2,000 Citizens Weigh In on Digital Government

Written by Julie McPherson

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Digital Access in Government: What 2,000 Citizens Say About Online Government Services 

Still, there’s a perception problem. While citizens need digital government today more than ever, they’re not convinced that it’s faster than other service options.

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.

An Infographic that shows how people prefer to get information about government services (such as taxes, passport information or social security benefits).

Data privacy and trust is a barrier for many people in their decision to use online 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.

With these findings in hand, we can continue to meet citizens where they are through digital transformation initiatives.

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:

  • Maintain the recent momentum and build engagement in online platforms. The future of government services is digital, and we can use what we’ve learned over the last year to continue increasing the number of digital transactions and the value they offer to citizens. This requires the agility to meet citizens in the moment and respond to their changing needs. A great example is Recreation.gov and its deployment of new digital services in a matter of weeks to address unique needs during the pandemic. The platform quickly introduced features such as timed entries and contactless payment options to help people safely experience the outdoors. The website saw a 108% increase in new users during the summer season compared to the previous year, and nearly 1.4 million new accounts were created. As volume increases, Recreation.gov is using artificial intelligence (AI) in the contact center to help manage questions efficiently and best support field staff and visitors around the clock.
  • Enhance the set of digital services offered—so they’re more efficient, responsive, and transparent. While citizens may be aware of the digital services they can access, they don’t necessarily see them as better than other service options—a perception challenge government needs to tackle. Agencies that invest in capabilities to collect customer feedback and deploy improvements on an ongoing basis will benefit from continuous cycles of innovation. Most organizations require a multi-faceted customer experience (CX) strategy—including setting CX standards and policies, establishing governance structures, building staff capacity, launching a CX measurement practice, and delivering purposeful programs that impact experience on the ground.
  • Deepen understanding of users across digital government to address segmentation. The government’s digital platforms are transforming the lives of citizens and increasing equity in access. People can interact with government around the clock—when it’s most convenient and without having to arrange transportation or take time out of their workday. However, there is work to be done to reach segments that don’t believe digital government will be easier or faster for them. Agencies have an opportunity to better segment their populations to inform design and production. Our digital experience practitioners at Booz Allen prioritize this notion of “inclusive design” to ensure that diverse needs are accounted for and that solutions leave no one behind.  

Positive Signs for the Future

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. 

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