The upcoming beta phase releases of Service Victoria and ServiceWA’s digital portals suggests that the pursuit of citizen-centric digital government services remains a priority for Australian governments, with the Northern Territory soon to be the only jurisdiction without a Whole-of-Government (WofG) citizen-facing omni-channel service delivery agency.
The NT’s lack of a service delivery agency, or the plan to introduce one, was partly responsible for its low score in Intermedium’s latest iteration of the Digital Government Readiness Indicator (DGRI). While Western Australia's and Victoria’s progress had stalled at the time of the report’s compilation, they are likely to improve their scores after their respective service delivery agencies become fully operational.
The rollout of integrated omni-channel government services around the country is also likely to result in larger but fewer contracts for the development and maintenance of government service portals. An increase in the security requirements of such platforms can also be expected, given the sole point of access they will give to a wide range of critical government services for millions of users.
On the cusp
Western Australia’s inaugural ICT strategy, Digital WA, announced the development of a Digital Services Portal, a single point of entry to government services. An alpha version of the new myWA site was launched to the public in December 2016, designed to “engage public and industry feedback and input into the design, and to test the technologies and processes that might be used in the final version of the portal”, according to the Office of the Chief Information Officer.
Once this feedback has been received, a beta version will be launched sometime in 2017-18, focusing on “delivering immediate benefits to the community”. Core goals during the beta phase will be the development of single sign-on capability, standardisation of platforms across agencies, and the consolidation of single gateways for common services such as identity verification.
Victoria is also expected to launch its beta online service delivery platform later in 2017, after the closed alpha release was shown to senior government officials in June. The goal of Service Victoria, closely modelled on Service NSW, is to simplify citizen-to-government transactions by creating new channels that will consolidate the 538 different websites and hundreds of telephony hotlines currently used to deliver government services in Victoria.
In April 2017, Deloitte Digital was selected to conduct the complex task of integrating existing agency systems with Service Victoria under a $42.8 million contract. Salesforce will provide the Customer Relationship Management system under a $1.7 million contract, while AWS will provide the cloud hosting under a $1.7 million Infrastructure-as-a-Service contract. Sitecore and Experian will provide the front end and address validation, respectively.
NSW is Australia’s clear front-runner in omni-channel government services delivery, with Service NSW, launched in 2013, setting the benchmark for other jurisdictions.
In February 2016 Service NSW introduced a ‘tell us once’ digital account that enables citizens to log in to a single platform to access over 950 transactions from over 40 government agencies, including Roads and Maritime Service transactions such as licence information, vehicle registrations and demerit points. The network also includes service centres, contact centres, digital stores, instore agencies and digital self-serve kiosks. As of June 2016, Service NSW operates 63 service centres across the state.
Digital drivers’ licences are the headline initiative of the next stage of Service NSW’s rollout. The first customer trials are planned in Dubbo in November this year, and will “inform the state-wide rollout of the digital licence by 2019”.
Security and privacy concerns are expected to be paramount in the rollout of digital drivers’ licences. It is probable that, like the recreational licences currently available through Service NSW, licence data will be stored in MyServiceNSW accounts and housed in NSW’s government-owned data centre, GovDC.
Other jurisdictions around Australia are undertaking improvements to their existing service delivery platforms, driven by funding allocated in their 2017-18 budgets.
The Federal Government’s myGov portal provides a centralised point of access to a variety of services provided by the Departments of Human Services, Health, Veterans’ Affairs, and the Australian Taxation Office. It also acts as a point of contact for tell-us-once updating of personal information, which is then forwarded to the majority of major service delivery agencies.
The myGov platform will also form the basis of the Digital Transformation Agency’s WofG platforms including the GovPass digital identity platform, which is currently in the closed beta stage and expected to be made available to the public in early 2018.
The 2017-18 Federal Budget included funding to expand other platform capabilities supporting tell-us-once reform and a federated data exchange.
Queensland’s service hub, Smart Service Queensland (SSQ), consists of a WofG ‘tell us once’ service for citizens’ personal details, a One-Stop Shop launched in 2016, and three contact centres. The state is currently trialling personalised and location-based web content.
The Australian Capital Territory established its omni-channel service delivery agency Access Canberra in 2014. It provides a one-stop shop for government services through an online portal, contact centre and shop-fronts. From September 2017, Canberra motorists will be able to renew their drivers' licences via the Access Canberra online portal.
The ACT Digital Strategy 2016-2019 states that the government is in the process of developing several programs and initiatives, including iConnect, an online service delivery portal that will include features such as digital mailboxes, end-to-end transactions and bill payments, service reminders, and automatic payments; One Service One Experience, which will establish a common customer service platform within Access Canberra and deliver more online services; and the Access Canberra Intelligent Regulator platform, which will redesign and consolidate approvals needed in the liquor and motor vehicle sector with a view to applying it in other sectors.
The Tasmanian Government’s Service Tasmania portal was established in 1998, making it the oldest centralised citizen-facing service delivery system in the country, but the ICT funding drought over the past two years preceding the current budget has led to the state lagging in innovation of its service delivery platforms.
In the 2017-18 State Budget, however, upwards of $60 million has been allocated to critical system upgrades and the digital agenda. $3.3 million, including a capital injection of $1.9 million over three years from 2017-18, went to the Department of Justice to implement stage two of its iplan project, which will make Tasmania’s online development approvals system “one of the best in the nation”. iplan is scheduled for completion in 2020.
Additionally, $1 million in capital investment over four years will provide for an upgrade of Service Tasmania service centres and the regular replacement and/or upgrade of essential Service Tasmania-related technology and infrastructure.
Similarly to the NSW and Victorian models, South Australia’s Service SA is designed as a centralised channel for the provision of a range of government services online, over the phone and in person. Services currently provided through the portal include licensing and registration services, online payments, registrations and access to forms and information.
The only notable development in Service SA in the past twelve months was the launch of a digital storefront, which has only a limited range of products available for purchase, suggesting a need for further development. The trends in mature jurisdictions indicate an expansion of the available services and greater accessibility to services, such as through service centres and smartphone apps, are likely to inform Service SA’s future development.