Highlights from the 2018 federal digital trends report

Jul 24, 2018

Results show that federal agencies face an uphill battle—but not an impossible one.

What does digital transformation mean for government agencies? And how can they achieve it in the context of the unique challenges they face?

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Download the Report | 2018 Federal Digital Trends

We asked 500 federal leaders to identify the biggest obstacles they're facing, from tech adoption to citizen engagement. Learn what they said.


This kind of sea change is no longer a luxury, but a critical component for increasing efficiencies, reducing costs, and achieving mission success across the public sector. Although most agree with the need for digital transformation, many just aren’t sure how to start.

To dig a little deeper into these dynamics, ICF recently partnered with Wakefield Research to develop a new report: 2018 Federal Digital Trends.

Read on for an overview and highlights from the report.

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About the report

Digitization is no longer a luxury, but a critical component for increasing efficiencies, reducing costs, and achieving mission success across the public sector.

We conducted this study because we wanted to gain a better understanding of how digital transformation is being received within government agencies—and explore the experience from the perspectives of those who live it every day. Using an email invitation and an online survey, Wakefield Research conducted the study among 500 federal full-time employees, with 250 employees at levels GS-9 through GS-12 and 250 program level directors GS-13 or higher.

Key findings

Overall, findings from the report indicate that not much has changed over the years when it comes to digital transformation in government. That’s not to diminish the great work being done within agencies that have started a transition into the digital age. But for many, there is still a significant struggle in terms of knowing how to start.

Over 90% of respondents agreed that improving usability of technology should be prioritized over technology development.

Consider some of the feedback from respondents:

  • 92%—agreed their agency needs to spend more time improving the usability of technology.
  • 80%—believed that their agency would prioritize perfecting the technology over the citizen experience.
  • 88%—agreed that federal security and privacy requirements significantly delay technological innovation.
  • 91%—said that the federal IT procurement process needs to be overhauled.

The feedback we received also pointed to significant challenges in terms of defining mission success and maintaining an effective focus to achieve it. With a variety of unique issues to deal with—such as navigating the political landscape, meeting regulatory requirements, and maintaining stability when a new administration takes office—federal agencies often find it difficult to maintain momentum in their digital transformation efforts.

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  • Cybersecurity
  • Digital transformation
  • Public sector
  • Technology
  • Workforce