myGov faces overhaul, OneGov celebrates
Some $50m in major improvements to digital services effort myGov are on the cards as the federal Coalition government ramps up rhetoric around digital transformation, with promises to sic the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) on transformation stragglers if it is re-elected on 2 July.
Plans to review myGov — which has struggled to fulfil its vision of providing citizens with a simple, effective interface to government services including Medicare, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, ATO, Centrelink and others — were a key plank of the government’s digital services policy, launched this week as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull works to leverage his record of digital transformation into an election-day asset.
Some $50m will be invested to “modernise” myGov, the policy states, as Turnbull empowers the DTO to more aggressively lead agencies through transformation efforts that have been a hallmark of his administration.
The policy highlights improvements to myGov’s “overall sign-in experience”; portability of myGov credentials to allow direct access to individual government services; and improved usability and design with a focus on improving the experience of accessing government services from mobile devices.
“At present, providing, updating and accessing personal information stored by government is often complex, repetitive and can lead to errors,” the policy states. “We will build on our ‘tell us once’ policy by providing Australians with greater control of their personal information....The public will only need to update their details once and that information will be shared with all Australian Government agencies, and with linked private sector services. Users will have complete control over which agencies and linked services they share personal information with.”
The policy also includes deeper use of shared-service providers and cloud services, and will commit the government to deliver a digital transformation roadmap by November this year. Here, again, the DTO — which Turnbull created during his tenure as communications minister and kept under his wing after assuming the prime ministership last year (read GTR’s interview with DTO CEO Paul Shetler) — will take the lead in helping agencies identify opportunities to deliver their services better.
The DTO delivered a prototype of its gov.au service consolidation platform earlier this year and plans to launch it in public beta before year’s end.
“The integration of data across internal departments enables the public sector to create a master customer database and easily identify citizen profiles in a single view,” said David Hope, APAC vice president and managing director with government service provider Pitney Bowes. “This modernisation process is challenging IT departments to structure public services and applications centred on data rather than processes.”
To fulfil this goal, the architects of myGov — which with its high citizen visibility is a key driver in reshaping the increasingly customer-centric face of the public service — will be closely following efforts such as New South Wales Government’s OneGov, a whole-of-government portal that recently marked a significant milestone as it centralises a range of NSW services under the Service NSW banner.
That milestone — the launch of online driver’s licence renewals via web or mobile interface — represents the kind of services that have been so successful in NSW that the state’s government this week allocated $50m in additional Budget funding to support improvements and new services through Service NSW.
This level of investment reflects the perceived importance of customer-facing transformation to the state government, where transformation has gathered momentum since the agency’s OneGov effort kicked off several years ago.
Before then, the NSW Government “had clusters of departments, each with systems and processes — and lots of databases”, OneGov Technology Head Rahul Dutta told attendees at the recent Connect Expo 2016 Connected Government Summit. This structure created both technical and procedural issues that went “not just to one organisation but pretty much every cluster”, he explained, noting chronic problems with data quality and low citizen satisfaction with online services. “We were having difficulties delivering digital services because the systems were old and people didn’t have the right skills and know-how.
“As a result the customer was suffering,” he continued. “People had to wait in line for services and provide the same information again and again. A lot of people couldn’t use mobile services; there was no digital and no social; the thing was run with plastic cards; and data security was questionable as well.”
Several years of service rationalisation under the Service NSW umbrella had turned the situation around, with 49 government groups onboarded to the Service NSW platform.
That platform is based on a common hybrid cloud with more than 100 shared business processes made available to government agencies using APIs — the “secret sauce”, Dutta said, mirroring the DTO’s own API-driven philosophy — in an effort that at its peak was seeing a new NSW agency brought online every two months. “Some are small, and some are very large organisations with existing complicated legacy systems,” he said.
“We’ve been developing techniques where we can deploy business processes very quickly without having to wait a long time. And while the silos are still there, the service platform has been standardised and we are able to constantly vent the customer contact channels into one.”
Continuous reinvention was the key to delivering on the unified services vision, Dutta said, noting that customer satisfaction levels of 98% had demonstrated the effectiveness of the OneGov transformation and helped the transformation team progressively sell the effort into new parts of the government.
“You have to be opportunistic sometimes to see which buttons you can push to get something done,” he said. “You really have to understand your stakeholders, and spend time with them to understand what they want. We’re still experimenting, but we are lucky to be in a culture of innovation and to have a huge number of people that support us. That has been the basis of our success.”
The Coalition’s policy also includes the use of public dashboards to measure government performance against private sector standards — a common benchmark in Turnbull’s push for service-led government efficiency — and establishing a taskforce in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to reform government ICT procurement policies.
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