Digital Transformation of Government Service Delivery

By Stephen Lees

The current Government models for electronic service delivery are typically Government centric, eg ‘One Stop Shop’. This represents Government trying to provide a single electronic entry point for Government services aggregating the multiplicity of Government agencies, brands and products. This is a step on the pathway towards reducing the cost to Government and providing a single entry point for consumers.

But what problem are we trying to solve? If the problem was the difficulty of discovering where the Government service was available then perhaps the alignment with a central service point has the potential to reduce burden.

I would suggest that in Australia the local, State and Federal Governments have a confusing abundance of service offerings that may intersect, overlap or miss the specific client situation. In addition, each level of Government will define its service offering with a name, brand and language that may be meaningful in the context of Government but typically is not very intuitive or may use similar language to other agencies for an entirely different service.

In addition, there will be repetitive information capture typically form filling (either electronic or paper) that will likely require at least some elements in common (name, address, contact details is the likely minimum). This repetition tends to frustrate the client, reduce the accuracy of the data collected and impose additional burden on Government entities who often share information where the legislation allows it.

The problem for citizens and business is rarely the same as the problem for Government, typically it will be a task that must be completed and the preferred approach will be to complete it quickly with maximum confidence and minimum effort. The distinction between the responsibilities of each layer of Government are typically regarded as additional complexity and this is especially true when it is difficult to understand language, terms, conditions, rules and regulations.

Service Expectations

Digital Transformation changes service expectations from the traditional form filling, paper lodgement and written response to a more contemporary method. The pace of contemporary society makes attending a mandated location, waiting in a queue and committing even modest amounts of time a very undesirable experience.

Digital Transformation that simply replicates the paper processes with digital equivalents does not meet contemporary expectations. Government has tried this approach (eGovernment) and it has provided some benefits but it is far from the nirvana that was anticipated.

Governments ability to build compelling digital experience has been very mixed - why is this?

  • Government understands Government not citizens or business;
  • Government is driven to efficient delivery of Government services by efficiency dividends and risk averse practises; and
  • Government has no compelling measures for citizen or business outcomes.

I suggest that Government is not well placed to deliver contemporary expressions of digital services, e.g. websites and applications.

I believe Government should concentrate of wholesale services (web services) and only provide retail expressions of wholesale services where there is no commercial opportunity or where there is a compelling social reason to provide a retail offering such as disadvantage of lack of commercial opportunity.

I believe that this practice should be instituted in a 'Marketplace for Government services' that provides the means to moderate between retail and wholesale offering.

Stephen Lees is an Enterprise Architect at the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.