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NSW leads Intermedium’s Digital Government Readiness Indicator

by Euan Brown •
Free resource

New South Wales has established itself as the national leader in digital service delivery and e-government initiatives, according to Intermedium’s inaugural Digital Government Readiness Indicator.

The Digital Government Readiness Indicator is an Intermedium initiative that measures the performance of jurisdictions in remodelling themselves to support digital best practice. Scoring is based on how well jurisdictions meet key criteria in six areas: ICT Strategy, ICT Policy, ICT Governance, Procurement Policy, [Digital] Service Delivery, and Cross-Jurisdictional Cooperation.

South Australia has emerged as the second best performing jurisdiction, outstripping the Federal and Queensland governments thanks to its high score in the areas of Strategy, Policy, Governance and Digital Service Delivery. Lagging behind the rest of the country, Western Australia performed poorly against key indicators, however the state’s outlook over the next 12 months looks promising.

Intermedium will endeavour to update the Indicator to reflect ongoing events, and also expects to add an additional criterion – Budget Funding. This criterion will account for government ICT investment in initiatives supporting citizen facing service delivery as opposed to back-office agency operations.   

New South Wales

The Baird Government is leading the digital transformation charge – given the alacrity with which NSW has implemented its digital agenda, it is little surprise the state has scored so highly across all metrics.

Service NSW is fast becoming a model for the provision of digital services that are convenient, user-friendly and comprehensive to citizens. Working through multiple service delivery channels Service NSW emphasises user experience and needs, the Service NSW app for example boasts a real-time waiting time feature.

Forthcoming expansions to the service includes an updated app, due in October, and the development of a digital account which will allow citizens to register their personal details digitally once in order to access linked NSW government services.

NSW’s user-centricity is also reflected in its ICT Strategy which is updated yearly following public consultations.

Other initiative such as the Accelerating Digital Government Taskforce, whose functions were shifted to the Service Innovation and Strategy division within the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (Finance) in November last year, demonstrate the priority the Baird Government has placed on “adopting customer-centric service design, digital-by-design, and commissioning approaches to assist… the [public] sector to design and deliver better services.”

A strong ICT Governance score gives NSW its edge, with two active ministers (Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello), and executive-level committees.

South Australia

South Australia is proving itself to be a leader in ICT Policy and ICT Governance.

Digital privacy measures, information security, and data retention are all areas in which the state has developed robust policy. Examples include the Information Privacy Principles and SA Government Records Management Strategy V2 documents.

South Australia was the first state to abolish its CIO position in favour of a WofG position – Director, Digital Government – that shifted the emphasis of ICT leadership to citizen-facing digital service delivery (Rick Seaman is currently acting in the role). SA is also reaping the benefits of being an early mover in adopting an open data policy.

Indicative of its first-mover tendency, South Australia was among the first states to implement an electronic multi-modal ticketing solution for its public transport network rolling-out Metrocard in 2012. South Australia was able to avoid the cost blow-outs and delays that plagued comparable solutions in neighbouring states, spending just $42 million on the initial system.

The Weatherill Government has also proactively pursued a “digital by default” agenda and a delivery model, Service SA, which aims to offer citizens “anytime, anywhere” access to public sector services.

Federal

The Federal Government’s high score can be attributed to its well-developed ICT policy, its digital service delivery initiative – myGov – and the measures it has put in place to encourage cross-jurisdictional cooperation.

The Government’s policy initiatives cover privacy, information security, big data, a cloud-first agenda, and guidance including the Digital Service Standard, making it a reference point for other jurisdictions.

The Standard is particularly notable as all Federal services within the scope of the Standard must meet set criteria before they can be launched. The criteria ensures Australian Government digital services are “simpler, faster and easier to use”, have a “consistent look, feel, tone and function” and means “we can consistently provide high quality services that satisfy our users’ needs”.

The Federal Government has also committed $255 million to its digital transformation agenda in the 2015-16 Budget. Key projects include establishing the Digital Transformation Office to oversee the transformation and agency-level Digital Transformation Plans that will inform dashboard reporting of departmental progress towards digital government.

Other initiatives include developing a “tell us once” feature for citizens’ details, creating a digital mailbox and consolidating myGov – further offering the product for use by state and territory governments for free.

Queensland

Queensland has shown itself to be a strong performer in the areas of ICT Policy, Procurement and Service Delivery.  

Revitalising government service delivery using digital technologies was a primary objective behind the GoDigitalQld strategy. The state continues to achieve this with its Do It Online and Smart Service Queensland web portals, which combine 392 services for instantaneous access.

The newly-elected Palaszczuk Government has shown itself to be proactive, delivering funds to key citizen-facing ICT projects in its first budget. It has also refreshed its ICT Modernisation Plan only six months after the previous refresh, with goals such as exploring alternative government service delivery models through contemporary ICT-enabled business solutions that deliver value-for-money.

Furthermore, QLD has established good procurement practices such as the ICT SME Participation Scheme, which aims to lower the barrier costs for SMEs seeking to do business with the government.

Victoria

Although Victoria’s moves to more digital government have been handicapped by poor ICT project governance and management, the future outlook is positive as the Andrews Government’s ICT priorities become more crystallized.

According to a recent Auditor-General report, public dissatisfaction with the state’s current digital service delivery is due to its lack of a “robust, secure and timely whole-of-public-sector approach”.

However, the launch of Service Victoria, which is a service model similar to Service NSW, is likely to improve the state’s performance. Chris Eccles, who was instrumental in the design and initial launch of Service NSW, has been appointed Secretary of the Department of Premier & Cabinet, which has assumed responsibility for the Digital Government Branch (now renamed the Enterprise Solutions Branch). This branch is responsible for overseeing Victorian WofG ICT Strategy, e-Government, ICT Procurement and ICT Innovation.

Tasmania

In 1998, Tasmania became the first state to employ a one-stop shop service, Service Tasmania – an online, telephone, and in-person service delivery model.

In its 2011 ICT Strategy, the Tasmanian Government committed itself to ensuring that “by 2015 there will be a fully integrated customer interface to government (across all service delivery channels) for greater transactional services”.

However, more recently the Hodgman Government has cut ICT spending and moved back to a focus on shared services arrangements in order to leverage economies of scale for WofG back-office services.

This lack of prioritisation has led to the state lagging in innovating its front-office services. For example, the state has yet to begin the move to single-sign-on accounts such as the Federal Government’s myGov.

Western Australia

The WA Government still lacks a whole-of-government ICT Strategy, has an insufficiently robust ICT procurement framework in place, and is falling behind other jurisdictions in developing comprehensive digital service channels for citizens at a whole-of-government level.

However, the state is likely to improve on the Indicator over the next 12 months, with the establishment of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer on 1 July 2015, and an ICT strategy expected to be published in early 2016.

WA also recently released a whole-of-government Open Data Policy and is expecting to release a cloud policy in the near future.  

While Intermedium’s Indicator measures jurisdictions at the whole-of-government level, WA does have some digital government leaders at the agency-level, including Landgate and the Department of Transport.

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