The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) is a cornerstone of the 2012 Digital Government Strategy’s mission to improve the citizen experience by streamlining the collection and analysis of digital analytics data on a federal government-wide scale. The DAP, provided by GSA to all federal executive branch agencies, delivers digital analytics tools (like Web analytics and customer satisfaction survey tools), performance metrics guidance, metrics benchmarks, and training, all at no cost.
Common Set of Digital Metrics Gov-Wide
The DAP’s customized Web analytics solution provides federal employees access to a common set of web metrics like pageviews, unique users, mobile vs. desktop visits, average time on page, bounce rate, number of downloads, etc. as well as dimensions like location, browser, and operating system of visitors.
Currently, the DAP is used by more than 3,800 government websites that belong to 37 agencies. These websites get 1.5+ billion page views each month. In just over two years, the DAP has grown to become the largest Google Analytics Premium account in the world.
The tool’s most unique feature is that online traffic data for all participating government websites, including a “government-wide” rollup, is available to each DAP user. This allows web managers to identify and learn from successful websites, collaborate to streamline duplicate content, and have a broad perspective to make metrics-based website decisions. The DAP Web analytics tool not only provides cost savings, but it is also the only program that can give agency stakeholders perspective into the way people interact with government websites on such a massive scale.
Along those lines, the DAP is expanding to offer “voice of the customer” data via customer satisfaction surveys and is implementing it into the user interface of the DAP Web analytics tool. This will, in effect, allow for the convergence of quantitative and qualitative customer data, propelling the capabilities of the program even further. This feature, currently in the pilot stage, will also be offered to all agencies at no cost.
The Web analytics tool and any other tools to be offered in the future by the DAP meet strict security guidelines. The code has undergone multiple security scans, no personally identifiable information is collected, and IP addresses are anonymized.
The DAP demonstrates a leap in creativity in both its tools and methodology. Agencies are afforded top-of-the-line, constantly updated, trusted, and secure platforms and tools. But, more importantly, the idea of using centralized accounts to collect data for the entire government shows a momentous shift in the culture surrounding the digital world and metrics. Where previously, digital analytics were run on an ad-hoc basis by web teams using various different tools, the DAP is now creating a simple, powerful, and consistent glimpse into a drastically larger sample of citizens’ interactions.
Collaborative and Helpful
The DAP leverages various collaboration and engagement activities to continuously improve. Firstly, the program has inherent stakeholders in 1500+ DAP users (and growing every day) across government. Via the DAP listserv community, a Yammer group, and a designated DAP customer inbox, the program users discuss data analysis tips, new features, technical issues, and troubleshooting.
The DAP team receives hundreds of monthly helpdesk requests from current and prospective customers. With a small team of three, the team provides on-going assistance with tool implementation, troubleshooting issues, analytical guidance and reporting support. Additionally, the team offers quarterly in-person training sessions and webinars to help users drill for data as well as to take note of the most common pain points. As part of the Digital Government Division at GSA, the DAP also asks users to complete a yearly customer experience survey, and the feedback is transformed into actionable plans for the next year. It goes without saying that without the active participation and engagement of the dedicated points of contact across government, the program would not be able to offer the expansive view of government websites that it does.
Efficient and Effective
Efficiency and effectiveness are the pinnacles of the DAP’s value to government. As a shared government service, the Web analytics tool saves agencies in the area of $150,000 for every advanced Web analytics solution that no longer needs to be implemented. As the program expands to offer solutions like the Customer Satisfaction Survey Tool, the cost savings will continue to increase. In the past, it was common that individual website teams would employ a Web analytics tool, nonetheless at the level of a sub-agency or agency. The DAP eliminates the need for any team or agency to purchase an analytics solution. In some cases, entire agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Park Service, have already removed legacy analytics tools and moved to use the DAP Web analytics tool exclusively because of its quality and cost-savings. Digital analytics solutions are an undeniably important facet of customer experience, and the DAP offers the most robust set of analytics data the government has to offer.
Scalable and Transferable
The DAP provides a model for scalability and transferability that is unmatched. By procuring top-of-the-line solutions and structuring the implementations so they can be shared by all of government, the program has created a synergy of cost savings and improved innovation. The aggregate data collected by the DAP is so much greater than the sum of its participating agency parts, being that it allows a glimpse into the public’s interaction with a huge swath of government websites. In a sense, it is a public service for the public service, and the team hopes that this model will be aggressively adopted for other IT solutions as well.