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The US Government Chose Insights

How Can We Make The Process of Issuing Passports Better?

Tzlil Vaserman
Tzlil Vaserman
December 6, 2020

Ideas and voting websites are a great thing, but in order to produce the best and achieve actual results – one needs strategic insights. That is why the US government chose Insights.US.

usagov insights website
The US State Departments Consultancy Website

The Real Challenge of Government Offices and Local Authorities

The American government is faced with the same challenges we meet in Germany, Israel and Austria – A lack in public trust in the system, an impossible bureaucracy and a vanishing ability to lead change. On his firsts day in office, Obama signed the “Transparent, Inclusive and Open Government” protocol. Following which the government created “ideas and voting websites.”

But then came up a problem. During the first big process, the public “recommended” to allow the use of marijuana in order to promote an open government. The will to create an inclusive and wide process was good and just, but quickly the ideas and voting websites turned into a burden. It was just not working.

How Do You Make Decision in The Biggest Administration in the World?

To us, in Insights.US, it was clear that floating ideas was not enough, it is important to turn them into strategic insights that will allow us to understand reality and to engage change. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work.   

Governments don't need another list of ideas after which you vote like “American Idol”, but technology which allows you to receive only the bottom line and to send a personal response to each participant with an update about their influence. 

Building a Process: What Do You Ask, and Who?

As described in the blog post of USAgov, with Insights, everyone can plan their own decision-making process. At the end of the day, in every process of this kind, it's important to define what you are asking, who and how. The passports department defined the future they wanted to see: A fast service experience, less confusing and effortless.

The Question: The citizen’s experience was defined as the central issue of the desired change. The government asked how can you make the experience faster, easier and less confusing.

Background: Each year 20 million passports are issued. The government has a monopoly on the issuing of passports, with no competitors. That’s why it has a bigger responsibility to upgrade the citizen’s experience.

Channels: A “popup” website was integrated into the USA.GOV main websites, 5 tweets were put up in accounts that reached millions of people, and emails were sent to mailing lists.

Beginning the Process

In the beginning of December, the process was hitting the road. The participants did analytical assignments and central insights were taken from the broad knowledge collected. In two weeks thousands of replies were collected, as in parallel, the processing stage started. The US State Department was already preparing for the changes that were expected and was interested in getting the insights and starting the change process.

usagov twitter account
State Department's Twitter Account

What Can Israel Learn From This?

You can’t avoid the comparison to Israel. Here are a few Insights we reached:

The organizations we worked with believed citizens have knowledge that is worth integrating into the decision-making process. They also wanted to create support and legitimacy. But at the end, they came to listen.
We started by helping the City Hall of Kfar Saba to promote recycling in a city of 70 thousand people. The same method brought value to the government of the United States, governing over 300 million people.
We worked with over 200 organizations, most of which had a problem reaching their community. In the government's Twitter account there are over a million followers, and in their mailing lists over hundreds of thousands. That is different.

In a few weeks the US State Department will approve the insights and based on them decisions will be made. Instead of pricey consultants, they decided to approach the people who actually know the best process for issuing a passport and integrated them in the decision-making process, and as such, made them a part of the change.

What We Are Doing with the US GovernmentTzlil Vaserman
Tzlil manages the Digital division in Insights.US. She studied Public Policy at Tel Aviv University.