2018 is perhaps one of the most exciting times for civic engagement this country has witnessed in the past several decades. A fervent energy is sweeping across communities as people are encouraged to take action and engage with the local, state, and federal governments more than ever before. While politicians in the public eye are certainly receiving record-breaking feedback from constituents, government agencies — the quiet engines pushing our governments forward- remain largely absent from the conversation.
Agencies spanning from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to your local DMV are responsible for the creation and enforcement of regulations that govern how we live and operate. Their decisions are far-reaching, ranging from the definition of “plant-based” meat alternatives to the regulation of cryptocurrency, and have significant implications for our economic, social, and environmental well-being. Considering the tremendous responsibilities held by government agencies, it’s surprising that the rebirth of civic engagement has not equally translated to administrators and regulatory processes. Without a paradigm shift in the tools and systems for our public administrators, the surging tide of civic energy won’t be able to reach the shore of policy-making processes in government.
While there is no shortage of apps and ways to reach your elected representatives, there simply aren’t quality tools that empower government administrators to effectively collect and translate citizen feedback into dynamic and responsive regulation. Government agencies hold a wealth of data and institutional knowledge that could easily be deployed to upgrade regulatory processes, but dated technology infrastructures make it a daunting if not impossible feat.
Governments are slowly but surely beginning to recognize and adapt to the growing demand for data analysis and management solutions. GovTech’s 2018 Digital States report indicates that “business intelligence and analytics” is the second most-needed skill for state government employees. In fact, 68% of states reported at least one full-time position in data analytics and business intelligence. The same percentage of states have a position for open data, and 62% of states have at least one position for performance metrics (GovTech). Faced with the facts, it’s clear that government enthusiasm is not lacking for data solutions.
The true driver of dysfunction is the lack of industry-standard technology to meet uniquely complex government needs. The available solutions are not intentionally built to power the internal processes of agencies, like rulemaking, rule analysis, and enforcement. While top business industries enjoy turnkey software tools that can free up users’ time to focus on their most important work, governments have been left with decades-old systems, physical paper transmission, and a myriad of piecemeal solutions. To no fault of their own, government agencies are squarely stuck in 20th-century software due to a lack of technology in the space.
At Esper, we’re changing this by partnering with governments to deliver software that streamlines their policy process. Our mission is to empower our public leaders with a technology infrastructure that helps accomplish their goals for data-driven, responsive public policy.