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If you want to come to City Hall to do business with us, we’ll be here for you. But if you have to come to City Hall to do business with us, then we’re not doing our job. - Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston.gov

What are digital services?

The City of Austin provides an extensive range of services — from health screenings, to renter’s assistance, to snorkeling classes — designed to help residents thrive. Currently, however, many of those services are buried in the 12,000 pages of the City’s website, and others have yet to be made available online.

These services are what what draw people to Austintexas.gov, but they’re very difficult to find. A pregnant woman looking for nutritional support may not realize that “WIC” stands for Women, Infants and Children — especially if she doesn’t know English! The use of such department-oriented language, rather than service-oriented language, is a major factor preventing residents from accessing the City services they need online — one we’re undertaking to solve in the City Services Workflow project.

Meanwhile, many services simply aren’t online, requiring residents and business owners to visit a City office in person. Digitizing these services will require an array of applications — event registration, online payments, chat support, and, especially fundamental, digital forms. When we build or procure the tools we need these functionalities, we need to consider open source tools, avoid vendor lock-in, and, critically, understand the way they will fit into a modernized technical architecture. We’re identifying and documenting these important strategies and standards by tackling the implementation of digital forms in our Forms as a Shared Microservice project.