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Digital access / Municipal government / Tech jobs / Web development

Gov. Shapiro will be hiring a tech team for the new Office of Digital Experience

The office aims to make accessing the state's digital services easier. "This is Pennsylvania's tech startup, and we're looking for the best and the brightest to bring these innovations to life," the governor said.

Gov. Josh Shapiro announcing the Office of Digital Experience on April 25, 2023. (Screenshot via live press conference)

Nowadays, more and more Pennsylvanians are logging onto state web portals to do the things that have traditionally been done in person in government offices — renewing their vehicle registrations, starting a new business or making a reservation through the state’s park system.

Residents’ increasingly online presence is why Gov. Josh Shapiro announced he’d established the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience (CODE PA) via executive order on Tuesday. At a press conference, he said the new office was part of a broader aim to make filing permits, applications and other state forms easier. In January, Shapiro also signed an executive order to streamline state government’s licensing, permitting and certification processes.

“We expect to be able to accomplish almost anything in government on our smartphones. And we expect that we can do anything online that we could do if we simply walked into a building,” Shapiro said during Tuesday’s press conference. “And that needs to be true of our Commonwealth’s digital services, too.”

The keep services accessible for people who still want or need paper copies of forms and applications, it will still be possible to mail in documentation. But a majority of services are being accessed online, the governor said.

“We all have certain expectations when we go online nowadays — we expect websites to be easy to navigate, and easy for staff to administer, we expect applications to be very quick to complete,” Shapiro said. “We expect it to be in a language that we’re able to understand.”

Last year, more than 5.8 million people accessed PennDOT’s website, more than 250,000 people made reservations through the state Parks and Forests website, and 55,000 Pennsylvanians completed the online form through to start a new business. Half a million people have also filed their taxes online just in 2023, per a state press release.

CODE PA will also work toward making it easier for residents to access state and federal benefits, Shapiro said.

Bryanna Pardoe, formerly the director of web and digital experience at Philly-area Main Line Health, was named as the office’s executive director. Shapiro said the office will be hiring for various tech-related roles before May 10, and a college degree will not be required for these roles. Pardoe said her goal for the team is simple — “I want to help make digital experiences easy for every Pennsylvanian and I want to make it the best in the country.”

The team behind CODE PA will develop the digital products used by residents and update existing services over the next year. It’ll be hiring six top positions with titles like head of user experience and head of quality, analytics, and infrastructure. Others making up the team will include developers, data scientists and QA engineers.

“CODE PA is cutting edge,” the governor said during the press conference. “This is Pennsylvania’s tech startup, and we’re looking for the best and the brightest to bring these innovations to life.”

Companies: State of Pennsylvania

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