GovTech Reimagined in the COVID-19 Era

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A Q&A with Jeff Puckett, Chief Strategy Officer, Tyler Technologies, Inc.

We tend to think of innovation in technology as a private sector phenomenon. Companies that can move fast do, keeping pace with—if not driving—modern advancements. But innovation is not only born in the private sector. It has been an increasing priority and focus of government for over a decade.

In this Q&A with Jeff Puckett, Chief Strategy Officer of Tyler Technologies, we explore the acceleration of innovation in the public sector, what governments need to remain successful, and what the future may hold.

How were governments innovating prior to COVID-19?

Throughout 2019, cities asked, “Do manual systems that don’t automate tasks meet today’s needs? Are we keeping useful data away from potential partners? What valuable insights are going unnoticed?” These questions can only be answered through modern technology that enables innovation. Cities began to explore new, integrated technology foundations to break down siloes for greater efficiency and solution-bearing connections. Old paradigms were shifting, though in a slower, conservative approach.

How did COVID-19 accelerate these changes?

Stay-at-home orders and social distancing changed government operations and constituent engagement overnight. The new urgency laid bare the unfortunate shortcomings of outdated tech stacks. The limitations of legacy systems became obvious to public servants, highlighting critical capability gaps as well as cybersecurity weaknesses.

What is the way forward for cities?

I believe the way forward is two-fold. First, examining new ways to use existing systems will help provide uninterrupted service to residents while maintaining business operations. Cities are pioneers in creatively leveraging mission-critical technology systems to continue services and respond to emerging needs that have been apparent in many ways.

In Buffalo, New York, leaders created a centralized hub for employees and the public to access key COVID-19 information. Richmond, Virginia, added more than 700 users to its citizen self-service portal in just two weeks for online permitting applications and payments. The City of Los Angeles used its data to fuel a “food access” map in response to increased need.

Second, establishing modern government technology stacks will enable near-term crisis navigation. Strong digital foundations are also essential for continued sustainability and scaling new programs into the future.

What is a GovTech Stack?

A modern GovTech Stack is simply a strategy or roadmap for government leaders as they rethink their technical infrastructure. Rather than grappling with an unwieldy monolith of a system, adopting a GovTech Stack approach allows leaders to strategize through discreet components over time so that the enterprise becomes more comprehensive and integrated with each step.

GovStack

A modern GovTech Stack – regardless of product types involved – requires that governments think beyond the department level to determine how any system serves business partners, serves the public, and provides internal and external decision-makers with actionable insight. A complete GovTech Stack accounts for this expanded definition of “stakeholder” and contains:

  • Integrated administrative and business management systems
  • Two-way citizen engagement tools
  • Modern data storage and integration
  • Data analytics for actionable insight

Encircling these four key elements are robust cybersecurity and privacy controls along with enterprise-wide cloud architecture.

The recommendation here is that city leaders have a strategy and timeline for building out each of these dimensions over time.

Why is the cloud important?

Cloud technology provides remote access to data and systems when buildings are closed. The cloud mitigates security risk with built-in disaster recovery, security compliance, and remote updates. It also improves the agility of the government to respond quickly to crises and rapidly evolving situations.

Where is this innovation headed in the future?

Strategies that make operations smarter and more sustainable are critical to weather this crisis and be ready for what comes next. Mobility, online engagement, and remote citizen interaction are important. Internally, integrated workflows hold the key to effectively manage greater demand with fewer resources. The importance of remote work, secure networks, and improved communication and access will drive ongoing innovation.

While we can’t predict what the future will hold, no one can deny that we can no longer afford to navigate across multiple silos to get timely, accurate information. Cities that implement strong GovTech Stacks bolstered by a common cloud infrastructure will benefit from successful integration and data strategies.

The public sector will emerge from this crisis not only with a new technology trajectory, but with a renewed appreciation for partnership and connectivity, and new hope for what we can achieve for communities across the country together.

Read more from Jeff Puckett on the trajectory of change and the future of government technology for successful cities.

 

About the Author:

JeffPuckettJeff Puckett is the Chief Strategy Officer at Tyler Technologies. Jeff joined Tyler in 1991 and has had roles in implementation, client support, and project management. He has held leadership positions across every aspect of Tyler’s courts and justice operations. Jeff led the initial development of the Odyssey courts solution as vice president of software development, led its national rollout as vice president of sales, and then served as president of the Courts & Justice Division. In 2017, he was named senior vice president of strategic initiatives, where he led the integration of Tyler’s Data & Insights Division into the company. Jeff was named Tyler’s chief strategy officer in January 2020. Prior to joining Tyler, Jeff was a Tyler client, serving as a deputy sheriff for Denton County, Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in management information systems from the University of North Texas.