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Federal Leaders Share Views on Digital Technology

In 2014 and again in 2015, the National Academy of Public Administration and ICF International asked federal leaders how their agencies are responding to rising expectation for “anytime, anywhere, any device access to information and services.”

Three Key Federal Leaders Digital Insight Study Findings

1. The vast majority of federal leaders recognize the value of digital technology to increase productivity, make agencies more effective, and help better serve stakeholders.

People engaging in digital technology

68% report use of digital technology to effectively engage stakeholders—a 13% increase from 2014.

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87% want greater access to digital technology for improved productivity—a 14% increase over 2014.

2. Agencies are making meaningful progress, but federal leaders fear they are falling behind rising stakeholder expectations and the pace set by the private sector.

Smartphone with graph pointing up

81% believe that stakeholders will increasingly demand digital engagement—a 6% increase from 2014.

Various electronic devices

Only 39% feel their agency is keeping pace with stakeholders’ expectations for anytime, anywhere access to information.

3. Instead of taking full advantage of digital technology to re-imagine workflow, federal leaders believe agencies emphasize automating existing processes.


81% believe their agency primarily invests in digital technology to either automate workflow or to explore how to do so.

gears working together

Only 7% believe their agency invests in digital technology to completely re-imagine existing processes.

Four Select Recommendations from Our Expert Panel

1. Create an Innovation Playbook that targets mission/program offices and drives the acceleration of existing efforts—such as innovation labs—and the re-imagination of business processes.

People with light bulb

Only 3% believe their agency are reimagining their business process to better engage stakeholders.

2. Identify real and perceived privacy and security barriers to digital adoption and devise strategies to overcome those barriers.

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53% of respondents indicated that security/privacy concerns were a significant barrier to implementing digital technology.

“I appreciate the need for data security, but it is ridiculous and embarrassing that we cannot use up-to-date programs and software.”

—comment from survey respondent

3. Create a playbook to provide agencies advice and best practices to hire and retain digital talent and ensure needed skills to execute digital projects.

Presenter presenting to audience

56% of federal leaders do not believe agency employees receive adequate training on new digital technologies.

“Lack of employees with current digital skills” was identified as a top-5 barrier to digital adoption.

4. Better determine stakeholder satisfaction with digital initiatives to capture return on investment (ROI) and inform future efforts.

Question marks

62% don’t know or disagree that their agency measures its ROI on digital technology.

View Full Report, Survey Findings, and More

Study report cover

The Federal Leaders Digital Insight Study, conducted by the National Academy of Public Administration and ICF, examines the extent to which the federal government is adopting and applying digital technology to serve stakeholders. View the various Study components: