Meeting citizens' expectations in the digital age
Public trust in government is underpinned by different ‘rules’ that often cascade from legislation (high-level, aspirational) to policy (interpretations of the operational intent of legislation) to regulation (operational, specific and transactional).
These rules are the basis for all government decision making. They are complicated, generally not user-friendly and require expertise to understand. Often they are overlapping and contradictory, and sometimes downright inaccurate and unfair.
This makes it very difficult for the average citizen to understand them — how to stay on the right side of them, and how to take legitimate advantage of rules and programs — ultimately requiring expert assistance.
Most governments struggle with this complexity too, relying on a very high level of employee knowledge and experience, a high level of patience from citizens, and tactical attempts to support better decision-making through the use of IT-heavy, code-based systems that focus on IT efficiency rather than customer experience.
And all decisions that government makes need to be auditable in order to underpin public trust.
Against this backdrop, governments around the world are facing an unprecedented challenge through disruption such as the ‘Experience Economy’. The expectations of citizens are escalating at a rate that government cannot keep up with — and worse, they are not funded adequately to meet the challenge, yet alone get ahead of it!
The rise of large and powerful cohorts such as the ‘millennials,’ who will soon be a major part of the global workforce, is adding to this challenge. They are ‘digital natives,’ born with the Internet and mobility, and driving a wave of change in non-government sectors that is reshaping entire industries.
There is a natural flow-on from this disruption into their engagement with government — they are ‘digitally impatient,’ and have been conditioned to expect government to be as easy to deal with as their favourite online shopping site.
Most government agencies also lack the ‘competitive tension’ that drives innovation and funding in non-government sectors — in most cases they have relative or absolute monopolies that can lead to institutional resistance to real, customer-focused change.
The rules are also becoming more complicated as governments struggle to keep pace with disruptive change in industries such as banking, insurance, transport and travel.
This all sounds pretty dire, but there is a way of meeting all these challenges simultaneously! Through the use of capabilities such as Oracle Policy Automation (OPA), government agencies can:
- Enable the ‘legislation, policy or regulation’ owner to capture the rules in natural language. No specialist IT skills are needed apart from knowing how to use Microsoft Word and Excel.
- Test that the rules provide the outcomes intended, and refine them in real time without needing specialist IT skills.
- Update the rules as they change without needing a large and expensive IT team.
- Enable citizens to engage with the rules through a ‘guided digital interview’ — just like a one-on-one, face-to-face interview with a subject matter expert — except through a variety of UIs (web, mobile, chatbot, smart-speaker etc).
- Provide a complete and comprehensive decision report in natural language for every guided digital interview — essentially an audit trail of the engagement with the virtual SME, and one that is 100% accurate and aligned to the source rules.
- Enable government employees of all experience levels to become ‘instant experts’ through the use of the same guided digital interview approach, while safeguarding against the loss of valuable knowledge when experienced employees leave or retire.
- Use the guided digital interview to reduce the number of employees needed to handle many citizen enquiries, instead redeploying those employees to higher-value tasks that focus on a better citizen experience.
- Use the same rules that drive the guided digital interview to drive complex calculations for government benefits, payments, entitlements and so on, reducing the potential for error and the time to distribute.
- Inject the rules and associated logic into existing internal/external online systems, enabling government to leverage existing investments.
In summary, OPA enables government to deliver instantaneous, individualised service and advice to employees and citizens that is 100% accurate, and always explains the interaction in language that the user can understand. When you consider the demands of the Experience Economy and cohorts such as millennials, OPA is the ideal capability to help government meet its unenviable challenge.
One final point: imagine if you migrated all legislation, policy and regulation to OPA — you could dramatically streamline the operation of government, dramatically reduce costs and dramatically increase public trust through the delivery of more accurate and understandable decisions.
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