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Suzanne Pauley

Director, eMichigan

eMichigan Director Suaznne Pauley
Things are changing in the way governments interface with the public they serve. Where the modus operandi in the past was to take information that existed on paper and put it on a website, government agencies are now moving entire services online — as well as launching their own mobile apps, publishing raw data and opening two-way dialogs with citizens.

But that’s just the most visible part of what’s happening. On the leading edge of the change, and involved in pretty much every part of how governments interact with citizens, you’ll find Suzanne Pauley, director of the eMichigan program. Pauley is, to paint with broad strokes, responsible for the state’s user experience.

“I don’t know that we necessarily started that way; I think we ended up that way,” she said. “So when I started my position, I had the websites and I had the application development team, and then it kind of grew out of that.”

Her program was responsible for moving every state agency to a single content management system, and she’s currently migrating them all to a modern CMS in batches. In Michigan, all users have the same username and password regardless of which agency they’re interacting with. And her emphasis on “unified branding” means that people are presented with a consistent look and feel across sites.

A career public servant, Pauley began as a student assistant with the state in the early 2000s. Since then she’s worked as an app developer, an analyst and a project manager — and watched as the government’s mindset slowly shifted. Today she sees far more nuance in her job, with more emphasis on engaging users and understanding their needs.

“I always wanted to make products that were usable for the people that were using them, so it wasn’t like there wasn’t thought in mind,” she said. “But I think the practice of it has evolved, meaning that there are techniques and processes that you can leverage to ensure that you’re getting the right information to build the right system, or to offer the right solution. And I think that those are the things that we’re becoming more adept at doing and understanding that it’s a discipline … make no assumptions, right? Test everything.”
Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.