BY: ELEONORA FRANCICA | 01/17/2023 05:01 AM EST
ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to improve New Yorkers’ ability to access services and communicate with state agencies.
In her State of the State address last week, Hochul laid out a series of proposals that would boost government functions, including better online tools to get childcare benefits and tax credits.
The new changes would be overseen by the appointment of a “chief customer experience officer” that would look to improve the relationship between state agencies and New Yorkers.
“By eliminating bureaucratic hurdles, simplifying processes, and utilizing new technology, we will vastly improve the way New Yorkers access services and benefits from State agencies,” Hochul said.
As an acknowledgment of New Yorkers’ struggles when applying for services and benefits — which was amplified in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic when the unemployment system was overwhelmed — the governor said she intends to implement a technological transformation in state government.
The plan includes modernizing state agency websites, applications and online transactions by increasing the number of user researchers, designers, and digital professionals. The aim is to make the websites more user-friendly and understandable.
Because of the demanding and lengthy application process, Hochul’s State of the State book reported that only about six percent of children whose families meet income requirements received childcare assistance in 2021. The plan proposes to ease the application process and shorten processing times by standardizing eligibility criteria and benefits across New York’s counties and launching a statewide electronic solution.
Similarly, Hochul proposed collecting user feedback through surveys and live chats aimed at improving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Out of the families eligible for the program, only half applied, and those enrolled did not fully use their benefits, Hochul said.
The upgrades also focus on the Department of Taxation and Finance, which, according to the plan, would allow taxpayers to upload into the system the documentation through their mobile devices, reducing the use of paper checks and saving time and costs for filing taxes.
Also, the governor said she would look to add electronic signature technology and launch “One ID,” a single login, to improve digital access to the state agencies online. The e-signature measure is expected to be available for New Yorkers in a select group of agencies by the end of 2023.