During the pandemic, state and local government agencies accelerated the shift to digital services to keep vital programs and services running. However, according to Adam Thornton, the general manager for NIC Pennsylvania, there is now a new wave of the digital transformation movement. 


For the state of Pennsylvania, efforts to shift to digital service strengthened resiliency and offered convenient new service options that were embraced by constituents. However, like many other state governments, the shift consisted solely in digitization efforts, “essentially shifting paper and in-person services to online platforms,” Thornton explained during a GovExec event on Jan. 12. 


But today, digital transformation has evolved. State and local governments are looking back at the pieces that were ignored during that rush to digitize – specifically areas like usability, accessibility, and standardizations, Thornton noted. 


“These were areas ignored in this mass rush to get things online. We have all these services online now, but it’s about how we align those services to needs now. It’s no longer about being online but are these services easy to use, and can we access them,” Thornton said. 


Specifically, this became crucial for Pennsylvania at the height of the pandemic. The state, Thornton noted, witnessed a large increase in traffic onto government sites for information on essential services.


“We a giant influx of traffic, and we had to accommodate quickly to make sure Pennsylvania residents were able to access those sites. We had people on the back end making sure that these sites were accessible and delivered these critical services and information that changed hourly,” Thornton said.  


However, many state and local agencies may argue that they have already completed their digital transformation. Thornton explains that “many state agencies took their legacy systems and moved them to a digital platform.” In this new wave, agencies would revitalize those systems to stand on their own and deal with an influx in traffic while still delivering information and services efficiently and in real-time.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.