In the fast-paced world of cloud computing, technology is revolutionizing how local and federal governments are communicating with their citizens and vice versa. But are these rapid developments in digital communication working to better connect the public with the governments that serve them? It depends on who you ask.

To understand how Americans engage with agencies at both the local and federal level, Salesforce conducted an online poll, published in the 2017 Connected Citizen Report.  Among 2,057 U.S. adults (ages 18 and older), the results focused on three predominant themes:

  1. How Americans are currently engaging with local and federal government agencies
  2. Where they are looking to engage
  3. How they want government to prioritize investments

At the city level, the report found many Americans were unaware that their local governments provided citizen-first services via modern digital channels like smartphone apps, email, website, social network, or other communication channels. Citizen-first services included items such as paying taxes, applying and submitting permits, or general transportation information.

For example, 38 percent of respondents said they could pay property taxes using a digital medium, while one-in-five said they could apply for a construction or business permit. When it comes to civic engagement, only 19 percent reported that they could participate in town halls remotely. With regards to transportation, considerably more Americans (49 percent) affirmed they could access general services.

While some Americans may not know their city offers general services digitally, the majority (55 percent) are open to taxpayer dollars going toward the research of forward-thinking technologies — if it is for services they find helpful.  When pressed about using taxpayer dollars to finance digital services, generational gaps emerged. Most notably gaps existed among millennials and Gen-Xers compared to baby boomers. Nearly twice as many millennials (41 percent) reported that they would be willing to give the government access to their personal data to increase the quality of the services it provide (such as their location or social media posts) when compared to baby boomers (22 percent).

At the federal level, most Americans (68 percent) stated that they generally have better experiences with private sector enterprises than government agencies. In regards to the private sector, respondents cited its ability to resolve customer service issues more quickly (62 percent), care more about them as customers (52 percent), provide easier communication methods such as text or social media (45%), and have more engaged employees (44%).

However, many Americans reported a generally positive experience communicating with the federal agencies cited in the survey, which included Veteran’s Affairs (72 percent), IRS (60 percent), and Health and Human Services (58 percent). When asked what could be done to improve their experience in the future, transparency regarding how their issue was being handled or processed topped the list. Though varying by agency, tracking the status of an issue, better online portals, as well as more knowledgeable and engaged employees ranked high among respondents.

As agencies continue to shift to cloud computing , it’s more important than ever that CIOs understand how to successfully communicate digitally with the public. By deploying cloud-based systems to more quickly deliver higher quality service, the shifting expectations of the American people will need to be continually met in this modern era.

The full report can be found here.

About the Author

Alex Tzavellas serves as Practice Marketing Manager where he supports MIL’s cloud solutions marketing and sales efforts. He specializes in developing and executing strategies for federal and non-profit clients.