In just a few years, the concept of digital government has grown from a White House strategy memorandum to a full-fledged priority for federal agencies. In the past year especially, the concept has become a hot trend, with agencies across government planning and implementing projects for citizen-centric delivery of services.

The idea was officially kicked off in May 2012 in the P​presidential memorandum, "Building a 21st Century Digital Government." That document provided agencies with a 12-month road map to "enable more efficient and coordinated digital service delivery." It called for them to establish specific, measurable goals for delivering better digital services; deliver information in new ways that fully useutilize​ the power and potential of mobile and web-based technologies; ensure the safe and secure delivery and use of digital services to protect information and privacy; establish central online resources for outside developers; and to adopt new standards for making applicable G​government information open and machine-readable by default.

Since that time, momentum around digital government has built and appears to have reached its strongest levels yet this year for a number of reasons. For one thing, agencies have had time to familiar themselves with the administration’s digital government policies and are now well on their way to implementation. Second, the technology has matured and is no longer viewed as risky or cutting-​ edge. Third, early adopters at the federal, state and local government levels have proven the benefits of digital government projects.

I believe there are seven "pillars" that create the foundation for a successful digital government project. They are:

  • A hybrid IT infrastructure that leverages both legacy and digital technologies.;
  • Security that extends protection and management controls efficiently into the expanding digital environment.;
  • Advanced data analytics that exploits growing stores of data to improve citizen services, operational efficiencies,​ and mission performance.;
  • IT Service Management that provides a comprehensive, unified view of the hybrid IT environment for robust service orchestration and delivery.;
  • End-user support that empowers employees without sacrificing visibility or control.;
  • Application services that leverage DevOps to rapidly develop and deliver innovative solutions.;
  • And mobility services that ensure rigorous management and security while providing users with seamless access to applications and data anytime, anywhere,​ and on multiple devices.

With these seven pillars in place, federal leaders can become digital organizations that successfully blend modern and legacy technologies to transform their ability to deliver mission-critical services.

A great example of this is Philly311, an enhanced cloud-based customer relationship management project implemented by the City of Philadelphia with help from my company Unisys. This award-winning project gives citizens a user-centric app, easily downloadable to a mobile phone. From there, they can access a menu of services and information such as library hours, weather emergency information and snow plow schedules. The app also uses geotagging to engage with users wherever they may be to provide basic services such as the ability to report the presence of a pothole or request that graffiti be removed.

The enhanced Philly311 system made it even easier for citizens to access resources


​ and has cut down on service request entry time for both agents and citizens. As of last year, the city found that web self-service use nearly tripled from the previous year


​ and average service levels improved markedly.

Philly311 represents just one example of the potential benefits of digital government. The ability of IT staff to quickly develop and deploy new solutions will enable agencies to keep pace with accelerating technological change. Agencies will realize cost savings and operational efficiencies to help them meet expanding mission requirements, even as budgets tighten. And the ability to collect and analyze the enormous amounts of data will generate insights for improving the mission capabilities of civilian employees and government systems.

Overall, digital government is empowering government workers to bring forward the most advanced and innovative solutions for spending taxpayer dollars wisely, serving citizens and performing government’s many missions. We can expect to continue to see a profusion of examples of this throughout the remainder of the year and into the future.

Casey Coleman is group vice president for civilian agencies at Unisys Federal. She previously served as an IT executive at the General Services Administration, holding the position of CIO from 2007 to 2014.

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