Unveiling the Digital Service Network’s State-level Digital Transformation Policy Scan

Policy shapes the conditions of possibility for how government does its work. Across U.S. states and territories, policy is evolving to shape the digital transformation of government operations and service delivery. 

Today, the Beeck Center’s  Digital Service Network (DSN) launched a new research agenda to support deeper understanding of three policy tools that influence digital transformation at the state and territorial level — executive orders (EOs), legislation, and administrative rules and guidance.

Our immediate goal? To create accessible resources that document where and how these policies are being enacted to support the work of government practitioners and researchers.

Looking ahead, we aim to understand how governors, policymakers, and public servants define what “good” looks like for government digital transformation and how these policy tools help them achieve success. Our future research will delve into the different policy origins of state-level digital transformation, seeking insights into how policy design influences digital delivery outcomes.

This initiative guides the DSN’s ability to offer robust, evidence-based guidance to promote effective and equitable digital transformation policy at the state level. 

Research questions

Currently, the DSN’s driving question for this research is: Which types of policy tactics — i.e., EOs, legislation, and administrative rules and guidance — are being used to govern the digital transformation of operations and service delivery across U.S. state and territorial governments?

Answering this first question will enable us to ask deeper questions in future phases of this work, for example:

  • In what ways do the identified uses of these policy tactics at the state level define what “good” looks like for the digital transformation of government operations and service delivery?
  • How do the people behind the use of tactics — namely governors, policymakers, and public servants — see their chosen tactics as tools to help make these definitions of good a reality? 
  • How might we define and evaluate the comparative affordances and limitations of various policy tactics to better understand the links between policy design and digital delivery outcomes?

Explore the Policy Scan

In Fall 2023, the DSN kicked off its digital transformation policy scan by documenting EOs enacted across states and territories that govern the digital transformation of government operations and service delivery.

The resources from our EO scan are hosted on the DSN’s website and include:

  • a dataset with 134 identified EOs related to government digital transformation where users can filter these EOs by state/territory, year enacted, and/or by topic tag; read short summaries of EOs; and download full-text PDFs of EOs
  • a dashboard where users can explore these data geographically
  • a high-level synthesis of trends and themes

The DSN will continuously update and refine these resources as additional EOs come to our attention, as new EOs are enacted, and as the interests and needs of the network shift.

What’s Next for the DSN’s Policy Scan?

The limitations of EOs as a policy tool mean that there are a number of things that they alone cannot reveal about the policy foundation supporting a state’s approach to digital transformation. For example, we know that a state like Colorado has a digital service team that leads and supports extensive digital transformation efforts across agencies, but there is not an executive-level policy basis for this team in the same way that there is, for example, in Pennsylvania or Vermont.

These limitations motivate the DSN’s interest in also scanning state-level legislation and administrative rules and guidance. Documenting uses of these two additional policy tools alongside EOs will help develop awareness and understanding of how various policy tools shape states’ approaches to digital transformation, and will enable future comparative analysis of different policy tools.

Please stay tuned as we release more data, visualization tools, and analysis for the forthcoming legislative and administrative policy scans. Join the DSN to ensure you receive the latest updates on all of our work, including the policy scan.

In the meantime, we look forward to seeing how you engage with our Executive Order resources: 

  • Is there an EO you think is missing? 
  • Do you have a use case for these data that you want to share with us? 
  • Are you interested in guidance or support on pursuing executive action in your own state to equitably and effectively shape digital transformation? 
  • Anything else you’d like to share or connect on? 

Reach out at hi@digitalservicenetwork.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

Explore the Dashboard