The General Services Administration (GSA) is aiming to put people at the center of its ongoing effort to digitize government services, especially with recent updates to two major websites that function as “front doors” for citizens to access government information and services, an agency technology official said this week.


As part of that effort, GSA since late last year and up through earlier this month has released updated beta versions of the website and the Spanish-language version – en Español. The agency views that work as major steps toward improving citizen experience.


“In everything we do, we want to deliver a more well-designed, responsive, and trusted digital government experience,” Leilani Martinez, the acting director of the Public Experience Portfolio in GSA’s Technology Transformation Services organization, said during an April 27 online event organized by Federal News Network.


This citizen service work is part of a broader push from the White House to reshape how the government delivers services via a 2021 executive order on customer experience, and through the President’s Management Agenda. The order looks to reposition as the “Federal front door” with information about all programs and services.


“During the process of developing the new iteration of our sites, one of the data sources that we analyzed and took very much into account was our contact center data. We need to understand how people contact us through the phone or chat. What are they asking, what words are they using, how are they framing their issues, needs, or problem?” Martinez said.


The key, she said, is to ensure that the sites have the right content that “feeds both the website and the contact center,” and that the content remains the same “irrespective of the platform they choose to connect with.” 


“We pride ourselves in being an omnichannel platform … our mission is to serve the public. So, we want to be where they are and meet them where they are, irrespective of the channel they select to communicate with us,” Martinez said.


“We’re constantly ensuring that whatever we’re developing and producing serves all audiences,” she said. “[It’s] important that we continue to embrace our omnichannel principles, where it doesn’t matter how you reach out to us, you’re going to get the same consistent information always.”


Martinez also acknowledged that as a government agency, GSA does not get to pick and choose the people it interacts with; therefore, digital capability varies widely among its customers. 


To reach the public directly, GSA has used public engagement campaigns to make government offerings easy to understand. The outreach team continues to support public engagement campaigns to reach more people, Martinez said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.