Whether registering a birth or death or founding a business, people don’t care how many agencies are involved. They do care, however, how many forms they need to fill out and how many times they need to provide the same information to multiple government agencies. They just want the birth registered, the death recorded, or their new business launched.
Life event–based service delivery is an important trend in government CX that places the citizen at the center, bringing together the delivery of multiple services related to a single life event. Service delivery sometimes begins without the need for the citizen to be involved.
But to implement life event–based services, government agencies need to overcome six major barriers: a lack of coordination among agencies and misaligned incentives; inadequate coordination across levels of government; siloed technology and data systems; siloed funding; privacy and data security concerns; and citizens’ lack of trust.
A marriage, for instance, can involve not just a marriage license but a change of address, a new legal name, and changing eligibility for government benefits such as health insurance subsidies. The number of required transactions can be daunting—and the need to provide the same information again and again can be frustrating.
Such an experience is twice as cruel if the life event is painful, such as a disabling injury, a job loss, a natural disaster, or death. UK citizens coping with the death of a loved one used to have to notify multiple departments up to 44 times about the death. Not anymore. In a single interaction, the UK’s Tell Us Once process triggers notifications to all the relevant government agencies.15
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s SmartStart, an interagency program for birth and infant care, demonstrates how focusing on user-centricity can improve CX. User insights were gathered using a multidisciplinary team that engaged with stakeholders throughout the project’s life cycle through surveys, interviews, and workshops.16 Lessons learned included the need to begin with user testing to uncover pain points, to prioritize features that customers want, creating a minimum viable product (MVP) to test and use the MVP even before the road map is final, and to be agile and iterate quickly.17
During the height of the pandemic in Portugal, every time someone was reported as having COVID-19, the country’s health ministry would contact its social security ministry to issue a “temporary leave permit” to authorize the individual’s absence from work.18 Companies would just submit those names to get a refund on payroll taxes.
In the United States, the state of Connecticut’s “one-stop shop” portal organizes information and services for events related to owning and running a business, such as starting a new business, managing a business, paying taxes, or relocating or expanding a business. For example, the portal generates a customized checklist to guide business owners through the process of setting up a new business entity.19
In Australia, the government of New South Wales announced a AUS$1.6 billion investment in its Digital Restart Fund in June 2020—plus an additional AUS$500 million a year later20—to accelerate a “whole of government” digital transformation: funding digital assets used by multiple agencies, modernizing legacy systems, and building workforce capability by upskilling NSW government employees.21
Funding mechanisms for shared responsibilities have to provide appropriate incentives, yet maintain flexibility because to overworked government managers, a whole of government approach can feel like an added responsibility. As one government executive put it, “We’re going to be measured on our own performance, and not on cross-agency performance.”22