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DTO on track with six joint projects

by Justin Hendry •
Free resource

12 weeks after announcing its ambitious work programme, the Digital Transformation Office is making strides to help agencies deliver “simpler, clearer, faster public services,” but has its work cut out to meet its promise to deliver five of the six projects by May 2016.

The ‘20 weeks to better services’ programme kicked off in mid-October 2015 and involves the DTO collaborating with Federal agencies and state and territory governments on six projects. The declaration of the program coincided with the announcement of – a citizen-facing portal that allows users to find relevant government services ‘quickly and easily’. 

In the first comprehensive update since the programme was released, the DTO has revealed that three of the projects are in the discovery phase of the four stage service design and delivery process – discovery, alpha, beta and live, and one is yet to reach it.

Intermedium understands that the 20 weeks commences only when the project moves from the mobilisation phase to the discovery phase. This means the timeframe for the delivery of the public beta version of five of the six projects is May 2016, at the very latest.

The new services are not expected to be perfect, and are instead aimed to push the accountability and delivery boundaries of the public service and demonstrate how a rapid transformation of services can be achieved across government.

In a blog post, Head of Strategy and Transformation at the DTO Daniel Searle outlines the status of the projects currently being spearheaded by the Canberra and Sydney Digital Delivery Hubs – comprised of teams of policy and technical experts designed to create an environment conducive to accelerating transformation across government. 

Project 1 – Citizen Appointment booking

The citizen appointment booking service – a project between the DTO and Department of Immigration and Border Protection – has just passed its first service assessment, having met the first three criteria of the Digital Service Standard. It has now moved into the beta stage with the first publically accessible version likely to be available in March 2016.

During the discovery stage, user research helped the DTO identify several ‘pain points’ afflicting the service, with rescheduling of appointments found to be the most prominent issue. Citizen Test appointments were also found to require that individuals verify their identity in person, and remain scheduled by the Department.

“Both the Department and clients would gain time and administrative savings if clients were able to independently book or reschedule suitable appointment times online,” said Searle.

Project 2 – Importation of Goods                                                                                                                                                      

The DTO and Department of Immigration and Border Protection are also continuing their project to simplify international trade and import processes and have begun designing and testing alpha prototypes, with a beta release expected in April 2016. The discovery phase found the efficiency of the import processes were limited due to dominance of physical paper permits and restricted government agency service linkages.

Project 3 – Medicare Enrolments

Work with the Department of Human Services is currently in its discovery stage, and the DTO is now in the process of consolidating their observations from user research and working to create customer journey maps to understand how individuals proceed through the service. Public beta is expected to be released in April 2016.

“Enrolling for Medicare often requires paperwork and face-to-face time with Medicare staff. Our research found there's lots of manual handling of data that the Department already has access to.”

Project 4/5 – Planning for retirement/outpatient appointment booking

The DTO’s projects with the Queensland Government “to better inform seniors about their eligibility for a Senior’s Card and concessions” and the ACT Government to improve the central outpatient appointment booking system used by 660,000 Canberrans each year, are both now in discovery with a view to release a beta version in April and May 2016, respectively.

Initial consultations have found that Queensland residents “find it difficult to work out what they’re eligible for and entitled to” and that the majority of the 1,500 referrals processed each month in the ACT are completed by fax, which “means a lot of double-handling and manual processing of referral documents that could perhaps be avoided.”  

Project 6 – Starting a New Business

The DTO’s work with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and Service NSW is yet to reach the Discovery stage. Instead, the DTO are preoccupied with looking at research from a number of agencies “to see what’s already available and finalising our arrangements in preparation for kick-off early this year.”

Intermedium also understands that the DTO has been consulting with the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet for some months, as it continues to develop Service Victoria.

In late 2015, the DTO released the first prototype images of the Government’s new portal –, which is also yet to become a working service or face the Digital Services Standard assessment process.

The DTO received $254.7 million over four years in the 2015-16 Budget to initiate the Federal Government’s Digital Transformation Agenda.

Subsequent to initial publication, a spokesperson from the DTO advised Intermedium that the six projects announced in October 2015 have different commencement timeframes depending on the time needed in the mobilisation phase, and that the 20 week completion timeframe commences only when the project moves to the discovery phase.

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