How the bipartisan infrastructure bill could accelerate digital transformation

Digital Transformation

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will pave the way for state and local government digital transformation. The proposed legislation will ramp up spending on roads, bridges, water systems, electric grids, public transit and more. In particular, the investments in cybersecurity and broadband internet are encouraging for projects of government modernization

“More constituents want to interact with their government anywhere, anytime and from any device. Making high-speed internet more accessible and affordable to all Americans will boost the demand for digital government services and payments.”

~ Jeff Craver, Chief Government Relations Officer

Bipartisan agreement to benefit the entire U.S. economy 

The infrastructure bill aims to grow the U.S. economy, create jobs and improve living standards. The proposal includes $550 billion in new spending and is a product of weeks of negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators and the White House. 

The funding package includes:

  • $2 billion to modernize and secure critical infrastructure and government systems
  • $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable high-speed internet
  • $39 billion to modernize transit and $ 11 billion in transportation safety programs
  • $110 billion to fund roads, bridges and major projects
  • $17 billion for ports, $25 billion for airports and $66 billion for rail infrastructure
  • $55 billion to bring clean drinking water to Americans
  • $65 billion to strengthen the power infrastructure

Investments in cybersecurity and broadband internet will leverage initiatives of digital transformation in government. Cybersecurity funding brings an opportunity to replace legacy systems with more secure digital technologies to keep agencies’ and citizens’ data safe from breaches and cyberattacks. More access to the internet will lead to an increased demand for digital public services and electronic payments.

Cybersecurity is a top priority

Cybersecurity is one of the top 10 programs in the bipartisan bill. The U.S. government is concerned about cybersecurity breaches of government data systems and cyberattacks against critical infrastructure. 

The public sector is a tempting target for ransomware attacks threatening to paralyze services and networks. To give you an idea of the potential risk, cybersecurity provider Armis has recently identified nine vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure used by over 3,000 hospitals worldwide. Attackers could sabotage hospital operations by gaining access to the system responsible for delivering lab samples and medications across different facilities. As noted by Armis, securing the critical infrastructure that serves citizens is paramount. 

The current administration has made cybersecurity a strategic priority, releasing  a “National Security Memorandum on Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems” at the end of July. The document outlines the importance of infrastructure systems to national security and public health. Now with the new legislation, $2 billion will be directed to: 

  • Modernize and secure local, state and federal IT systems and networks
  • Protect utilities and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks
  • Support public or private organizations responding or recovering to major breaches and cyberattack incidents

State and local governments will be able to use federal funding to improve their security posture. That’s an opportunity to replace outdated legacy systems with more secure, cloud-based platforms.

Legacy modernization improves security

A legacy system is an infrastructure or application running in outdated language. Those systems are functional but are a burden to maintain due to their limitations and risks—for example, lack of integration with new technologies and known security vulnerabilities. 

The pandemic has accelerated the need for legacy modernization. According to Gartner, that’s one of the top 10 government technology trends for 2021. Gartner predicts that over 50% of government agencies will have modernized critical core legacy applications by 2025. 

Moving legacy software to the cloud adds security and operational efficiency, leading to improved savings too. In its Total Economic Impact (TEI) study of the ROI of PayIt,  Forrester concluded that:

  • Legacy payment systems were a burden for internal IT teams to maintain
  • There was a lower citizen adoption of legacy payment solutions because they were not user-friendly
  • Deploying PayIt’s cloud-based platform freed up the time of IT personnel, contributing to increased productivity worth $629,326 over three years (based on governments with 100,000 transactions annually)

E-government platform for secure transactions and data protection

PayIt has helped state and local governments modernize their IT infrastructure. We understand that security and compliance to strict government standards are challenges for most organizations embarking on digital transformation.

PayIt’s platform meets the highest regulatory and compliance requirements because it is built in the AWS GovCloud – the most secure government cloud available. Our solution has:

  • PCI Level 1 Merchant certification to protect residents and agencies from credit card fraud
  • Strong encryption to shield data from cyberattacks
  • Backup and disaster recovery to protect against server crashes or natural disasters

New funding to bridge the digital divide

The massive investment in broadband infrastructure is similar to the historic government efforts to ensure all Americans had access to electricity almost one hundred years ago. With this new funding, the policymakers hope to address the inequalities in internet access in the United States. 

Reliable high-speed internet service became vital during the COVID-19 lockdowns that forced many organizations to shift to remote forms of work. Poor quality of internet connection is one of the top 10 challenges faced by remote employees, according to a report by digital experience monitoring company Lakeside Software

School e-learning during the pandemic shed light on the digital divide in America. Many children across the country had to gather in the parking lots outside restaurant chains, schools or libraries to find broadband access to attend virtual schooling. 

Internet inequalities across the U.S.

Low-income households, racialized and rural communities struggle with unreliable or inexistent internet offerings. According to the White House, Black families are 9% less likely to have high-speed internet access than white peers. This percentual reaches 15% in the case of the Latino community.

Internet providers overlook many low-income and rural areas. The White House notes that over 30 million Americans live in regions with no infrastructure delivering minimally acceptable network speeds. For example, 14.7% of Alaskans live in areas without broadband infrastructure under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) benchmark.

Here are some of the new legislation’s provisions to close the digital divide:

  1. Low-cost plans. Fund recipients will have to offer low-cost broadband options for the communities they serve. 
  2. Increased competition. The bill will encourage increased competition in areas where existing providers are not providing adequate service.
  3. Digital redlining ban. The FCC will be required to adopt rules banning digital redlining. That’s the practice of investing less in broadband infrastructure in low-income or marginalized areas.
  4. Broadband Nutrition Label. The bill will require internet providers to display a Broadband Nutrition Label, which will enable families to get better deals by comparing their internet service options.
  5. Digital Equity Act. The goal is to create new grant programs for digital inclusion.
  6. Affordable Connectivity Benefit. This new, permanent program will help low-income households afford internet access. According to the White House, over one in four households will be eligible for this new benefit.

Opportunity to meet citizens where they are

Affordable broadband internet will drive citizen interest in easy-to-use online services and electronic payments. For governments, that’s an opportunity to deliver a better user experience – anywhere, anytime and on any device – and increase online revenue collection. PayIt can help your agency to prepare for this new wave of e-citizens. 

PayIt consolidates digital government services and online payments into one scalable, custom-branded platform. Our solution integrates with agencies’ data and is tailored to their specific business needs and workflows. PayIt’s digital wallet enables your citizens to securely store their receipts, IDs and electronic payment methods.

Digitalization improves government efficiency

Increased online access to public services reduces document and payment processing for faster service delivery and payment recollection. In addition, digitalization reduces walk-in visits to government offices. Your agency will be able to cut costs, such as those associated with mailing bills and processing physical checks.

Agencies also realize higher revenue when making it easier and faster for citizens to pay their bills. One example is the possibility of setting automatic reminders for when a payment is due. A success story comes from the City of St. Louis, which experienced a 98% year-over-year growth in online revenue after launching a digital platform powered by PayIt. 

Favorable momentum to modernize agencies

The new infrastructure bill creates a favorable momentum to push forward digital transformation in the public sector. State and local governments can seize this opportunity to digitalize their operations to meet the increasing demands for secure and seamless online service delivery.

PayIt’s clients serve more than 80 million constituents with a secure platform for digital services and electronics payments. We can do the same for your organization. Request a demo now