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A new survey by Booz Allen shows citizens are more likely to access digital government services because of COVID-19. However, some citizen segments still don't perceive digital services as faster or better than in-person, phone, or mail options. The findings highlight key opportunities for federal agencies as they continue digital transformation in 2021.
You can access the full research brief here.
Digital government is no longer an aspiration for federal agencies. It’s a critical function that federal agencies are embracing—not just for efficiency, but to pursue equity in citizen services.
Whether serving a farmer seeking a business loan or a veteran applying for health benefits, digital capabilities deliver support when citizens need it, and not according to the hours of a call center or the ability to make an in-person appointment. And because of COVID-19, the Federal Government has accelerated transformation to meet essential needs in the new reality.
To understand citizens’ sentiments, in December 2020 we partnered with Morning Consult to launch a public survey to 2,000 participants. As organizations carry out ambitious IT agendas in 2021, this survey gives context around what citizens are saying about digital government services today:
Here’s what we learned that can help inform digital transformation strategies this year:
Without question, the government has firmly established itself as a provider of digital services. When asked about their options to access federal services, 70% of respondents said they're aware they can get the information or support they need online—rather than in person, on the phone, or by mail.
This high level of awareness allowed the government to provide critical services during the pandemic. It’s no surprise that over the past year, preferences changed for many Americans as day-to-day interactions became digital to preserve safety and health.
Fully 92% of respondents told us they’re more likely to access the internet from a device at home due to the coronavirus. And when we asked specifically about government services, 7 in 10 adults said concerns about getting sick caused their preference for accessing government services through the internet to change by a lot or some.
Even though digital government services are designed for speed and improved citizen outcomes, there are populations who aren’t yet convinced of the value it offers. It was especially striking that 6 in 10 (61%) adults perceive that accessing services in person, on the phone, or by mail is faster than accessing them from the internet.
Certain demographics, like the 35-44 age segment, reported a definite preference for online government services. Other demographic groups were less positive. Respondents over the age of 65, along with participants who do not have a college education, were less likely to report that they prefer to use digital government services.
When asked about data privacy in general, 7 in 10 of all respondents are somewhat concerned about protecting their information on the internet. And when comparing digital government to other institutions, 62% of participants stated that they trust financial and healthcare institutions more than government organizations to keep their personal information private.
Interestingly, the device that’s being used to access the internet matters to people. Across all respondents, the most trusted device is a desktop or laptop, perceived as better to protect personal information than mobile phones or tablets. However, 65% of respondents ages 24-34 trust a mobile phone to keep their personal information private, the highest among all age groups when rating devices.
Looking back at 2020, we’ve seen unprecedented feats of modernization. Agencies have amplified their digital services and are accommodating unprecedented levels of demand—enhancing access and outcomes for citizens. Government leaders can now turn to the next chapter of digital government services:
Federal IT leaders are at the vanguard of digital customer experience, creating products that deliver new value with every interaction. And while certain segments continue to prefer non-digital options, other segments are leaning toward a digital-first future. In fact, 40% of the respondents said they would be comfortable with the government eventually keeping a digital profile for them—eliminating the need to input similar information in multiple places and creating a more seamless experience for citizen-government interactions.
Whether or not a digital profile is the future of government, citizens are ready for the pace of change to accelerate and they expect that the Federal Government will deliver emerging capabilities that transform everyday experiences.
About our research partner Morning Consult
Morning Consult is a global data intelligence company, surveying tens of thousands of people across the globe every day.