Service NSW, launched in July 2013 and incubated for its first year within the Department of Premier and Cabinet, is now a separate business unit within the newly formed Treasury and Finance Cluster.
The agency received no ‘new initiative’ funding in the 2013-14 Budget for its pilot phase. Intermedium understands its costs were instead met from within existing appropriations.
However, its treatment in the 2014-15 budget (the last before the upcoming NSW election) has been very different. Following on from its first year successes, Service NSW has received a total of $97.7 million in new ICT funding, across a range of technology needs.
As such, it is one of the largest potentially addressable set of ICT projects not just in NSW, but in any Australian jurisdiction.
Service NSW has been either unwilling or unable to indicate to Intermedium the procurement approach it will take for these projects.
When asked whether Service NSW would be going to the open market for the provision of the technology and services which received 2014-15 funding, Service NSW was unable to give a specific response, instead referring Intermedium to general government procurement guidelines.
“To engage future suppliers, we will follow the appropriate procurement process aligned to Government ICT guidelines,” the Service NSW spokesperson told Intermedium.
“Service NSW has engaged a range of technology suppliers including Salesforce and Microsoft to help us improve the way we provide Government transactions to our customers. We are now building on the learning of the initial rollout of Service NSW to further improve the way we deliver customer services,” the spokesperson continued.
Intermediumunderstands that the suppliers involved in the pilot were procured via the NSW Government’s ICT Services Scheme rather than an open Approach to the Market, leaving many aspirant suppliers disappointed that they had not been invited to respond as part of the ICT Services catalogue process. Many were therefore left hoping that the rollout would be supported by a full Approach to the Market.
Contributing to the opaqueness of the process thus far, the contracts relating to the initial pilot have not been published on the NSW tendering site.
Among Service NSW’s new features to be released by the end of 2014 are self-serve kiosks, a mobile application, and LiveChat.
The 2014-15 Budget allocated $324 million to Service NSW, reflecting its priority status for the NSW Government, as a cornerstone of the NSW 2021 State Plan. It is therefore also detailed in the NSW ICT Strategy. The Budget allocation includes a $190.5 million transfer from Roads and Maritime, and $87.2 million for capital works for the expansion of digital services and the one-stop service centre network.
- $33.9 million for customer service system integration;
- $19 million for Service NSW’s digital channel enhancements;
- $21.1 for network technology;
- $15.2 million for a new payments gateway; and
- $8.5 million for technology upgrades to support scale and operation.
The agency has received approval (and budget funding) to increase the number of digital transactions available to the public over the next two years.
In addition to opening another 8 ‘one-stop shops’ to complement the existing 18 service centres, Service NSW will trial other innovative smart stores and kiosks in the coming year.
Minister for Finance and Services, Dominic Perrottet, said planning is underway to build on the Service NSW digital service by putting more transactions online and introducing new initiatives such as LiveChat to save time and allow customers to use mobile or portable devices on the website.
A spokesperson for Service NSW told Intermedium, “The self-serve kiosk, app and LiveChat are due to be released towards the end of 2014.”
The new initiatives are intended to address the likelihood of online transactions increasing by at least 75 per cent over the decade. At present, over 30% of visitors to the Service NSW website have used a mobile or tablet device.
Premier Mike Baird said the upcoming changes would “expand on our digital services, building on what we have already achieved with birth certificates and seniors’ cards where customers are able to apply directly online without printing any forms.”
Among the changes anticipated is the conversion of the current motor registry (Roads and Maritime Services) network into additional Service NSW shops.
Minister Perrottet said this will improve customer coverage by approximately 20%, compared to the current motor registry network.
ServiceNSW is also looking to control risks associated with the NSW Government’s investment in its ICT infrastructure. “Service NSW employs stringent governance arrangements which include project controls and expert steering groups, determined by the project scope and needs,” the agency spokesperson said.
Since its launch in July 2013, over 3.5 million customers have been served by Service NSW, which has achieved a customer satisfaction score of 98 per cent that has been unchanged since its launch. Customers are able to access more than 850 transactions through Service NSW, including ones supporting driver licences, vehicle registrations, birth, death and marriage certificates, and seniors’ card applications.
Prior to Service NSW’s launch, the NSW Government handled approximately 40 million customer transactions a year through nearly 400 shopfronts, 30 call centres, 800 websites, and more than 8,000 phone numbers.