Insight by DocuSign

Agencies can relieve citizen burdens by modernizing their workflows

Agencies and industry alike have talked ad nauseam about how the pandemic has changed the way they work.

But now, more than ever, agencies have an opportunity to rethink how they deliver services to citizens based on what they have learned over the past two years and, maybe more importantly, what their customers have come to expect.

From President Joe Biden’s executive order on customer service to new focus on five life experiences including retirement,...

READ MORE

Shape

Trends In Digitizing Citizen Services

“We're seeing examples in agencies where things that may have taken 100 hours have been reduced to a few hours in one day. It's just about thinking about what's working and how can it be done better or different,”
-- Fred Butler, Jr. the senior director for industry strategy and solutions at DocuSign

Shape

Partnerships that Impact Citizen Services

“DocuSign really accelerates the experience across virtually any platform or device. We eliminate manual tasks with configurable and automated workflows, and we're generating value for the agencies by seamlessly connecting workflow management with the overall tools that each of their teams are using on a day to day basis,”
-- Fred Butler, Jr. the senior director for industry strategy and solutions at DocuSign

Agencies and industry alike have talked ad nauseam about how the pandemic has changed the way they work.

But now, more than ever, agencies have an opportunity to rethink how they deliver services to citizens based on what they have learned over the past two years and, maybe more importantly, what their customers have come to expect.

From President Joe Biden’s executive order on customer service to new focus on five life experiences including retirement, recovering from a disaster and transitioning to civilian life from the military, agencies are rethinking what service need to look like.

A big piece of that reimaging federal services is moving off of paper documents, taking advantage of cloud based software and easing the burden of sharing information across the government.

Some agencies are more aggressive than others in adopting electronic services, particularly e-signatures. The General Services Administration, the IRS and the Security and Exchange Commission, to name a few, are moving toward that self-service, mobile-friendly, digital model.

The benefits of this model are clear to those who use it.

Fred Butler, the senior director for industry strategy and solutions at DocuSign, said it will take a much bigger and continuous focus on both the customer externally and internally by the workforce for others to jump on the bandwagon.

“The biggest thing is really thinking about burden and the administrative burden in terms of facilitating workflows, which is something that we do regularly in business,” Butler said on the Innovation in Government show. “This is something that the government must do actively to really think about what are those things that can be refined and replaced in a way that enables things to be streamlined to be much more efficient, generating more value internally to the operations and also improve the employees’ experience of the work that they’re doing on a daily basis.”

From hundreds of hours down to a few

A recent example of an agency doing this is the Homeland Security Department. It recently challenged its workforce to reduce the paperwork burden by 20 million hours out of 190 million hours the agency puts on the public each year.

For DHS, and other agencies for that matter, Butler said that could mean moving paper forms to digital services, which would reduce burden, errors and time to process the services.

“We’re seeing examples in agencies where things that may have taken 100 hours have been reduced to a few hours in one day. It’s just about thinking about what’s working and how can it be done better or different,” he said. “We’ve worked with one large agency who really was thinking about the inspections process and the applications that go along with inspections. The reality that the information that they had was enabling potentially two inspectors to be at the same location conducting an inspection at the same time. By modifying their process, they could capture the information that they needed with one inspector and spread that information to the various components within an agency to give each the information that they needed to do their jobs appropriately.”

Butler said this example is one that could be repeated many times over across the government. DocuSign estimates that the public sector relies on 25,000 forms and it costs an estimated $40 billion to manage and update content that is still being done in a paper format. It also costs approximately $117 billion in “time tax” to fill the paperwork out, to ensure that it’s done correctly, to send it through the workflows internal to the government and to hopefully get it back to the constituent or customer in a timely manner.

“There is a tremendous opportunity for change,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of agencies are really taking this opportunity to address the opportunity to improve and to transform their systems. But there’s so much more that can be done.”

Improve workflows, mitigate security risks

Butler pointed to another example with an agency that manages an appeals process.

“We were able to see that agency recognized value that included a 70% reduction in email. There was an improvement from 99 to 17 days in terms of the workflow process. This generates value for both the customers and their constituents,” he said. “DocuSign really accelerates the experience across virtually any platform or device. We eliminate manual tasks with configurable and automated workflows, and we’re generating value for the agencies by seamlessly connecting workflow management with the overall tools that each of their teams are using on a day to day basis.”

Additionally, he said moving away from paper, improving the workflows and using commercial cloud services also can mitigate security and other risks.

Improving an agency’s workflow, Butler said, can have a bigger impact on constituents than just digitizing a paper form.

He said several agencies have already digitized forms, but into PDF documents that still need to be emailed.

“All of that can be done, authenticated in a more refined approach. We’re seeing examples of that occur. Some of those examples are really being magnified by multiple solutions working together in an effective way,” Butler said. “You may have a couple of different parties working with an agency to ensure that this solution that is provided is one that goes from A to Z. It’s really thinking about the whole process and how the full workflow is going to be engaged in a refined manner. That is something that we’re seeing a lot more of now.”

Butler added the overall goal is for agencies to rethink their entire workflow, understanding the chain of command, taking advantage of digital signatures and manage the entire process.

“There’s a huge value to the government to be able to look at the various different components of paper and agreements that they have across each of the components. Oftentimes, there is an ability to use analytics and be able to see where they are getting the most value. What processes are being put in place to achieve that value? Who are some of the players that are contributing and generating the most bang for the constituent or the US, and their resources in government?” he said. “I think that there’s a wealth of opportunity to think about program management across government because it’s that one variable that is consistent in every agency. To achieve the mission, you have to implement programs and to implement those programs effectively you have to streamline your processes and more effectively use partners to help achieve your goals.”