News from the USA

December 18, 2008

I have to thank Rachel Flagg of the US Federal Web Managers Group for posting their white paper on the W3C e-government Interest Group. It’s a very interesting expression of their wishes for the future from President-elect Obama’s government IT and as such it is promising. It’s only four pages long, which also makes a change from many documents, public and commercial.

If the Cabinet Office think the U.K. has problems, the report states that: “There are approximately 24,000 U.S. Government websites now online (but no one knows the exact number).”

It also states: “Many agencies focus more on technology and website infrastructure than improving content and service delivery. Technology should not drive our business decisions, but rather help us serve the needs of the American people.” To which I couldn’t agree more!

One of the plans is that citizens will: “Provide feedback and ideas and hear what the government will do with them.” – Which is what this blog is all about!

Importantly it wants government to:

“Ensure the public gets the same answer whether they use the web, phone, email, print, or visit in-person. Agencies should provide multiple ways for people to contact them and ensure that information is consistent across all channels. They should be funded to coordinate all types of content targeted to the general public (web, publications, call center, email, common questions, web chat, etc). Agencies should be rewarded for delivering consistent information, both within agencies and across government.”

In the words of parliamentarians, here, here!

In case anyone wonders there is a Public Sector Web Managers Group in the UK, small and beautifully-formed, which has a lot of Paul Canning in it…


June 28, 2008

My concerns about benchmarking, targets and related matters, whilst not universal appears to have some adherants! During the last week have discussed it amongst colleagues at Socitm (Yorkshire & Humber) and with Paul Canning and Public Sector Web Managers Group.

I also discoved a paper from the U.S. General Services Administration – Improving Citizen Customer Service V 1.0, which also supports my theory and also uses the term ‘yardstick’ which I think is a much better term when dealing with purely internal metrics as opposed to (possible) target setting. If you don’t want to read it all, just focus on chapters 5 and 6.

Four of the eight guidelines in the conclusions are:

“A quantitative “value” for citizen satisfaction can be used as a yardstick for trends. This value can be defined in various ways. Agencies can track the percentage of citizens who expressed complete satisfaction with their contact or use a scoring system defined internally or by a third party.

Qualitative satisfaction questions and information will help agencies analyze citizens’ expectations and areas in which they are not meeting those expectations.

Quantitative (and to some extent qualitative) satisfaction data should be used to examine the correlation between the performance metrics and benchmarks used in this document and citizen satisfaction. For example, if improving average handle times at an agency is not resulting in an increase in satisfaction scores, the agency’s time and effort is better spent elsewhere in the service environment.

Surveys can be conducted at the end of a contact or within a reasonable timeframe after
the interaction.”

and also states:

“Performance metrics described in this document are only effective if they are captured, reported and analyzed in a timely manner and reach the right decision maker. Also, metrics should be used not in isolation but in the context of a strategy and methodology.”

Of course I’m not arguing to import this wholeheartedly from the USA, if one reads the document it is still rather onerous for a small organisation but data integration and analyis or Extraction, Transformation and Loading (ETL) can be done – if only GovMetric weren’t so expensive ! It’d blow NI14 into last year…