Bad digital services can damage public trust, Deloitte study finds

Agencies that faltered online during the pandemic — such as unemployment insurance — achieved the lowest trust scores with the public.
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Deloitte published a study Wednesday showing that government agencies with effective digital services garner higher levels of trust with the public.

The consulting firm surveyed more than 6,000 adults across the United States and discovered that people had the highest level of trust with their local governments, followed by state government, followed by federal government. But at all levels of government, researchers found, government agencies can use digital services to make themselves appear less distant. 

“Citizens tend to trust proximate government more than distant government,” the report reads. “By design, digital services make distant services more proximate, creating a direct interaction.  Because digital is now a first point of interaction for government to generate a positive impression, a positive online experience and secure and user-friendly services can be very important.”

RJ Krawiec, a principal with Deloitte, told StateScoop that “closeness of the government to the people mattered.”


“Being able to touch, feel, see, some knowledge of what’s happening, who’s doing it — transparency really seemed to matter,” Krawiec said.

Researchers also examined trust by agency type, finding that unemployment insurance and motor vehicle divisions — two state government departments that failed to keep up with demand during the pandemic — were the least trusted.

Krawiec also pointed to examples of where effective digital services were boosting the public’s trust, such as the creation of a small-business portal in Connecticut that curates resources — such as guides and permit applications — for business owners. Officials in West Virginia in August celebrated the success of a similar portal launched in 2017. West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said 99% of the state’s business filings are now done online.

Colin Wood

Written by Colin Wood

Colin Wood is the editor in chief of StateScoop and EdScoop. He's reported on government information technology policy for more than a decade, on topics including cybersecurity, IT governance and public safety.

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