New Digital Service Teams
Summary + Problem Statement
Across the United States and around the world, a number of governments are embarking on digital transformation efforts by launching innovation and digital service teams and incorporating roles such as user researchers, human-centered designers, software developers, and data scientists within their teams. As these new efforts take shape, government teams are pioneering new approaches and learning from their experiences and we have much to learn from those implementing innovative methods.
While the government digital service teams are focused on building their services and methodologies, there is an opportunity to document their work in order to learn from these experiences, to share it more widely, and eventually scale approaches that work.
The Beeck Center’s Digital Service Collaborative, in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, is pairing local researchers with government teams in state and local governments in the U.S. to capture work as it happens, document learnings, and work with the teams to determine the best ways to disseminate this information to benefit both the people in these state and local communities and collaborators in other governments. These researchers will work closely with government teams to learn about their goals, priorities, activities, and decision-making, and to document their work.
Current project participants include the newly created Colorado Digital Service and the State of New Jersey’s Office of Innovation.
The research outputs and documentation through this project will focus on ways to support the learning and strategic design of similar initiatives in other governments. As a result, the analysis will emphasize identifying the challenges, opportunities, and processes that are likely to resonate in other contexts and identify contextual factors that are most important to address in modernizing and digitizing state government services, for example:
- Specific strategies being followed by the government team in the digitization effort, including how teams engage the private sector on government projects (and the ways they manifest in different stages of digitization and for different stakeholders).
- Actual and perceived barriers and challenges faced by public servants, policymakers, external partners, and recipients. These include technical, political, and legal barriers.
- Technical processes through which digitization is implemented, including technical documentation of software development, procurement, and user design.
- The most important successes and failures encountered in the process, and an analysis of what led to those outcomes.
- Most immediate opportunities for successful replication and scaling of activities.
- Key indicators used to measure success internally, and an analysis of their utility, limits, and relevance in other contexts.