Modernizing federal information technology is a far-reaching and possibly overwhelming task. There is limited budget for modernization, according to GAO data, but the upkeep of existing systems is essential. At the same time, a hiring freeze and accelerated retirement compound the potential for slower program and service delivery with a smaller workforce for program delivery.
Normally, technology is the logical answer for a mismatch between the amount of required work and the people available to do that work. But it isn’t just about transferring tasks to a technology tool, it’s about changing paper-based government processes to eliminate the tasks of government that only existed because it’s run on paper.
It’s also about taking our citizen interactions online, as they now expect, and reaping the efficiency gains that can drive.
To accomplish these goals and increase efficiency, federal agencies need a content capture strategy. They need a way to gather and collect the information transferred to agencies in the millions of interactions they have every day.
There are at least three areas where you can apply capture strategies that can both transform and improve government:
1. Shed the paper, save time and money
As discussed above, paper creates extra work. By creating ways to capture information and begin processes without paper, you can move things online and eliminate work. This means web-based electronic forms, automation like workflow software to move those forms and capture from communication channels like email or even fax.
Starting a process without paper removes tasks up and down the line while making it impossible to lose documents.
2. Replace manual entry, change the service paradigm
As an example of the work created by paper, think of the hours spent transferring data from forms into data systems. A capture strategy using the array of tools that can read paper and transfer data without manual entry allows you to re-allocate staff time, make faster progress on transactions and eliminate errors that come from typing thousands of data points into systems.
3. Go electronic and meet the new constituent
Your constituents expect the same online options they get from the private sector. Leaving behind paper forms and changing the capture of that data to an electronic form that drives the efficiency discussed above helps the digital transformation of government. The internet is where our constituents are and it is time for all processes to be available online. Doing so makes it easier for your staff to focus on the important work of impactful and efficient programs and services.
Capturing the information we used to write on forms is critical to surviving the increasing workload of government with less staff. With hiring freezes and retirement, this is no longer “a nice to have,” it’s critical to your agency’s survival.