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The Promise of Life-Event Service Delivery

It’s an opportunity for governments to dramatically improve access to critical services, guiding people step by step through what too often is an unnecessarily arduous process.

Connecticut business checklist
Connecticut’s “one-stop-shop” portal for people starting a new company, relocating or expanding generates a customized checklist to guide users through the process. (Source: Business.Ct.gov)
No one wants to navigate a government bureaucracy after experiencing a significant or shocking life event. Whether it’s someone who becomes homeless after a natural disaster, or who loses a job due to an injury, or who retires from the military, Americans shouldn’t have to run an arduous gauntlet to access critical services.

Yet today, while government tools and resources are available to help people who experience a major life change, agencies generally expect citizens to start from scratch, with significant barriers to information and little ease of access. To begin to rectify this, late last year President Joe Biden signed an executive order to bring life-event service delivery to citizens across the United States.

The president’s directive aims to reorganize the delivery of government services around five specific life events: retirement, having children, leaving the military, surviving natural disasters and navigating financial shocks. It represents a transformational and highly impactful mindset shift for government agencies that provide critical services, and it recognizes that delivering life-event services entails coordinating with states that administer so many federal services and programs. The life-event approach to service delivery is a major opportunity for state and local governments to dramatically improve how they provide services to their constituents, one we explore in a new report.

Several states are already making progress in life-event service delivery. Connecticut’s one-stop shop portal, for example, organizes information and services related to owning and running a business, such as starting a new company, managing a business, or relocating or expanding a business. The portal generates a customized checklist to guide business owners through the process. In neighboring New York, the state is embarking on a journey of providing life-event services to deliver integrated support and resources to its residents.

No life-event service delivery program has yet reached full maturity, but in other parts of the world several show promise. In Australia, for example, New South Wales provides resources to guide people step by step through the death of a loved one, including grief support, will execution and the cancellation of state benefits. In addition, all of the birth, death and marriage registries across Australian states and territories have collaborated to develop a national death notification service. Through the service, the notifier can choose relevant organizations to inform about the death of a loved one and provide contact details for the next steps, if any.

As governments begin to restructure the delivery of government services around specific life events, they’re finding common challenges. To respond to them, agencies can measure their projects by referencing four levels of maturity:

Level 1: Service delivery is oriented around the needs of agencies. It’s the status quo.

Level 2: Agencies have collected government services in one place. While citizens still have to visit different agencies or departments for each tool or resource, all the relevant starting points are bundled together in a single location.

Level 3: Government services have begun integration. Agencies have established limited data sharing and some collaborative mechanisms, including governance models that clarify their roles and incentives in interagency projects.

Level 4: Fully mature programs exhibit a frictionless experience on the front end. Citizens only need to inform the government about a specific life event once. The life-event service delivery platform keeps data secure. No long paperwork is required.
Life events services chart
(Source: Deloitte)
Today, most life-event service delivery programs are in their early stages – at maturity level 1 or 2. Funding is ad hoc and hard to anticipate. Governance models do not definitively assign responsibility for collaborative efforts between agencies. Government employees have agency-specific roles — not cross-agency roles — that their performance depends on. Policies might even restrict cross-agency collaboration. But there’s a significant opportunity for governments to scale and reach higher maturity levels.

Mature life-event service delivery programs employ sophisticated data and governance models. Their data architecture enables agencies and private-sector partners to seamlessly share data. Shared funding models incentivize integrated service delivery. Governance supports cross-agency collaboration. Workforce models enable distinct agencies to contribute staff to shared teams. And cross-agency teams remain flexible and agile in order to deliver timely and effective citizen services.

As governments at all levels aim to transform citizen services and provide life-event service delivery, agencies can measure their progress against these four maturity models and realize the promise of better customer service for the American people.



Governing's opinion columns reflect the views of their authors and not necessarily those of Governing's editors or management.
Executive director of the Deloitte Center for Government Insights
A research manager with Deloitte’s Center for Government Insights
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