Making an Impact Profile: Robert Knapp

Championing digital excellence in public services

As the executive managing director of state and local digital government solutions at Maximus, Robert Knapp is spearheading our initiatives to revolutionize how people interact with government and access public services. People expect a seamless experience across all touchpoints, from mobile apps to websites. By leveraging technology-enabled engagement strategies, state governments can create a unified and accessible experience for everyone.

With a long career deeply rooted in driving digital transformation and modernizing programs for the public sector, Robert's leadership at Maximus focuses on delivering innovative technology and solutions that foster a better customer experience. He draws on his two decades of experience in improving community wellbeing through technology for state governments, including work in Indiana and Kansas.

Robert Knapp

It's about using technology not just for its own sake, but to serve the community and genuinely make things easier or better for people.

Robert Knapp

Executive Managing Director, Digital Government Solutions

At the heart of Robert’s work is a commitment to making government services more accessible and efficient, enabling seamless interaction between people and their government. We sat down with Robert to learn more about what led him to Maximus and his thoughts about the future of digital government services.

Bringing Commercial Practices to the Public Sector

After receiving a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Tulsa, Robert began his career in the financial services industry at a time of early innovation in online banking. He then moved to a digital services firm that solely served state and local governments, filled a critical leadership gap, and led teams that developed digital services and solutions for their state clients. For nearly 20 years, he focused on people-to-government interactions, building off the idea that states wanted to engage with citizens more effectively — and improving communities along the way. By prioritizing the people who were using government services, he helped shape a market that bridges the gap between government and customer experience. A continued desire to impact public service through technology inspired Robert's move to Maximus.

Can you share a moment in your career that profoundly impacted you?

Early in my career, I worked on a project that focused on improving the delivery of digital services for entrepreneurs trying to start a business. These future business owners shared that the maze of government agencies and requirements was overwhelming. My team was able to provide a one-stop location for entrepreneurs to engage digitally with their state government and fulfill their dreams of starting their own business. Shortly after we launched these services, we received feedback from a recently out-of-work mother who shared how the new service greatly improved her ability to access the resources needed to open her own retail coffee shop. It was a poignant reminder of the real reason behind our work — to serve and uplift members of our communities.

How do you envision the future of citizen engagement with government services?

I see a time in the near future where interacting with government services will be as easy as checking the weather on your phone. We're moving toward a world where technology-enabled government services will be proactively tailored to each person's needs and provide easy and efficient access to the information they seek, much like the app that shares your local weather conditions. This vision includes a seamless, omnichannel experience that meets the evolving expectations of all people, driven by technological advancements and an ongoing commitment to accessibility. The right digital solutions, including those enhanced by artificial intelligence, can help make people see the government as a partner in their daily lives rather than a hurdle to overcome.

AI Can Drive Better Customer Experience

Robert believes technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models will revolutionize how people interact with government — transforming government websites and portals with interactive, personalized chat-based interfaces for better service delivery.

He explains, “State residents already use AI-powered chatbots to improve their customer experience. It gives them an easy way to ask a question or request assistance with logins or passwords, then quickly be directed to the correct information. This interfacing in a human-centric way is consistent with how many people want to engage with their government: quickly, seamlessly, and at any time of day.” 

As chatbots handle both simple and complex customer inquiries, they can also refer certain inquiries over to live agents ready to deliver quality customer service. Robert and his team view using AI to improve service delivery thoughtfully and responsibly — considering opportunities to drive better customer experience and augment what humans do best.

What drives your passion for technology and public service?

My passion stems from seeing the real-world impact of our work. When I see a service or a technology solution come to life and genuinely make things easier or better for people, it's incredibly rewarding. For me, it's about using technology not just for its own sake but to serve the community and improve lives. For example, our digital solutions team is helping a state that needs a comprehensive, digitally accessible website. This philosophy around ease of use and meeting accessibility requirements is built into our work. And as accessibility screening and remediation technology improves and requirements are expanded, we get to improve upon what we’ve already been doing for years: help make government information accessible to everyone, regardless of ability.

What advice would you give young professionals with an interest in technology and public service?

Be patient and persistent. Working at the intersection of technology and the public sector means knowing how to navigate bureaucracies and regulatory landscapes that might be different from what you experience in the private sector. However, the impact of what you produce can be monumental. If you keep your focus on the communities being served by the government, you’ll find so much purpose in the innovations and solutions you bring to your work.