Traditional government vs digital government: Which is best?

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When you think of the word “traditional” in reference to a workplace, what comes to mind? You’ll likely think of old-school ways of working, following processes that haven’t changed for decades. Unfortunately, government agencies tend to fit this description, especially when it comes to back-office functions and administrative matters.

Thanks to digital technology advancements, however, that’s beginning to change. While many government agencies and departments still follow more traditional ways of working, others are striving to redesign their processes using the latest technology tools and systems. This initiative is called digital transformation, and its perceived benefits are compelling enough that many government organizations are accelerating their efforts to bring it about.

You might be wondering whether going digital is truly worth the time and investment or whether there’s a benefit to doing things the way you always have.

This article looks at traditional government vs digital government work practices and explains which is best. It also offers a software solution that can support many departments and agencies interested in making a change.

What is a traditional government?

A traditional government in this sense is one in which employees and citizens have to perform most processes manually rather than digitally. In a traditional government approach, few, if any, digital technology solutions are part of day-to-day operations.

While manual processes can sometimes make operations slow and inefficient, some people prefer this form of government because it involves some kind of personal interaction. For example, to apply for a permit, a citizen must come into a government agency office, fill out a form by hand, bring it to a clerk, and receive their permit in person. In this scenario, citizens have the opportunity to engage directly with government employees.

What is a digital government?

In contrast to a traditional government, a digital government uses technology to enhance everyday operations. Online booking solutions, fillable PDF forms, mobile applications, and more serve to enhance efficiency, save taxpayer money, and improve the quality of operations. Digital governments also provide other benefits, such as greater accessibility and transparency.

“Residents should be able to easily access services anytime, anywhere, which increases inclusivity,” says Aja Brown, former mayor of Compton, California, and senior director of impact and communications at FORWARD, a program administration platform for the public sector.

In a digital government, data is primarily stored digitally as well, rather than in paper files. These types of digital solutions make it easier to share data with the right people, both internally and externally.

“Providing access to data ensures constituents and administrators can easily monitor and track government operations, promoting accountability at every level of government, which is essential to improving outcomes,” says Brown.

Traditional government vs digital government: How do they compare?

Most likely, you’re reading this because you’re part of a traditional government agency that’s considering going digital. So, is going digital worth the effort?

In terms of efficiency, operational costs, and timelines, digital governments work better for most citizens and employees. With the right tools, government employees can serve more citizens, offer greater accessibility and transparency, and streamline internal workflows to get work done faster.

Also, “digitization reduces paper use and physical travel, contributing to environmental sustainability while making services more readily available to every individual, enhancing societal inclusivity,” says Justin Insalaco, a retired police officer and a strategic adviser to Atlas One, which offers public safety digital communications. “As a digital transformation expert in the public sector, I see these benefits as significant milestones on the path to a digitally enabled, efficient, and inclusive government.”

While a traditional government offers face-to-face interaction between public sector employees and citizens, that kind of interaction can also exist in a digital government with regard to certain services. Turning in a permit form in person does little to improve the relationship between governments and citizens, but technology-enabled one-on-one interactions — such as video calls or online help chats — could actually go a long way toward building trust and respect.

Here’s the bottom line: Digital transformation is worth the investment if your goal is to improve both the citizen and employee experience.

How can Jotform help with the shift to a digital government?

Whether your government department or agency is just starting its digital journey or already has some new technologies in place, Jotform is an excellent solution to add to your toolkit.

Jotform is an online form solution for collecting, managing, and organizing data, whether it’s a voter registration form, a permit application, a citizen survey, or anything else. Jotform can handle it all. It’s an easy-to-use solution that can adapt to any government tech stack, providing state-of-the-art security so all citizen and employee data remains in the right hands. Jotform also integrates with many other digital platforms, so you can simplify your processes from beginning to end.

Start creating a more efficient, secure, inclusive, and transparent government today with Jotform.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

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