Digital Strategy Challenges Government


Despite a spate of digital directives, open data and open government pressures, and the maturity of a number of digital tools, government still lags when it comes to digital strategy, according to new research from Accenture. Data shows that agency officials remain concerned over budget constraints and costs of implementation.

The survey was conducted by Accenture and the Government Business Council, and was designed to assess the perceptions and experiences of digital collaboration within government. Respondents include nearly 400 senior-level executives across more than 30 agencies.

Survey respondents said that digital services improve collaboration within and across agencies. The most common tools deployed for this work include websites, online knowledge bases/FAQs, telephone self-service and social media. Agencies are also using digital tools aimed at employees, like live collaboration tools and instant messaging. 49% of respondents saw improved efficiency, but also surprisingly of the remaining 51% more than a quarter say they do not yet observe any positive outcomes.

Only 33% of respondents said they had realized cost savings by implementing digital tools. The majority of respondents – 63% cited limited budgets as the biggest barrier to adoption and 50% said that agencies are not allocating an appropriate level of funding to support digital tools and services.

Agencies received mixed reviews on their use of digital tools to support internal or interagency collaboration, with about 40% rating collaboration as satisfactory or good. In addition to budget concerns, 42% cited both cultural resistance and technical skills as barriers to adoption. In fact 81% of those surveyed respondents cited a lack of relevant skills among current staff as a challenge.

Skills cited as lacking include – creative design, user experience, project management, digital strategy development, and data science. More than half of respondents said their agency’s leadership has not articulated a clear strategy to incorporate digital tools and services to accomplish the mission.

Many of these concerns are replicated at the state and local level. As CivSource reported earlier this year, in a survey focused on state and local governments done by Acquia and the Center for Digital Government, respondents there cited budget constraints, legacy systems, and an overall uncertainty about enterprise vision as the core inhibitors to moving digital strategy forward. Data security also ranked near the top of the list in terms of priorities for any digital effort.

35% of state and local respondents cited “becoming more information centric” as the main area of improvement for digital, with security, becoming customer centric, and building shared platforms following closely behind. The overall grade from state and local respondents for digital was a “B-” with “becoming customer centric” cited as the area most in need of improvement.