NASCIO CIO’s Priorities: Tackling the Resident Experience and Legacy App Modernization

User-friendly design and back-end upgrades: Here’s a look at what CIOs are prioritizing.

Residents are accessing government services online more and more, but they’re not always fulfilling experiences — and government agencies realize that. In fact, in NASCIO’s recently released State CIO Top Ten Policy and Technology Priorities for 2023, digital services remain a focus for chief information officers (CIOs) this year. 

We’re going to narrow that down even further: Let’s hone in on improving residents’ digital experience and upgrading a legacy application. 

Improving the digital experience for your residents.

Accelerated resident demand for simple, effective digital services has pushed government agencies to a pivotal moment: Can your agency (and technology) keep up with resident expectations? Here are some big factors that go into making a seamless digital experience for your residents: 

Accessibility is at the heart of digitizing government services. 

Federal ADA regulations, of course, prohibit discrimination against disabled people, but minimal regulatory requirements shouldn’t be the driving force behind your agency’s website or application accessibility. The goal is to serve all of your residents equitably.

To keep accessibility at the forefront of your digital strategy, set aside time for regular staff training, QA test your digital products, and diligently assess technology vendors.

And consider:

  • Use of assistive technology such as text-to-speech and head pointers
  • Design choices like font, colors, and layout
  • The function of the site or application 

Inclusive digital experiences improve the user experience for everyone, and an aggressive approach to accessibility will save you time and money in the long run: there’s less tech debt and your agency is less likely to have to make costly improvements later on. 

Build resident trust with best-in-class privacy and security features. 

Consumers trust top-notch digital apps because they feel secure — and this is especially true for online payment tools, such as digital solutions for government, that store sensitive information. In fact, in NASCIO’s 2022 State Application Modernization Report, 88% of respondents said that better security was one of the most meaningful benefits of digital upgrades. 

While there’s a lot that goes into privacy and data protection, here are a few main aspects of digital security that are noted as top priorities in the NASCIO 2023 list:

  • Identity managementIdentity management is the process of verifying a user’s identity and helps protect against compromised credentials. Features such as multi-factor authentication services, single sign-on, and passwordless experiences are all part of identity and access management.
  • Risk managementVendors should have a well thought-out plan to identify and prioritize technology vulnerabilities and cyber threats. 
  • Digital privacy
    Residents want to be in control of their personal information, and they’re becoming more savvy when it comes to protecting their data. Tech vendors should provide clear language that details if and how user information is collected, stored, and used.

Modernize legacy applications (while giving residents a great experience). 

Many government agencies are working with clunky, outdated technology. Large legacy systems were cited as one of the top three challenges to modernization in NASCIO’s 2022 State Application Modernization Report, and listed as one of the top 2023 priorities reported by CIOs (second only to identity management). 

Many legacy systems are too outdated (or too complicated) to update quickly, and in essence, they’re holding government digital services back. In those cases, it makes sense to partner with a vendor to improve the front-end user experience — enabling your IT team to focus on the more time-consuming changes to the back-end system. 

How PayIt’s technology benefits residents and government agencies. 

This is what drives PayIt: We help government agencies shine with a user-friendly digital experience and free up staff time so they can concentrate on improving legacy back-office systems.   

Review your modernization efforts. 

There are several approaches to updating legacy systems. Do you make fixes or start from scratch? At some point, IT teams have to decide whether they’ll rebuild or replace — each approach comes with risks and costs. There’s no one right answer, but your agency should choose the avenue that makes the biggest impact with a manageable risk factor and price tag.

Get familiar with key modernization technology. 

There are numerous tech options to modernize a legacy system. Cloud services (public and private) are a common solution along with composable technology (a modular approach that allows IT teams to reconfigure, repurpose, and redeploy functional components). Microservices, third-party automation, and AI can also be useful. 

Implementing modern technology gives government agencies more agility — making it easier to keep up with residents’ evolving expectations and needs. 

Legacy application modernization doesn’t happen overnight. 

In NASCIO’s 2020 and 2021 State CIO survey, legacy modernization was ranked number five, but it jumped to priority number two in 2022 (and stayed in that place for 2023). NASCIO notes, “This is likely because the fragility of these systems were exposed during the pandemic and due to additional funding that has been proposed and provided to states to modernize legacy systems.” It’s a continuing issue for government agencies — but now, CIOs have more support behind their mission to improve digital services. 

CIOs are taking the lead on digital service modernization. 

As of 2022, just 14% of state agencies had a fully implemented identity and access management solution. But CIOs and agency IT teams are leading the way when it comes to digital transformation: They’re looking to the latest technology and partnering with best-in-class vendors to create digital experiences that are secure and user-friendly. 

Resident experience and legacy app modernization go hand-in-hand. 

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Make the resident experience your focus. CIOs are facing big technology challenges, but approaching modernization efforts with the community in mind is more likely to lead to success.  

Best practices to take with you: 

  • Be strategic when working with technology partners (think interoperable, iterable solutions)
  • Set a vision and maintain control of your agency’s goal
  • Embrace modernization as a process not a task to check off 
  • Keep humans at the heart of your digital services and modernization efforts 

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