Smartphones, Remote Access Key to Federal Productivity

Sixty-five percent of respondents say they don’t know if their agency has a documented digital strategy that is currently being implemented.

federal it and smartphones

Federal leaders believe the government is reaping benefits from having adopted technology, and that technology helps agencies achieve their missions, according to a report from the National Academy of Public Administration and ICF International.

However, the survey of 510 senior federal civil servants suggested there are concerns that the government cannot keep pace either in procuring rapidly changing digital technology or with the private sector’s use of it.

An overwhelming majority across all demographics (93 percent) embraces digital technology in the workplace, reporting that it has improved productivity and helps serve agency stakeholders (88 percent).

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents use an agency-issued smartphone, and 46 percent use a similar personal device for business purposes. However, 65 percent said they don’t know if their agency has a documented digital strategy that is currently being implemented. In addition, nearly 75 percent of respondents (and 52 percent of senior executive service-level respondents) with no influence on technology procurement do not know if their agency has a documented digital strategy.

Fifty-three percent of all respondents who do influence procurement were aware of their agency’s digital strategy, and about half (53 percent) reported that their agency does a good job considering digital technology in strategic planning and execution.

However, many federal leaders are unaware of whether their agencies are measuring progress against goals, with 66 percent stating they do not know if their agency is satisfied with the return on investment to date in digital technology, and more than half (56 percent) are not aware whether their agency measures it.

A third of respondents said they do not know if stakeholders are satisfied with the way their agency engages them digitally, and 35 percent of respondents do not believe their agency does.

In terms of their impact on improving workplace performance or efficiency, secure remote access to work systems topped the list, while agency-issued smartphones came in a close second with nearly 66 percent. Workplace instant messaging, agency-issued tablets and personally owned smartphones and computers were also found to be helpful.

The vast majority (76 percent) of federal leaders reported that they are adequately trained to take advantage of digital technologies in the workplace, but only 36 percent believe their agency’s employees are adequately trained.

Respondents were roughly evenly split as to technology’s impact on their work/life integration and balance—37 percent said technology improved it, 35 percent responded that technology harmed work-life integration and balance, and 27 percent remained indifferent.

Seven in 10 said they believe digital technology has improved access to training relevant to agency mission.

A larger percentage (77 percent) of respondents who influence procurement agreed with this statement, as well as 65 percent who did not influence procurement.

Only one-third of federal leaders say their agency’s adoption of digital technology has had a positive impact on recruiting and retention, and less than a quarter see their agency’s adoption of digital technology as a recruiting and retention competitive advantage.

More than eight in 10 (82 percent) of those surveyed said job-related online information and transaction services should be available at any time and on any device.

However, just over four in 10 (42 percent) said they believe their agency dedicates appropriate resources to leverage digital technology as effectively as possible.

In addition, nearly three-quarters said they would be more productive if their agency invested more in technology to improve access to information, and 64 percent said their agency effectively uses digital technology to engage employees.