Agencies Get Smart About Apps: Q&A With John Kamensky

Monday, May 2, 2016

Using Mobile Apps in Government, a new report for the IBM Center,  documents the state of mobile apps at the federal, state, and local levels. Specifically, the report notes that apps have evolved in two ways:

  • enterprise-focused apps that public employees use to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively
  • citizen-focused apps that offer access to public services and opportunities for engagement. 

Jon Wolper, a writer and editor for TPM, interviewed John Kamensky of the IBM Center for The Business of Government about how the government is using mobile apps to improve efficiency and interact with citizens. For example, citizens can use apps to check books out of the library, pay for parking, or notify local officials about potholes. Meanwhile, government agencies are using apps internally to manage car fleets, track down experts or points of contact, and deliver field reports. 


Kamensky tells Wolper that the report finds that apps run the gamut—in purpose, content, and quality. Consequently, Using Mobile Apps in Government recommends the adoption of a mobile-first strategy when developing new ways to interact with services. Internally, for instance, this applies to services like filling out time cards or ordering supplies. “The challenge at the local, state, and federal level,” says Kamensy, “is being able to tie a new app to an existing back system.” 

Another issue is knowing when to apply the brakes to app development. The popularity of apps in the private sector is driving some agencies to want to make apps for everything. According to Kamensky, leaders need to think strategically about development and consider usefulness and frequency. “It might not make sense to create an app for something infrequent like filing for social security claim, something that is done only once a lifetime,” he says. 

Listen to the full podcast interview for more about app development at the local and federal level; you can also check out Kamensky’s article, “Government With an ‘App-titude.’” This article and more appear in the April issue of The Public Manager, available on the TPM website and in the ATD Publications app. If you’re not already a subscriber, subscribe now.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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