In this interview, Lorna Stark, Government Sector Leader for KPMG, discusses how state and local governments can continue to modernize even as they respond to the challenges brought by COVID-19.
Has your definition of modern government changed as we have gone through the pandemic? We still believe a modern government is one that is connected, trusted and powered, meaning it has the agility to modernize how it delivers services. What has changed is the pace that governments are looking to modernize, which is driven by the impact of COVID-19 on the demand for their services.
Many governments have already implemented significant changes to their workflows and how their employees deliver services. For example, the District of Columbia accelerated development and deployment of a mobile app that allows residents to apply and recertify their eligibility for human services benefits. In just the first few months, the DC Access mobile app was downloaded almost 10,000 times and used for more than 3,000 new benefits applications.
The pandemic also brought to the forefront things we had not thought about modernizing before. As one example, the California Secretary of State created a new California Business Connect program that allows business owners to submit applications and receive certifications without going into an office.
For the longer term, COVID-19 has shed light on the need to replace legacy systems and their related business processes – think about all the processes around applying for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
The first interdependency is sharing data and connecting across levels of government and jurisdictions. Second is understanding a citizen’s journey for receiving services and building delivery processes with the recipient at the center. Third is retraining the government workforce to deliver services remotely and powered by new technologies.
State and local governments are facing huge budget reductions. How will they meet the increasing demand for services as governments and society reopens? There will be waves of demand for backed-up services as reopening continues. We have seen this already with motor vehicle agencies and will likely see similar surges in areas such as business services and building permits.
Investing in modernization for these services will be very difficult for cash-strapped governments. One strategy would be to look at how to re-invest savings and to get started now governments can apply federal grants where applicable, starting with CARES Act funding to modernize health care-related services.
School districts provide a good example of the need for an enterprise strategy. Not all were prepared with district-wide technologies or data solutions to enable remote learning, which meant much needed to be done at the school level. The pandemic itself brings new demands for data sharing across the public and private sectors to support activities that are critical for maintaining public health though testing and contact tracing.
For more information, visit Read.kpmg.us/covidgov
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