The improved use of ICT and greater collaboration with the technology sector to transform service delivery could result in savings of up to $6 billion per annum for the public sector at a national level, Victorian Chief Technology Advocate Grantly Mailes said at CeBIT's GovInnovate conference on 28 November. Mailes has called for a change in the way the public sector approaches ICT and service delivery in increasingly harsh budget and staffing environments. In particular, he outlined the significant opportunities for government through industry collaboration in areas of mobility, digitisation and the use of cloud as agencies grapple with maintaining or improving services in the face of tightening ICT budgets. "We now have revenue growth and expenses growth tracking pretty much the same. The implication for us is that it doesn't give us freedom to invest in the services our citizens are expecting. "That together with an increasing demand on the public purse means we actually do have a case for change. "The tech sector has done a number of interesting things for us in service delivery, and I think the most important…is the fact that it is now beginning to change the break-even point for most of the services we want to deliver." This sort of collaboration by government agencies could also address gaps left by the significant public sector cuts that are beginning to emerge. "The process is largely around efficiency, effectiveness and it can give us new service delivery models," said Mailes. "[We want] our colleagues, anyone close to the frontline, freed up to manage more complex cases, [not] on the end of a cash register." Specific areas of ICT that are emerging in the public sector include "cheap and scalable" cloud options, the use of data analytics to "target services with laser focus to consumers", and the use of mobility, said Mailes. "We're seeing the appification of the world." These elements ultimately contribute to the broader digitisation of government services. "60 per cent of [customers] are looking for more services online, and mobile apps are emerging as the preference for that," said Mailes. However, government is lagging in the process of digital service delivery in comparison to the private sector. Some successful examples that exist in the Australian public sector, and that other agencies could look towards, include Service NSW, which is currently implementing centres across the State that aim to operate as a single point of contact for a range of agencies and transactions, both online and in person. The Federal Department of Human Services is also undertaking a broad service delivery transformation that includes increased digitisation and mobility to improve the ease and speed of customer access. "They're just starting to appify all of the things they do, and one of those apps is the baby bonus app," said Mailes. "The very first [user] they got, a new mum, got the form, took the photograph, uploaded it, got the money, got the verification from the bank account in 23 minutes. "The process used to take six weeks. It's stellar."
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