US Chamber To Government: Digitize 10,000 Paper Forms, Save 10 Billion Hours
US companies lead the world in digital transformation technologies, but few of those innovations have made their way to federal, state, and local government. The Chamber of Commerce wants to fix this by its recommendations into action; convened hundreds of public and private leaders for its inaugural Digital Transformation Summit. Keynotes featured the information leaders of the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget; Senator Gary Peters, Rep. Gary Kilmer and a dozen current and form federal and state information technology (IT) leaders. While the citizen satisfaction, cost efficiency, and resilience benefits of digitization are known, the Summit showcased transformative IT leaders in government today, detailed the elements of successful public-private cooperations, and strategized how to overcome obstacles to change.
“From Dated to Digitized” Panel Highlights Transformational IT Leaders In Government
The pandemic proved a shock to the system for many federal agencies and ignited process improvements overnight. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) already had major IT projects underway, notably the health care record integration with the Department of Defense (ensuring that a person who serves in America’s armed forces has a single record across the US government for health and service). Paul Brubaker, Deputy Chief Information Officer of the Department of Veterans, explained how Covid catalyzed digital health care for millions of US veterans. In fact, VA hospitals were commandeered during the pandemic to serve the public. As of January, 3.5 million more can process claims online for exposure to toxic substances as part of the PACT Act. The Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act, or MISSION Act, expand healthcare access further and improves the quality of care.
Brubaker explained that a major IT requirement could hobble an organization, but instead, the VA has used each opportunity accelerate its digital transformation journey, driving a higher and better level of activity and quality in the organization. VA staffed worked remotely through the pandemic to ensure service to veterans and today augments those capabilities with automation and artificial intelligence. The digital transformation not only improves service for veterans, it enhances the relationship between the VA and other agencies.
Over half a billion people interact with the Department of the Interior (DOI) every year but don’t know it. DOI Chief Information Officer Darren Ash explained how DOI manages US national parks, national monuments, and other natural, historical, and recreational properties—and even runs schools on Native American reservations. DOI is in the midst of IT transformation not just to manage the day-to-day demands of visitors, but to preserve and make available a treasure trove of hundreds of years of paper documents relating to the founding of these properties. Ash detailed how agencies can learn from each other, describing his work at USDA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission where he implemented Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), meant to improve how feds use IT assets.
Most Americans know the easy, seamless DocuSign experience which helps to enable the Anywhere Economy. DocuSign’s 1 million customers have enabled over 1 billion electronic agreements and eSignatures. Michael “MJ” Jackson, Vice President & Global Head of Industries at DocuSign detailed the learning experience of federal agencies as they implement digital technologies, collaborating with partners to make government work better for citizens.
Zebra Technologies, noted for its barcode and RFID solutions which underpin the supply chain of Wal-Mart and other global retailers, help organizations sense, analyze, and act in real time. John Wirthlin, Technologies’ Industry Principal for the Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics, detailed how Zebra’s tech drives safety, specificity, and efficiency in US government distribution of medial and pharmaceutical supplies.
The IRS and the Taxpayers’ Paper Cut
A ground breaking Chamber of Commerce report noted a staggering $143 billion annually is spent on government information collections alone. It highlighted low-hanging fruit to digitize passport renewals, tax returns, customs declarations, and employee eligibility verification. It also documented the financial burden of the federal government on the public: $42 billion in hours and forms from the US Treasury; $32 billion from Securities and Exchange Commission for forms and administration, among other agencies.
Remote online notarization, an ability to get documents legally notarized completely online, is another important digitization trend. Recent federal legislation in the SECURE Notarization Act would deliver the benefits and efficiencies of remote online notarization to Americans nationwide. While the legislation could be reintroduced and passed in this Congress, some federal agencies are already embracing the technology. Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that they are setting in motion a plan to make one COVID policy permanent: relief to allow for the use of remote notarizations of spousal consents and other participant elections for retirement plan withdrawals.