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Experts Outline State’s New Path for Human-Centered Design

Panelists at the California Government Innovation Summit explained how the state is working to streamline and simplify its online services in various ways, including making its websites easier to navigate and using plain, simple language in government documents.

Lloyd Levine of T-Mobile for Government; Jeffery Marino of the state Office of Data and Innovation; and Koji Kumpulainien, the state’s web services manager in the California Department of Technology sitting at a table participating in a conference panel discussion.
From left: Panelists who spoke on human-centered design were Lloyd Levine of T-Mobile for Government; Jeffery Marino of the state Office of Data and Innovation; and Koji Kumpulainien, the state’s web services manager in the California Department of Technology.
Two technologists from state government and one from industry offered insights into human-centered design at last week’s California Government Innovation Summit in Sacramento.

During a breakout session on the concept of human-centered design (HCD), the three panelists outlined their takeaways for public-sector technologists who are looking for ways to make their offerings more widely accessible to the state’s diverse population:

  • Koji Kumpulainien is the state’s web services manager, working in the California Department of Technology. He said CDT and technologists from other state departments are working on a few initiatives in the area of HCD, beginning with winnowing down the number of state Internet domain names. From a high of more than 1,000 domain names, he and his team have cut that to a little over 700, with streamlining and consolidation ongoing. The point, Kumpulainien said, is to make it easier for Californians to navigate the state’s myriad online service offerings. He also noted that the state is working to overhaul its design guidelines to make the sites more navigable and consistent. And, he said, CDT is now offering user experience consulting to other departments in state government, to help them make their sites more user-friendly.
  • Jeffery Marino is deputy director and chief strategist in the Office of Data and Innovation, part of the California Government Operations Agency. Marino described how his interest in technology — and, specifically, data and its many uses in the private and public sectors — led him from working in industry to his leadership role in ODI. Marino said he’s focusing ODI’s work on ensuring equitable access to technology for Californians in a couple of ways. Not only is it important to include all demographic groups in the state’s outreach efforts, he said it’s also critical for government to speak with residents in a way they can understand. To that end, part of ODI’s mission is to help overhaul government technology to a “plain language standard,” whereby residents can readily understand and use the state’s online services. And finally, he said, ODI is working with CDT on generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) to “leave no one behind.”
  • Lloyd Levine, the panel’s industry participant, is a former state Assembly member who’s now the national senior executive for state government strategy with T-Mobile for Government. Levine, with the perspective of one who’s served in the public sector, cited his long interest and advocacy for all segments of California’s population, a mission that he still espouses. “California does an amazing job of creating low-income programs,” Levine said. “We have an amazing amount of empathy — the Legislature, the department leaders — in creating programs to try to help make people’s lives better. And we do an absolutely miserable job of connecting people to those programs.” Levine pointed to a T-Mobile device called CPR3 (Connecting People to Resources 3 ways) that’s customizable for different populations and locations across the U.S. For instance, for someone from another country who fled to the United States, he said, “Instead of saying, ‘Welcome to America; here’s some Internet access. Good luck,’ we say, ‘Welcome to America; here’s a phone, here’s a phone number for two to three years, and here are the resources we believe you will need to find food, to find health care, language classes, education. It’s remotely managed.”
The California Government Innovation Summit (formerly called the California Digital Government Summit) was presented Sept. 19 by Government Technology, sister publication of Industry Insider — California.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies including USA Today in Washington, D.C.