How to build customer-focused government

What: A report on improving government responsiveness, “A Customer-Centric Upgrade for California Government,”   from the state’s Little Hoover Commission, an independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs.

Why: Recent surveys show how deep Californians’ distrust of state government has grown. A 2015 statewide survey found that that two-thirds of respondents said state government can be trusted to do what is right only some of the time or never. And since August 2002, statewide surveys by the Public Policy Institute of California showed more than 60 percent of Californians expressing a high distrust in state government’s effectiveness, responsiveness and efficiency.

Findings: The Commission believes state agencies can improve the public’s trust and confidence in government by that focusing on the customer. Delivering fast and convenient services when residents apply for benefits, pay utility bills, register their vehicles and view taxes and all from one personalized log-in account, could be a step towards becoming more customer focused.

Among the Commission’s recommendations:

  • Create a digital services team to recruit top technologists, engineers and designers into public service for the state.
  • Research customer experiences for continuous improvement and use the data to refine how agencies deliver services
  • Build multiple service pathways, including mail, email, telephone, fax, in person, online or on a mobile device.
  • Move beyond mobile apps with the goal of offering the most options for Californians to conveniently access government services whatever the platform they choose to use (including in-person and on paper).
  • Unlock the promise of government data to improve transparency and inform decision making.
  • Leverage data resources by ensuring information is available in formats that can be leveraged by others to get information to Californians where they already go to seek it.
  • Connect the state’s technology sector with state government leaders and welcome innovators to help address some of the state’s most pressing challenges.

Takeaway: The Commission believes engaging with the public in a way that makes sense in the 21st century will improve each Californian’s interactions with government, which will in turn improve residents’ trust in the state and the efficiency of government processes.

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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