California is the innovation capital of the world, but its government services lag decades behind in using modern technology to deliver citizen services. Governor Newsom’s budget proposal to include a request for the creation of a digital service is a welcome first step to address the state’s antiquated IT infrastructure.
Californians expect a seamless experience from the government – whether they’re looking up wait times at the DMV or reporting non-emergency issues like fallen trees – that mirrors the ease and convenience of the resources and tools they use in their everyday life. Residents of the Golden State can listen to music, order products, and connect with friends with just a few taps of the thumb, but too often government websites and technology are painfully outdated. Some public sites turn off at night or can only be accessed using browsers created nearly a decade ago – before many of today’s successful internet companies even existed.
Governor Newsom’s proposal to create a new Office of Digital Innovation will help streamline the state’s delivery of digital services. In his budget proposal this past January, Newsom asked for fifty new positions and a startup budget of $36 million to stand up a team of technologists to tackle these problems. This new office would reside under the Government Operations Agency and would have an ongoing annual budget of $14.6 million to aid government departments in enhancing their end-user digital experiences. This is a small increase to California’s existing IT budget (less than 1 percent of the amount the state currently spends on tech), but one that can yield great results.