Absorbing the Complexity

April 28, 2012

The U.S. federal Digital Government Strategy is worth a look. This report provides some interesting examples of the shifting digital landscape, for instance that, “mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to grow from nearly 1 billion in 2011 to over 5 billion globally in 2016.”  And, also a critical look at the state of government web-based communication.

Here are a few examples of observations that the report makes about the state of digital government now and how it can be improved:

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Absorbing the Complexity of the Government

A common theme from the National Dialogue for Improving Federal Websites was that the Federal Government needs to change to a culture of customer service. A key part of that shift is the need to start absorbing the complexity of the Government on behalf of the citizen. As one participant wrote, “Customers don’t know — and don’t care to know — how government is organized. So why make them go from agency [website] to agency [website] to get the full picture of what gov’t has to offer on any subject?”

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Opportunities to Share

In the State of the Federal Web Report, agencies reported 150 separate implementations of 42 different systems used to create and publish content and 250 web hosting providers.

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The Need for Open Content Management Solutions

According to the State of the Federal Web Report, over 43% of federal agencies currently do not use CMS solutions for publishing content online. In many cases, the lack of CMS means maintaining and updating websites is an inefficient, manual process.

A prominent theme from the National Dialogue on Improving Federal Websites was the need to phase out the use of custom-built technology. Participants in the dialogue recommended that the Federal Government use open source technology to enable more sharing of data and make content more accessible. “Encourage use of popular Open Source platforms” was one of the many ideas submitted in this vein and generated robust discussion.

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Fragmented…

Three separate federal agencies located in Atlanta pay three different monthly service plan rates for unlimited data on the same type of device – $39, $94, and $120 – a significant price variance of $81.

…and Centralized

In 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) centralized its wireless procurement by collapsing over 700 separate contracts into three blanket purchase agreements (BPA), resulting in acquisition cost savings of 18%.

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See the full report for more details and an overall action plan.

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Policy, Systems