Making the Case for Tech Investment Through Digital Surveys

Getting involved in the Center for Digital Government’s surveys and awards programs can help you make an effective case for funding technology upgrades and provide the recognition your hardworking staff deserve.

A digital drawing of a laptop with survey questions on it.
(Shutterstock)
Technology has a whole new enhanced value to government leaders across the country, thanks to the dramatic increase in digital services and remote work. Funding is on the horizon and citizens expect so much more. At the same time, we at the Center for Digital Government are in the midst of our surveys and awards for 2021. The Digital Counties Survey deadline is approaching, but there is still time to get your submissions in. The Government Experience Awards just launched and are due to be submitted in May. 

Should you get more involved in surveys and awards during these tough times? Are they worth the time and effort? The answers are yes and yes!
 
We know that you work hard to ensure the right technologies get into the right hands at the right times. You do everything in your power to enable quality government services with powerful technologies. But it can be challenging to make the case to your leadership for why they should invest in and champion technology, especially when you are competing with other important citizen needs. Survey results and awards can be used to help you get what you need, validating your arguments to stakeholders with incredible detail. And let’s not forget our people. These have been difficult times and we are now focused on employee morale and culture more than ever. We all need opportunities to celebrate and reward the hard work of our teams. So, should you participate in surveys and awards programs? Our opinion is that you should just DO IT.
 
D: Develop
Surveys and awards provide an incredible opportunity to collect data around the great work you are doing. Gathering all of the accomplishments from the agencies and departments across your city, county or state provides an enterprise perspective that likely does not exist elsewhere. This data will give you a leg up on preparing reports for your stakeholders that could lead to a greater understanding of your mission, which in turn could enhance your ability to obtain necessary funding. The competition for resources will be difficult moving forward, but if you develop the right support you will be ahead of the game.
 
O: Organize
One of the most difficult aspects of doing what you do is to plan strategically, efficiently and effectively for what comes next. Benchmarking against your peers is an efficient way to see what is happening across the country and harvest the best ideas for your government. Using the surveys and awards to organize your initiatives helps build a foundation of information to work from while giving you the right data to determine what is next on your technology road map. 
 
I: Innovate
Innovation is more important now than ever before. What should you be doing next? What are the innovative trends that can help drive you forward? Best practices aren’t always easy to determine but you can use the surveys and awards to articulate your best practices while looking towards your peers to validate or accentuate your efforts. Bragging rights are always an important result of doing well on surveys and receiving awards. Being the best helps you push your innovations forward while gaining the status required to help get needed funding. Being recognized as the best by an unbiased third party like the Center for Digital Government elevates bragging rights to another level.
 
T: Transform
The mission of everything you do is to provide the best services possible using the most effective tools available. The post-pandemic world will require that you transform your technologies, your processes, your cultures, and your people to do just that. Collecting the data on what you have, understanding the nuances of what you do, benchmarking your innovations against your peers, preparing for the fight for the budget, and, yes, bragging a bit about what you have accomplished opens up many opportunities for you to be successful. Transforming your organization will take toughness and knowledge. The surveys and awards can help you get there.
 
For years, when we were in government, we participated in the surveys and awards provided by the Center for Digital Government and used the results to make our organizations better. Seeing all of the initiatives across the organization provided an opportunity to look for savings and efficiencies through shared contracts and services. Having our elected officials receive the accolades boosted our ability to keep pressing the edges of technology. Rewarding our teams with national recognition created a culture of success and brought us closer together. We also have to admit, there were times where we had some fun trash talking between us and our peers. That competitive spirit helped drive us to emulate each other and, in the end, provide better services with best-of-breed technologies.
 
We would like to round out our column with two quotes that sum up what we are trying to say. The first quote was in 1824 when the English writer Charles Caleb Colton exclaimed, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Learning from your peers and copying their successes is a win-win for everyone. The second quote is by the human resources expert Susan M. Heathfield, where she said, “Recognition is not a scarce resource. You can’t use it up or run out of it.” Your teams work hard to do great things; this is your chance to get them recognized.
 
For counties, you still have time to be part of our Digital Counties Survey, but the deadline is coming fast. And for states, counties, and cities, we have another opportunity for you to be recognized for your work to innovate your digital experience: The Government Experience Awards are now live. For cities, don’t worry, we will be in touch soon to launch our Digital Cities Awards, so be ready.

One last piece of data for you all: every Friday during the surveys and awards process, we are holding open office hours at 12:30-1:00 pm EST/9:30-10:00 am PST to answer questions. Email Lori Reimers if you want to participate in our office hours or drop in. Remember, we are here to help. It is time to just DO IT!