Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Who Cares About Digital Government Services?

By Dennis D. McDonald

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I’m looking forward to reading the new Forrester Research report Washington Must Work Harder to Spur Public’s Interest in Digital Government that is mentioned by the Federal Times in its article Survey: Most Americans don’t care about digital services.

While I’m sure the $449 report contains a lot of useful information, I do hope the authors of the report – and the Federal executives that read it – keep in mind that (a) digital and web based channels are only a subset of the many ways open to them for interacting with the public and (b) how services are requested and delivered need to coordinated across both digital and non-digital channels.

For industry customer service managers that’s pretty standard stuff. You want the same “message” (or service) to get to the customer regardless of whether the customer is a walk-in, a call-in, or interacting via a dedicated smartphone app. This implies that you have the management processes to ensure that all customer touch points are on the same page.

People also have different channel preferences depending on whether they are alone or with others, are on the road or at home, or are seeking a quick bit of information, performing an infrequent transaction,  or are doing serious or complex research with significant health or financial consequences.

We also need to be clear about why we are pursuing “digital government.” Are we trying to save money by pushing more citizens to online self service? Are we trying to make service delivery more consistent across all the individuals and organizations involved? Are we starting out with easy-to-digitize “low hanging fruit” types of services? Or, are we focusing on core, mission-critical citizen services with life-or-death consequences?

In reality, of course, much of government is already “digital.” Few if any agencies or programs do not already employ computers and networking in some form to operate, even when the “last mile” to the citizen involves manual or human-delivered service. Perhaps the correct question should not be, “How can we provide better digital government services?” but rather, “How can we provide better government services through all the means at our disposal?”

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Copyright © 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. Dennis is a management consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia. His experience includes consulting company ownership and management, database publishing and data transformation, managing the integration of large systems, corporate technology strategy, social media adoption, statistical research, and IT cost analysis. Clients have included the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Library of Medicine. He has worked as a project manager, analyst, and researcher in the U.S. and in Europe, Egypt, and China. His web site is located at and his email address is On Twitter he is @ddmcd

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