Thomas Romeo, President, MAXIMUS Federal Services says government at all levels is scrambling to manage a new reality – learning how to govern across multiple touch points. While that may not sound new on the surface, what Romeo means is governing now means creating a consistent experience across multiple screens. Citizen engagement now occurs online as much as it does offline. Not only that, but as eligibility for services like earned benefits or Obamacare expand, new demographics of individuals will be interacting with government for the first time, and those people may expect to find government online instead of at an office.
The government itself is also shifting internally in terms of how it handles business processing and the advent of multi-screen life. Internal groups like 18F which are working to expand agile development principals throughout government, have been able to push through technological improvements that aid service delivery and bolster job performance.
“After building legacy systems that weren’t integrated, going back and attempting to rebuild consumer facing processes that are integrated is a significant challenge for government as is managing that experience,” Romeo tells CivSource. “We’re starting to see a broader government-wide focus on how to engage with citizens, areas like 18F or Social Security’s Road to 2025 initiative are evidence of that.”
On the vendor side, MAXIMUS too is altering its offering to government in order to be more responsive to changes in how government services are viewed. The company has moved to “outcomes-based contracting,” which as the name would suggest relies on MAXIMUS fulfilling clear goals before getting paid. More than simply implementing a new call center or other task order, under this type of contracting MAXIMUS may need to actually find individuals jobs before getting paid, or sign a certain number of qualified people up for services.
Romeo explains that this type of contracting is gaining traction with public sector officials as it becomes more difficult to find the political will for large scale public programs. “You have to look at the demographics of who is coming in for government services, and what the outcomes are supposed to be. Focusing on tools and systems and only looking at what tools are going to solve the problem isn’t solving the whole picture. Both government and contractors are beginning to understand that the whole picture has to be consistent and understandable by people coming to government and people within government.”
“I think people are going to be surprised to see how much of an increased focus there will be on citizen engagement in government in the coming years. Specifically, with a focus on outcomes in contracting so holistic ideas are driving conversations about procurement,” he says. “People are going to be experimenting with a lot of different models.”