In a recent survey, 82 percent of government employees said staffing shortages have increased their workloads. This added stress and scope of work are burning out employees – to the point where a third of respondents are ready to quit.
Solving government IT staffing shortages is one of the top priorities of agencies as we continue into 2023. However, hiring more staff isn’t – and can’t – always be the only solution. Governments can combat shortages by leveraging tech to enable data sharing, automate manual processes, and utilize digital solutions to increase overall staff capacity.
Data Sharing: Optimizing Resources & Restructuring Legacy Silos
In the face of IT staffing shortages, agencies should practice data sharing to optimize the resources they have. By enabling connections between departments, agencies create an accessible and interactive network of data. Instead of relying on another staff member to forward needed information, documentation, and more, it is accessed straight away.
For example, if the fire department has access to planning and permit documents, they can efficiently prepare for inspections or respond to emergencies. Knowledge of hazardous materials or sprinkler systems can be pulled to inform emergency responders before they step through the door.
By having better insight into all the relevant data available, agencies can perform a more thorough data analysis and use advanced machine learning to adjust their resources and increase efficiency by prioritizing higher-risk facilities. This could result in fire departments focusing more time on a building at higher risk of fires, for example.
By utilizing one platform, agencies are empowered to collaborate and mitigate bottlenecks, allowing them to make better informed decisions and leverage current staff to the fullest without additional work. This increases staff capacity without the need to search for employees or reallocate responsibilities between staff members.
Automation: End to End Experiences for Staff and Residents
Alongside data-sharing practices, agencies can free up capacity to focus on critical initiatives by automating processes from start to finish.
Transitioning from a paper-based system to a fully automated digital experience eliminates the burden of manual oversight or face-to-face interactions. Not only does this improve staff capacity, but it also emulates the way residents do business in so many other ways, with the convenience they have come to expect. As a result, a contractor looking to receive a permit can do so completely online, without having to step foot into a government office. A nurse completes occupational licensing requirements from the comfort and convenience of home. A resident no longer needs to visit City Hall to get their business up and running.
By transforming how residents, businesses and government work together through automation, agencies improve the overall resident experience, free up staff capacity for other services that need oversight and reduce the weight of staff shortages.
Digital Solutions: Patching Empty Legacy Positions
In addition to automation, digital solutions like chatbots, machine learning, smart algorithms, and natural language processing help improve access to critical services.
State and local government agencies spent an estimated $118.7 billion on IT expenditures in 2021. In 2022, more and more municipalities recognized how chatbots, machine learning, and smart algorithms increase resident engagement, build stronger communities, and improve staff experience.
Chatbots can handle simple customer inquiries like reporting potholes, signing up for city services, or applying for a permit to free staff for other issues. Machine learning or smart algorithms identify inefficiencies and understand how resources are allocated across an agency.
For example, they can identify that the wait time for a remodeling permit is 15 days but the wait time for new construction is 65 days and adjust resources to expedite the wait time for new construction.
Government agencies are turning to modern govtech solutions to increase their resiliency and combat IT staffing shortages in 2023. Agencies are burdened by talent shortages, many key employees with knowledge of legacy systems are reaching retirement, and aging digital infrastructure no longer meets the critical needs of residents. The pandemic accelerated agencies’ digital migration – and current IT team gaps necessitate an even greater transition. Agencies must turn to tech to patch IT staff shortages.
This article was originally published in Government Technology Insider.