By Damon Rees, Chief Information and Digital Officer, NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation
We are living in an exciting time of change, transformation, and disruption through technology. NSW citizens are more connected than ever, and looking for ways to better harness the power available to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities in which they live.
NSW is leading the nation by reimagining the role of government in the digital age with its digital government transformation, including the Digital Government Strategy. In June 2017, the independent research firm Intermedium ranked NSW as the national leader in digital government readiness.
NSW is working hard in the areas of citizen-centric service delivery and procurement reform and is leaping ahead in integrating data analytics and evidence-driven government through the Data Analytics Centre (DAC).
This digital government transformation is made possible through the cultivation of a public sector that values sharing and collaboration and is supported by technology platforms, legislative reform, and strategies that are already delivering the next generation of services.
The Government’s 2017-18 budget puts digital and ICT investment to work for the people of NSW where it matters to them – in health, education, roads and transport, support for families, help for those who need it most, and the right conditions for businesses to grow.
The DAC received $16.8 million over four years in the last budget. The DAC is tackling important problems the government is facing today and, as an Australian first, it is now being replicated in other jurisdictions.
We are also continuing to build our cyber security capability. In May 2017 Dr. Maria Milosavljevic was appointed to NSW’s first whole-of-government Chief Information Security Officer position. Dr. Milosavljevic will focus on establishing key roles and capabilities across government to boost cyber security capability.
The Budget also reflects the Government’s digital strategy, and three key priorities of customer experience, data, and digital on the inside. The strategy is aimed at enabling the NSW public sector to adopt better approaches to policy design and service delivery. It reflects the need for the whole-of-government to be digital in a coordinated way. Establish relation between citizens seeing state as a single entity and need for customer-centric approach.
We need digital services that are secure and protect personal information
The NSW Government aims to have 70 percent of government transactions conducted via digital channels by 2019, and the Digital Government Strategy is a key component in addressing this.
Innovations like the Government’s FuelCheck app provide one of the best examples of NSW Government leading the digital government transformation. FuelCheck is an online tool that provides consumers with accurate, reliable, real-time information about fuel prices at every service station across NSW. It drives market competition by making small and independent service stations more visible. At the same time, it gives people the power to choose cheaper fuel prices.
At certain times, FuelCheck has allowed motorists to see a price difference of 30 cents a litre in neighbouring suburbs. Initial estimates indicate the NSW public will be able to save around $80 million every year.
The app has been overwhelmingly popular. In the first six months, FuelCheck had over one million hits. Organizations such as NRMA, PetrolSpy, and others are using this data feed for their apps, while universities such as University of Sydney and UTS are using these fuel prices for research.
Fuelcheck is a great example of how the NSW Government works with industry, the research sector, and the broader community to bring benefits to all NSW citizens.
The digital strategy also foregrounds four enablers to support our priorities – technology, cyber security, legislation, and delivery capability.
We need digital services that are secure and protect personal information. At the back end, we want government processes to be seamless. We want legislation to take into account emerging technology and new business models, and enable citizens to use digital compliance methods. We want policy designed and built by product teams, using iterative and customer-centric methods.
Moving to an agile method of working within government is important in delivering benefits across whole-of-government. In the past, ICT projects produced through more rigid public service design and delivery approaches have experienced long delays because of the difficulties in reaching agreements among a large number of agencies with diverse needs.
An agile approach to service delivery uses small collaborative teams to deliver incremental outcomes that are shaped with and tested by citizens and continuously improved and rolled out iteratively. In NSW Government we are embedding agile ways to working, increasing collaboration and sharing within and beyond state government.
A successful example is a Feedback Assist widget, providing a standardized way for customers to provide comments or complaints on NSW Government services. This widget has been developed and tested with smaller agencies and is being provided as a ‘bolt-on’ that agencies can adopt in their own way for their own websites.
As a result, a new whole-of-government policy on a better way of receiving complaints, comments and suggestions can be rolled out over multiple government websites without years of delay in building a one size fits all solution.
As the digital strategy takes effect, we will measure success not through commands and edicts, but through six-month implementation plans that share stories of success and bring agencies together to learn from each other and work on joint projects. My hope is that we are increasingly known for our customer focus, collaboration, and agility that drive meaningful outcomes for the citizens and businesses of NSW.
I believe a digital government is necessary for good governance and in five years time, perhaps we won’t be talking about digital government, it will just be the way things are done.
As you can tell, there are exciting times ahead for NSW. The NSW Government is dedicated to improving NSW for our citizens and is committed to their digital future.