The digital world has so far defined the 21st century with the obvious advent of mobile phones and their limitless influence on peoples’ day-to-day lives.
Private firms like Google, Amazon and Apple have been able to take full advantage of technology like this, not only in the making of physical products, but also in the advent of technology that make reality more convenient and efficient. Services like Amazon Prime, Apple Wallet and Youtube make accessing information and performing menial tasks much easier for consumers. It has gotten to the point where these giant tech companies have taken some of the roles that the government used to fill. In fact, the lack of ability government — as an institution at every level — has displayed represents a huge missed opportunity for a lot of good to take place.
Imagine a world where taxes, parking tickets and public meetings are as easy to access as Facebook. The technological capability to have the same conveniences and innovations that exist within the private sphere are completely attainable, given the accessibility of technology. Using such applications would make the processes of public governess far easier, and make for a far more informed public.
The problem with this dream world is not only the lack of public funding for these sorts of projects. There have been a variety of mishaps in the realm of government attempting to use technology in order to streamline processes — the most notable of which being the problems that healthcare.gov had at its launch. This is the epitome of a recurring problem of difficulties in government agencies staying caught up with even 21st century levels of modernization in workplace technology.
Technology in the government is furthermore limited by the role it plays in the economy. Federal procurement of technology-related contractors is tricky, given the inherent inefficiency of government.
Government agencies need to ensure that technology they put into place doesn’t compromise the privacy of private citizens; the things that government uses online resources for are generally more sensitive than, say, my online shopping preferences. Additionally, the public sector is not attracting enough of the young and talented computer science graduates in order to be competitive with the likes of the tech giants that dominate the recruiting of these programmers to be.
The government needs to step up as far as investing in the ever-expanding field of technology, otherwise it may fall dangerously behind. This would require increased funding for domestic technology initiatives that could improve citizens’ experiences with local, state, and federal government. Expanding the role of technology in government agencies would also create more jobs in this field.
Though there is an incredible demand for higher-skilled programmers in the market (with said demand being much higher than the supply), government agencies could implement job training programs similar to the ones being used by Amazon to retrain their workforce. This could help prevent some of the fear over the hit the labor market may take with the advent of automation, and help create a better and more efficient governing body from top to bottom.