According to research by ICF Wakefield, 91% of federal government agencies successfully advanced their digital transformation efforts in 2022. This year, we’re seeing this trend gaining significant momentum at the local government level, with many local government institutions prioritizing digital transformation as mission-critical for improving service delivery, efficiency, community engagement, and cost savings.
By laying the groundwork for more financially and administratively efficient workflows and processes, local government digital transformation delivers a host of important benefits. For example, the U.S Bureau of Fiscal Service Office estimates that digital transformation could unlock an estimated $3 Billion in annual government-wide cost-savings.
Digital public services are estimated to be 74% faster up to 95% cheaper to deliver, not only drastically increasing the speed and ease at which citizens can access the critical services they need, but also widening the scope of services that can realistically be delivered within budgetary constraints.
Most importantly, local government digital transformation improves local governments’ ability to connect with and remain accessible to citizens by meeting them where they are – online. According to research by Accenture, 70% of American adults feel connected to their government via digital channels.
So what is local government digital transformation, and how do local government organizations chart a successful path toward it, leveraging technology to improve citizen services, operational efficiency, and community engagement?
Digital transformation in local governments refers to the use of technology to optimize government operations, making service delivery more effective, efficient, accessible, and convenient for citizens. By replacing inefficient paper-based manual processes with streamlined digital equivalents and expanding opportunities for citizens to interface with the government through digital channels, such as online portals, local governments can improve customer satisfaction, save costs, increase service speed, improve data security, and much more.
Examples of local government digital transformation initiatives include:
Digitization and indexing of paper records for instant search and retrieval
Online applications and record requests
Online service portals
Digital ID authentication
Improved data management
Online tax submission
Digital transformation in local governments is better for citizens, better for employees, and better for business overall. Here’s why.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the public spent an astonishing 10.5 billion hours on government paperwork in 2022. The same report estimated that outdated manual government processes cost American citizens a combined $117 billion, in both taxes wasted on related inefficiencies, and time, fuel and resources spent to engage with the government to access required services.
Through online portals, digital ID authentication and signature capabilities, online information request channels and other digital services, local government digital transformation saves citizens time and money, making the best use of contributed tax Dollars.
Through digital transformation, local government employees can carry out their important functions faster, more accurately, and at a significantly lower cost than before. Through digital data management and automation, employees no longer have to spend hours a week on manual data entry or record request tasks, freeing them up to focus on more meaningful tasks.
Local government digital transformation enables automated processes which keep citizens up to date with the progress of their service requests, every step of the way. Digital channels make it much easier for local governments to clearly and consistently communicate with citizens, drawing their attention to new programs and initiatives as they launch, and disseminating other information that may have a significant positive impact on their lives.
Digitalizing records and content in a local government organization also enhances compliance, ensuring that the institution is audit-ready at any time while increasing privacy and data security through permissions-based access and comprehensive digital audit trails.
The needs of modern citizens are becoming more complex. As populations increase, local governments need to ensure that they’re future-proofed against this increasing complexity and demand volume by having a robust digital operational architecture in place.
Digital transformation also ensures business continuity, even in the face of natural disasters. With remotely accessible online digital systems and databases, local governments can continue to serve the public, even if employees are unable to come to work.
In 2022, a US Chamber of Commerce report estimated that outdated paper-based processes are costing government institutions $38.7 billion per year.
Digitizing paper records and files alone can save a single department hundreds of thousands of Dollars in file storage space and file management labor. Increased digitization means local governments can do a lot more with a lot less, employing fewer staff members to carry out required tasks.
85% of American adults own a smartphone, with 27% of adults in low-income households being smartphone-only internet users. To increase the public’s access to critical services and information, local governments must shift to digital channels, particularly if they hope to meet the needs of underserved populations. Online portals work – there were 4.78 Billion visits to government websites in the 90 days between June and August last year.
According to a recent study, ransomware attacks on local governments have increased from 58% to 69% year on year, and 76% of these ransomware attacks result in data being irrevocably encrypted. Most concerningly, 48% of those attacks resulted in data being stolen as well as encrypted – a far higher incident rate than the global average.
Citizens trust local governments to keep their private information secure, and the implementation of digital security measures which can ensure this is a key aspect of any local government's digital transformation strategy.
By digitalizing paper records and files, local governments can make data more accessible for employees and citizens alike. Once paper files are scanned and indexed into a searchable database, the information they contain can be recalled in seconds, saving employees hours of previously manual retrieval time, and saving citizens from having to wait weeks, if not months, for their requested information.
Digital transformation in local governments is a three-phase process.
Digitization refers to the transition from analog to digital, and it involves the elimination of paper-based processes from the organization’s workflow. Converting all paper records and files into digital files through scanning and imaging, then indexing them into searchable databases, is a crucial step in this process as it lays the foundation for more advanced digitalization initiatives.
