Undoubtedly, the pandemic accelerated the need for a digital government with the capacity for enhanced data sharing. While federal agencies have always needed to share critical information, this need has been heightened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing information and data with stakeholders – both internal and external to the agency – has necessitated a greatly improved digital experience.
“We’ve known that an updated digital government is critical, and the pandemic has instilled the need for this even more so,” explained Nick Speece, Chief Federal Technologist, Snowflake. “We’ve also seen a need for modernized websites, digitized services and forms, accelerated use of e-signatures, and the standardization and transition to shared services. With those in place, the digital experience is enhanced for federal employees, customers, and the general public.” To comply with the act – as well as standardize and transition to shared data services – federal agencies must have the right tools in place, those with architecture that safely and securely allow for the transfer of data.
Improving the digital experience is the goal of the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA), put into place at the end of 2018. According to the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, “Customer expectations are being ratcheted up by the private sector. [As a result], government services should be delivered in ways the public now demands and expects—quick, easy, secure, [shareable], and accessible. 21st Century IDEA is a significant opportunity to improve the lives of the public by transforming how the government uses technology. It is a way to make this change happen, and it provides a clear, practical path forward.”
Under the Act, all executive branch agencies must transition to shared services, which includes utilizing data sharing practices. Additionally, they must accelerate the use of electronic signatures, digitize services and forms, and overall, improve the customer experience.
“To comply with the act – and more importantly, provide better service and meet their missions – federal agencies must leverage 21st Century IDEA guidance,” explained Speece. “In doing so, agencies are becoming more accessible, consistent, secure, and user-centric. They’re upgrading where needed to ensure that the spread of information, especially amid the changes brought forth by the pandemic, is done effectively and efficiently.”
For agencies, being able to communicate with stakeholders and constituents has always been a top priority. As the ways in which we share information and communicate change, it’s equally important for federal agencies to keep pace. The COVID-19 pandemic has given agencies a great opportunity to implement guidance from the 21st Century IDEA but the commitment to drive the digital experience must continue. With the right foundations in place, federal agencies will be able to use IDEAS to fuel today’s digital government and make a positive impact on mission goals.
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