Would a tech upgrade make the New Jersey government more user-friendly?



An app that would allow New Jersey residents easy access to state government services, a student loan cancellation program for tech-related careers, and high-speed internet access throughout the state are just some of the things to do. ‘part of the future that a governor’s transition committee envisions for New Jersey.

The Governmental Advisory Committee on the Transition of Technologies and Innovations report to Governor Phil Murphy makes 16 recommendations ranging from improving public access to the Internet and government services to improving New Jersey’s technological reputation. Many are following through on the governor’s campaign promises – Murphy called it “reclaiming the innovation economy.” He has already started to implement a recommendation, to maintain net neutrality in the state. But some of the suggestions can be costly, especially given Murphy’s already ambitious and expensive schedule.

For example, the report’s very first recommendation is to upgrade the state’s information technology within six months, saying this “should be a top priority.” The state’s Office of Information Technology currently provides all IT services to the executive, has a budget of $ 158 million and employs 629 people, according to his website.

“New Jersey’s government infrastructure is severely outdated and the state is struggling to coordinate services with city and county governments,” the report says. “Although the state has recently attempted to switch some applications to public cloud technology, many of its applications still use mainframe storage and processing. Meanwhile, many other states, including Utah, Illinois and Ohio, have adopted a cloud-centric strategy … This administration should immediately assess its key bottlenecks and vulnerabilities, and determine its strategy for modernize the material systems of the State.

Evaluate the Christie Plan

Before stepping down, Governor Chris Christie signed an executive order to centralize government information technology, decentralize software and modernize legacy systems. The report urges Murphy to act quickly, within the first 100 days, to assess how well the centralization plan is working and whether to continue it.

While upgrading state government technology is likely to be expensive, it is overdue. New Jersey earned a C + in the most recent Digital States Survey, by the Center for Digital Government, in 2016. It was lower than the 2014 rating of B-. It’s also a lower rating than that received by all but four states – Alaska, Rhode Island, Wyoming, and Kansas.
The report suggests that New Jersey is looking to Utah, which scored an A in that survey, to improve electronic government services for residents. Such improvement should be a top priority, as it is essential to “improve accountability and efficiency,” the report says.

New Jersey is expected to create an “e-government strategic plan” and hire a director to make the state’s online services “world class.” As part of these changes, state agencies should allow people to conduct online transactions that they can now only do in person or by mail, for example by renewing a driver’s license. The state should also create a user-friendly mobile application that allows the public to both obtain information from various state agencies and report issues.

Fluid, accessible, secure

“With the state lagging behind in national eGovernment assessments, the governor should prioritize improving state offerings and view our residents as clients as part of their engagement with citizens. state agencies, ”the report says. “Interactions between residents, businesses and government need to be fluid, accessible and secure. The state should use an “out-of-in” approach to service delivery by adopting the resident’s perspective, rather than that of the agency, when designing delivery media. “

The report points out that the savings from e-government may ultimately exceed the upfront costs, saying a study found that the expansion of e-services in Utah saved that state $ 46 million out of five. years, each online transaction costing an average of $ 13.20 less than it costs to do the same. business in person or by mail. One way to pay for e-government, the report suggests, would be to charge “modest user fees for certain transactions.”

Other ways to help make state government more user-friendly would be to integrate the more than 100 free numbers the state operates, many of them during office hours only, into the NJ 211 service, a partnership public-private sector that provides New Jersey residents with access to a variety of services around the clock. This has the potential to both save money and improve service to the public, which the new administration should study, according to the report.

The report also recommends that the state do more to make data available, including a review of the 2016 New Jersey Open Data Initiative to ensure it is making data available and accessible. Specifically, he urges Murphy to ask the new state treasurer to release financial data in a format “more accessible” to residents.

More transparent

“As the new administration has prioritized transparency, better access to information would allow residents and organizations to monitor government operations and, in turn, hold ministries and agencies accountable,” the report said. report. “By publishing data in a more user-friendly format, a state can support outside responses to hard-hitting decisions. The New Jersey Open Data Initiative was enacted in 2016 to refine the state’s data capabilities. The incoming administration should consider whether and how it wishes to continue the current strategy, leaving open the possibility of broadening the scope to include information on the performance of education and workforce development programs.

Broadband internet access for all is another ambitious recommendation in the report, which indicates that around 21 percent of residents did not have broadband access last year. He suggests that the state follow the lead of Massachusetts and New York to build a fiber-optic cable network and provide grants to Internet service providers that provide broadband access to underserved areas.

“High-speed internet access is now a prerequisite for participating in our increasingly connected economy,” the report says. “New Jersey has significant gaps in broadband access… Sussex and Warren counties, as well as many parts of southern Jersey, have the most residents without broadband access. Low-income state residents in our cities are also disproportionately disconnected. As the most densely populated state in the country, New Jersey is expected to provide all of its residents with broadband access.

High speed internet for all

The report says that everyone in New Jersey should be able to get Internet service that does not discriminate against certain sites; and he urges the state to ensure that the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to end net neutrality in December does not affect people who surf the web here. This is something Murphy has acted upon before, signing an executive order requiring all ISPs doing business in the state to follow the principles of net neutrality, which means all web traffic is treated equally. (The state also joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging the FCC repeal.)

The sweeping report makes recommendations beyond the publicly available data and looks at areas designed to boost technology commerce in the state, or, as Murphy has often said during his campaign , “Launch the innovation economy”.

The current initiatives “are complex and many investors are not participating due to the heavy red tape and low incentives,” the report says.

He suggests three ways to attract more investment. One would be to create an incentive program targeting high-tech companies that start up or move to New Jersey so that founders and employees do not pay capital gains taxes on a public offering. or an acquisition. Another would be to increase the angel tax credit from 10% to 25% for those who invest in emerging technology companies with at least three-quarters of the employees in New Jersey. The third would offer start-ups discounts on their payroll taxes based on their research and development spending.

Other suggestions include:

  • Strengthen collaboration between colleges, universities and businesses by helping connect entrepreneurs with research institutes and helping schools negotiate licensing agreements, identify new inventions and obtain patents.
  • Build tech incubators where innovators can start their businesses in vacant government-owned offices, with every county having at least one such incubator by mid-2019.
  • Establish a student loan forgiveness program for students in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Colleges support but need more help

    Colleges across the state support the goals of the transition report and look forward to continuing to work on it, but schools will need additional support to address these challenges, said Pam Hersh, spokesperson for the NJ Association of State Colleges and Universities. .

    “Many of our schools have used the Building Our Future higher education bond money to build state-of-the-art STEM facilities, but the 2012 bond program was the first for higher education in 25 years,” he said. she declared. “And successful STEM programs also require operational support – and operational support to public institutions has declined dramatically over the past 25 years… and that requires a rational, holistic approach to credits.


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