State and Local Governments Building Trust with Transparency

Citizens typically report more trust in state and local governments than in the federal government, but that does not mean that there is no work to be done on improving citizen experience and trust. A recent study found that about 45% of Americans have a less-than-favorable view of the trustworthiness of local governments. This number has become worse since 2017, when only 40% expressed a less than favorable outlook.

Key to building trust is transparency--showing the work being done, the reasons decisions were made, as well as the process for obtaining services from government. With more and more government services moving online, it would seem that this transparency would be easier than ever to provide, but in fact, the digitization of government can often have the opposite effect.

Highlight the People in the Neighborhood

With self-service options removing interaction with a government employee, the service being provided can feel a little faceless. Additionally, many government sites have stopped listing employee names and work email and phone numbers to protect privacy and bolster cybersecurity. Replacing contact information for people with a form or generic group email can make citizens suspicious as to where their inquiry actually goes and who is responsible. Apache Junction, AZ, reported that the fact their website includes contact information for every council member, allowing people to reach directly to members, is a huge factor in positive trust numbers.

Ensure Humans Inform the Machines

Human-centered design focuses on understanding end users' needs, behaviors, and experiences and then designing processes to respond to those realities. Many of the services offered at the state and local level are for vulnerable populations in stressful situations--birth of a child, loss of a job, caring for elderly parents. The stress of the situation, combined with the complexity of applying for aid, causes many people to abandon the process. For example, the child tax credits that have been introduced in many states to fill the gaps after the end of federal pandemic assistance feature a confusing application and arduous verification process and will prevent many families from getting aid for which they qualify.

The New Jersey Department of Labor worked to improve access to paid family leave, which was a complex system requiring two different applications. After interviewing users to find out where people were getting stuck, confused, or giving up, the state labor department was able to streamline and simplify both the process and the language used to ensure everyone who was eligible could get the benefit.

Getting AI Right

Implementing artificial intelligence (AI) can greatly improve efficiency and deliver new insights, but only when done thoughtfully. States are utilizing federal guidance and tailoring it to meet the realities of state and local government to ensure AI solutions are developed and deployed to ensure equity and accuracy.

The State of Indiana has developed a new AI policy that requires all AI projects to pass a maturity assessment before they are implemented. This allows agencies to freely experiment with AI while ensuring those solutions mitigate data privacy, intellectual property, ethical, and cybersecurity risks. In the spirit of transparency, the state also requires a "just-in-time" notice be sent to users interacting with AI systems, informing them how AI is using their data.

For more information on state and local IT modernization efforts, check out these resources:

  • Inaugural Billington State and Local Cybersecurity Summit (March 19-20, 2024; Washington, DC) - State and local governments and the critical infrastructure they support are facing significant cyber-attacks. Explore what can be done to enhance the cybersecurity of the states, counties, cities, and municipalities that comprise the U.S. and the critical infrastructure sectors in these areas.
  • Managing Your State's Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) Program (March 20, 2024; webcast) - Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) is emerging as a pivotal state government initiative. Explore the landscape surrounding PFML and how states can use technology to manage claims and ensure efficient delivery of these vital benefits.
  • Health IT Workshop (April 9. 2024; Washington, DC) - In the wake of a once-in-a-generation pandemic, the nation's public health system has never been so important and under such considerable spotlight. This workshop will bring together perspectives from across the public sector on how emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, virtual reality training, and 3D printing, are reshaping the Health IT landscape across the nation.
  • Changing the Perception: Using Digital Transformation to Increase Trust in Government Agencies (white paper) - This paper explores the critical factors influencing customer trust and provides recommendations and examples for leaders implementing customer experience and digital transformation initiatives.
  • Outsourced and Automated: How AI companies Have Taken Over Government Decision-Making (white paper) - Across the country, state and local governments are experimenting with artificial intelligence tools that outsource important government decisions to private companies, all without public input or oversight.
  • Three Key Technology Advancements Enabling Law Enforcement Modernization (white paper) - Much like every other aspect of our lives, law enforcement is now a digitally driven activity. This wealth of digital data is both an asset and a challenge for law enforcement. This presents challenges for understaffed teams that often rely on manual processes to review these valuable assets.

To explore more insights for state and local agencies you can research additional events and resources on GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

Comments are closed temporarily due to excessive Spam.