement that puts people at the center of the problem.
In Pennsylvania, Governor Shapiro signed a new executive order that created the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience (CODE PA) to meet Pennsylvanians’ needs, whether it’s a resident facing financial shock or a business just getting off the ground looking for the steps they need to take to make their dream a reality. The scope of services and benefits offered by government are vast, but too often people are lost trying to navigate their way through different agency websites and application processes. CODE PA’s goal is to take the inside baseball out of accessing government support.
Read the full article about digital government services by Joe Lee, Annie Newman and Bry Pardoe at Stanford Social Innovation Review.