Digitalization involves using digital data and technologies to streamline and optimize work processes within an organization. For example, once a local government transitions to digital records, these records can be automatically requested and accessed through public-facing portals, without human intervention. Through digitalization, local governments can digitize information, automate tasks, and integrate digital tools and systems into their operations to improve efficiency, accuracy, and productivity.
Digital transformation is the final end-game of both digitization and digitalization, and it refers to the deployment of a full spectrum of technologies to totally transform the way that business gets done within an organization. Processes, strategies, and the customer experience are revolutionized through advanced digital capabilities. Increased digital connectivity drives growth, innovation, and resilience, and the organization has a scalable infrastructure in place to adapt to changing constituent needs. Data drives decision-making and increased agility gives local governments the ability to seamlessly manage any local or global disruptions for uninterrupted services.
For over 25 years, Image API has been helping local government agencies reach the speed and efficiency of digital through a range of industry-leading digital transformation services. Here are some success stories.
Nassau County had a major paper problem. The file room used to store the ever-increasing number of probation records already took up an entire floor of the County’s office building.
Manually managing and processing thousands of paper records was resource-intensive, time-consuming, and prone to errors. Important paper files were often lost or misplaced and remained vulnerable to damage and degradation.
Working closely with the County, Image API was able to securely digitize all probation records, freeing up an entire floor of expensive office space which could then be utilized for more high-value purposes.
To handle the daily influx of new records and to manage the existing content, Image API implemented Axiom Capture™ for day-forward scanning, and Axiom Pro® for digital record management, bringing the County up to date with a fully paperless system that increased efficiency, customer service, and security for sensitive records.
The initiative was so successful that Nassau County elected to make the Image API solution the County’s enterprise-wide standard, deploying it to manage Assessment, Assessment Review Commission, Medical Examiner, Taxi and Limo Commission, Traffic and Parking Violations, Department of Public Works, Probation, IT Vouchers, IT Contracts, Purchasing, Civil Service, Treasury, and the Veterans Service Agency.
Sarasota Country Schools serves approximately 43,000 students. As a rapidly growing district, the paper-based student record system was becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Space for file storage was running out, and with no other choice, the district had to start storing files outside of protected and designated areas, leaving them vulnerable to hurricane damage and loss.
Image API applied a phased approach to digitize all Sarasota County Schools student records across all 53 schools in the district, deploying our industry-leading content management system, Axiom Pro, to streamline access and record retrieval across multiple departments in the district.
Not only are the files safely digitized and protected against natural disaster and loss, but district employees are able to access any file, from anywhere, instantly, saving hundreds of hours of manual processing per month.
Escambia County’s Human Resources Department supports a workforce of over 1,600 employees across 17 different departments, providing a range of HR services, including recruitment, employee relations, and benefits administration.
A lack of file storage space and time-consuming paper file management processes presented a significant challenge to the department.
With two file rooms containing over 3500 active and terminated employee files, fulfilling public records requests was time-consuming and resource-intensive. For each request, employees had to manually scan, email, assemble PDFs, save to drive, and then add the request to the records request system – a process that could take up to an hour and a half per request.
To add to the burden, if a file was located in another department, an all-hands email would have to be sent to locate it, creating a significant delay in fulfilling the request at hand.
While the department had started a digitization process, the existing system did not have mass upload functionality, meaning that records had to be uploaded one by one through a tedious manual process. These digitized records were not indexed into a searchable database, so they could not be retrieved through a search function.
The department urgently needed a more efficient solution, so they reached out to Image API for help.
By digitizing all remaining files and implementing Axiom Pro for digital file management, Image API was able to index all employee records into a searchable database. Now, the HR team was able to search for a specific word within a document, allowing them to retrieve the correct file within seconds, without having to scroll through hundreds of pages in a specific folder to locate the correct page.
Axiom Pro also allowed the team to retrieve records by searching for an employee’s unique employee number, eliminating potential discrepancies caused by name changes. Axiom Pro’s batch upload feature allowed the upload of full employee files containing multiple sub-sections, greatly increasing efficiency.
The result was a drastic improvement in record request fulfillment efficiency. Where a single record request was taking up to an hour and a half to complete, the HR team could locate the required file within 30 seconds, and complete the request in under 30 minutes.
This freed up hundreds of hours a month which could be spent on more high-value tasks and other important initiatives.
For almost three decades, Image API has been helping local governments achieve unprecedented efficiency through a full-service digitalization and digital content management solution. Our digitization solution includes:
Flexible, scalable, 100% secure high-volume imaging services to digitize any document format, at scale.
Image API’s Axiom Pro platform is a cloud-based document management system that allows you to store, secure, search, and manage digital documents with unprecedented efficiency.
Visit www.imageapi.com for more information.
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