Pennsylvania CIO says digital commerce is ‘great model’ for government transactions

As it continues modernizing the digital services it offers to its residents, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is looking to online retailers as examples for its customer-service overhaul, CIO John MacMillan told StateScoop recently.

During an interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers midyear conference last month, MacMillan gave an update on the customer-service modernization effort the state kicked off three years ago.

“We really started thinking about customer experience differently,” he said. “The digital marketplace sets expectations for constitutions on how they want to interact with a business, and we think that is a great model for interacting with the state government.”

Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order in 2019 aimed at “transforming” state government services and creating “one-stop shops” where Pennsylvanians can access multiple services under a single umbrella.

Three years in, MacMillan said the “Citizens First” initiative, as Wolf’s order was called, has several core design components: A single log-in, single portal, single destination, a common look and feel to websites, a single customer-service phone number and customer satisfaction surveys after transactions are completed.

“It’d be great if constituents could trust an application or website by knowing it’s an official application or website,” MacMillan said.

While MacMillan eyed online retail as the design model, he said he’s also looking at the federal government’s as Pennsylvania develops its single sign-on function.

“We like the idea that an identity should precede a citizen’s interaction with government wherever they are in the U.S.,” he said. “We have about 11 million identities in our repositories today, and it’s not completely harmonized.”

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