NSW Government's digital vision for change

By Greg Wells, NSW Government Chief Information and Digital Officer
Monday, 05 November, 2018

NSW Government's digital vision for change

Digital government is about designing for citizens’ needs, knowing their story and connecting agencies to deliver better services.

One of the more thought-provoking common questions we receive working in ‘digital government’ is quite simply, “Are we there yet?” If Denmark, Estonia and Seoul are accepted as being ‘there’, how does NSW get ‘there’ too?

We think we’ve made a great start. In fact, we think NSW is a leader, but many would probably agree we are not completely ‘there’ yet. So we are openly sharing the next steps in our journey, with a threefold purpose.

Firstly, the more input and ideas we get the better. While we are simultaneously developing and delivering a digital.nsw delivery roadmap and investment strategy, we do not have all the answers.

We are seeking a wide range of input (including from citizens) to help to shape our approach, on the basis that suggestions about what has worked elsewhere may help us to achieve our goals faster. Some of our best solutions have come from ideas generated outside government.

Agencies will continue this heritage with innovation challenges such as those being run by the NSW Department of Transport, and we hope to ramp this up through a number of new channels too, such as the Pitch to Pilot event in November.

Secondly, we want to model the way digital organisations should operate. Our objective is to transform the way government operates, from policy, regulation and investment through to service delivery and procurement. Working in the open is a foundation of this transformation.

Finally, we hope that the documentation of our journey — including what does and does not work, and what we learn along the way, will be of use to others on a similar journey.

Where is ‘there’?

We agree with Tom Loosemore, founder of the Government Digital Service in the United Kingdom, who has said: “We’re not here to change government websites; we’re here to change government.”

For us, changing government quite simply means we support people — parents, carers, students, patients — with better government services. People want services that are smart, simple and seamless.

So, when will NSW be there?

‘There’ is when government knows and understands citizens’ stories — which they should only have to tell us once (particularly for our most vulnerable).

‘There’ is when we support important events in citizens’ lives in a way that is appropriate for their contexts and situations — where possible, without paper and without visiting a government ‘office’ at a time that is convenient for government.

‘There’ is explaining what people need to do in simple terms (not in government, or agency jargon).

And ‘there’ is when services are designed around citizens’ needs and can be accessed in a manner of their choice.

‘There’ is also about government respecting citizens’ time, making them feel safe, being proactive about issues that impact them and finding opportunities to help.

Feedback from people across NSW who have renewed a licence, used an online courtroom or needed a clinician to access their medical images from anywhere in the state tell us that we are ‘there’ with many of our services, which is great.

So the question now is: how do we do more, accelerate and scale this up?

What do we have planned?

Accelerating customer experience initiatives is our number one focus. Everything we do should be viewed through this lens first. Right now we are focused on:

  • working across clusters to design and deliver government services based on customer journeys and important life events. Our plan is to start with ‘Making it easier for new parents to start or grow a family’ and ‘Making it easier to manage the loss of a loved one’, as also prioritised by the Australian Digital Council;
  • building more capacity in the Digital NSW Accelerator (DNA) Lab to work closely with Service NSW and agencies to rapidly design, test and prototype how we support these customer journeys;
  • the adoption of common components across government that provide people with a ‘single view of government’. We have built a Customer Experience (CX) Pipeline to enable this work. Service NSW has already delivered a range of these products, in particular the MyService Account/ID;
  • building a digital.nsw design system to scale the delivery of consistent, people-centric digital services across government. The digital design system will have everything from style guidance and code for common tasks through to methods, roles and ways for the community to contribute and maintain it. The first iteration is planned for later in 2018.

However, delivering digitally enabled services means progressing work on many fronts. For example:

  • a digital.nsw roadmap, funding model and architecture must be linked and our assurance model must work in this context;
  • accelerating customer experience initiatives requires common architecture components and our digital design system. It is also closely linked to the way we use, share and analyse data;
  • building trust with people means that cybersecurity and critical infrastructure must underpin everything we do.

Our teams are working hard not only in these areas, but also on priorities such as buy.nsw, the Critical Communications Enhancement Program (and connectivity more generally) as well as our data ecosystem, cybersecurity and technology platform priorities.

Digital government is about technology, but it’s mostly about people: designing for their needs, knowing their story and connecting agencies to deliver better services. When we do this, at scale, NSW will definitely be ‘there’.

Pictured: Greg Wells, NSW Government Chief Information and Digital Officer.

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