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GSA Takes on the Digital Experience

The agency is creating new efforts to help government meet new OMB directives.

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The General Services Administration (GSA) is shifting how it thinks about digital services to help meet priorities set forth in recent policy guidance around the digital customer experience.

Last month, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo providing additional policy guidance for agencies to establish a digital-first experience across government.

“Agencies are now obligated to do more investment in mobile-first digital services, more of an emphasis of making decisions based on data gathered by users, having clear communication, and more accessible websites so everyone can take advantage of digital services,” said Camille Tucker, GSA’s acting chief customer officer, during a GovLoop webinar last week.

Tucker said GSA has seen an increase in users accessing government services through mobile devices rather than desktop computers. “That changes how we approach providing digital services,” Tucker said.

But these initiatives come with a slew of challenges. Richard Matthews, the chief customer experience officer at Virginia IT Agency, said larger agencies have an advantage because they can attack digital services more aggressively.

“The larger agencies are quick to adopt — they have bigger budgets, they have the complexity to drive their program management and their procurement cycles, and they’re early adopters. They really are on the bleeding edge of technology,” Matthews said during the webinar.

Yet, smaller agencies “are just trying to keep the minimal cost, trying to keep the lights on… at the lowest cost possible,” said Matthews.

Agencies like GSA are taking on digital service delivery as a team sport in order to reduce the digital divide.

“Digital experience is shared among IT, strategic communications and customer experience,” said Tucker. “We have implemented governance. So, we have a digital experience governance board, and at the implementation level we have the digital counsel… We’ve also stood up a digital experience team in the customer experience shop.”

Tucker said one of the biggest barriers is having the resources to make improvements because it takes “a whole village” to improve a digital service.

Government leaders agree that the talent gap limits the amount of resources at agencies across the board.

“As we’re seeing some people go into the next chapter of their lives, we need to back fill and drive some of that talent to begin to help push that digital footprint forward for government to modernize,” said ServiceNow CTO Chris Lilley.

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