3 Questions to Ask Before Government Modernization Projects

NIC Chief Operating Officer Robert Knapp advises on how to focus government modernization projects so they reach the goals of your smart city journey.


After making the decision to lead your government down the path to becoming a more digital, citizen-centric government, determining where to begin implementing new innovative technologies can seem like a daunting task.

Cities are expected to invest $80 billion in smart technologies in 2018, and $135 billion by 2021. With technology solutions ranging from blockchain to artificial intelligence-enabled chatbots and everything in between, it can be difficult to discern which solutions are best for your government and your constituents. If you are new to the space, today’s huge and fast-growing market can feel particularly overwhelming.

To launch a modernized government initiative, a methodical and question-driven process will lead you towards an increased efficiency that will help your government reach its goals. Starting with the three questions below will ensure your government has a successful government modernization journey.

#1 What goal will your new technology work to accomplish?

There are many things that technology can accomplish in federal, state and local governments, but the key to implementing technology that has a lasting and positive impact comes from a laser focus on what your government needs which ultimately should be based upon what your users (i.e. residents and businesses) need. Meeting these needs will ensure the digital solutions you decide on are tied to a clear purpose and realistic goals.

Start by selecting a main goal you want this new technology to accomplish. Are you looking to improve citizen satisfaction by reducing call wait times? Are you trying to streamline a permitting process for your users and thereby free up hours for an agency department? Take the time at the outset to identify your goal and keep this goal in mind throughout your technology deployment.

#2 Where do you plan on implementing your new technology?

Once you’ve decided on an overarching goal for your new technology, it’s time to hone in on where and how it will be implemented. This step is important to ensuring your goal is attainable and produces the results you are expecting. By limiting your scope to one agency or department for your technology, your government can more rapidly test this new technology, understand its impact and expand its reach from there.

For example, a goal for many government executives is to create a more mobile-friendly citizen experience for your constituents’ interactions with the government. After reviewing agencies and departments that interact with citizens your government could decide the right place for the mobile-friendly service is the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, specifically offering digital services that allow citizens to pay parking tickets and renew their licenses “on the go”.

By focusing on one specific agency, you ensure that the scope of your project isn’t too broad, but will make a large enough impact that citizens will appreciate the new convenience, and anticipate more digital government efficiencies in the future. Once the technology has been tested in one agency or situation, you can consider rolling it out in other areas that have the same need.

#3 How are you going to implement your new technology?

The final question you should ask yourself involves considering the industry partner you have chosen for your modernization efforts. For most state and local governments, technology teams are stretched thin with multiple, competing important deadlines. That, coupled with a tight budget, can make your technology goals seem out of reach. Focus on finding a partner for your project that has a track record of implementing digital services similar to what you want to implement, has a passion for improving the digital experience and can work with you to fund a digital transformation that will not strain your budget.

At NIC, we pride ourselves on agile collaboration with the governments we have worked with over the past 25 years to make solutions that fit the needs of government agencies, citizens and businesses. Over this time, we have learned that starting your journey into smart technology doesn’t need to be overwhelming, difficult or expensive if you ask the right questions at the outset on your way to a more innovative and efficient future.

Robert Knapp

Robert Knapp is the Chief Operating Officer of NIC Inc. (Nasdaq: EGOV), the nation’s leading provider of innovative digital government solutions and secure payment processing, which help make government interactions more accessible for everyone through technology. The family of NIC companies has developed a library of more than 13,000 digital government services for more than 6,000 federal, state, and local government agencies. Among these solutions is the ground-breaking personal assistant for government, Gov2Go, delivering citizens personalized reminders and a single access point for government interactions.