Will California Digital Strategy Mimic U.S. Digital Service?

According to the Little Hoover Commission, California should follow the federal government's model and hire tech officials from the private sector for short term IT projects.

by / October 23, 2015
Sacramento Capitol Building Pete Bobb CC by SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A new report released Thursday from the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight committee, suggests the state designate a chief customer officer and follow the lead of the federal government’s digital strategy, among other reforms to improve the public’s trust and confidence in government. The Governor-appointed Commission is dedicated to investigating California's government operations and makes recommendations based on their findings.

The report, titled “Customer-Centric Upgrade For California Government,” also urges the state launch to its own internal digital services team to work on quick-hitting projects for the benefit of Californians, and says agencies and departments should focus on a customer-centric orientation.

The state’s in-house digital team could be modeled after 18F and the U.S. Digital Service in Washington, D.C. – new federal initiatives that recruit top talent from the private sector for short, flexible stints of work – and might include innovation fellowships.

“The state should establish an in-house digital services team to recruit top innovators into state service and make Sacramento an attractive environment for creative technologists, engineers and designers to engage in public service,” the Little Hoover Commission recommended. “Given room to unleash their talent, these hires will work with customer service champions to help agencies and departments redesign processes, encourage innovation and use technology creatively to improve customer service.”

Under the Little Hoover Commission’s blueprint, the secretary of the Government Operations Agency would be designated the state’s chief customer officer, and customer champions would be named in each state agency.

The state’s digital services team would then work with those leaders to develop a priority list of projects.

“The team should work with partners outside of government to offer fellowship opportunities that would attract those with limited time to work on shorter-term projects, but also create an office out of which those with longer-term aspirations could operate. The agency should grant the team the flexibility to approach their work using human-centered design techniques that allow for experimentation through small pilot projects,” the commission said.

Little Hoover Commission Chair Pedro Nava said improving customer service in state government is both about technology and making customer service an organizational area of focus.

“We believe these groundbreaking recommendations, once implemented, will materially help Californians get the high quality services they are entitled to receive,” Nava said.

To prepare the report, the commission interviewed dozens of state officials and private-sector experts at a series of hearings and meetings.

This article was originally published on TechWire.

Matt Williams Contributing Writer

Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines. He also previously served as the managing editor of TechWire, a sister publication to Government Technology.2