[LINK] Oz: 'Hi-tech efficiency key to future service delivery'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Tue Mar 30 13:53:55 EST 2010
[A report came out yesterday:
[AGRAGA (2010) 'Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of
Australian Government Administration' Advisory Group on Reform of
Australian Government Administration, Canberra, 29 March 2010, at
[An Opinion piece promoting an aspect of it is below.
[There are a couple of common features of proposals to consolidate
public services (and, with them, personal data):
(1) they're always expressed with breathless excitement
(2) little or no attention is paid to consent and privacy
[This one's no exception to either of the above rules. For example,
there are 8 occurrences of the word 'privacy' in the 84+12 pages.
And every one of them is of the form'consistent with privacy', i.e.
[Declaration 1: I haven't had time to read the report yet. One
thing that certainly needs to be evaluated is 'develop and implement
new approaches to collaboration and consultation with citizens on
policy and service delivery issues', briefly discussed on p. 39.
[Declaration 2: Based on an amount of consultancy work in the area,
conducted with colleagues, I published this:
Electronic Services Delivery: From Brochure-Ware to Entry Points
[That was written in late 1998, i.e. over 11 years ago.
[Could it be that the last 15 years of promise has been undermined by
the arrogance of public servants, who have wanted to foist their
conception of how the world should work onto a public that is not
enthusiastic about being treated as cogs in the public service wheel?
[If so, is there anything in this document that could lead to the
necessary culture shift within the APS?
[(Unfortunately, the term 'nanny state' will have to be left out of
conversations for a while, after the reporting of Mark Webber's
comments degraded it by equating it with the freedom to burn rubber).]
Hi-tech efficiency key to future service delivery
March 30, 2010 12:00AM
Here is an example of how an average Australian may have contact with
government 10 years from now.
Lyn has just given birth to her second child, Jai. During her
pregnancy she registered online with Government Services Australia
and selected a range of maternity-related services that she wished to
receive. When Jai is born, the one-stop shop for all government
services swings into action.
A local community midwife starts visiting Lyn every three days. Lyn's
general practitioner opens an electronic health record for Jai. GSA
had already started Lyn's maternity leave payments when she was 38
weeks pregnant; now family payments also begin.
In the weeks after Jai's birth, Lyn gets a text message telling her
where to get the infant immunised. She is offered advice for new
parents, is linked by video to a local mothers' group and told about
childcare facilities in her area. She is emailed Jai's birth
Lyn does not have to register with multiple agencies or miss out on
services. She only has to tell her story once and agencies from all
levels of government combine to offer her an assistance package
tailored to her needs.
This scenario for government service delivery that puts people first
was provided by Medicare to the Australian Public Service's advisory
group on reform, of which I was a member. Making it a reality is
central to our blueprint, released yesterday, for comprehensive
changes in the public service.
Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government
Administration advocates reforms to strengthen the public service
across many areas. But it is in service delivery that these reforms,
if accepted by government, are likeliest to directly affect our lives.
Across many advanced democracies, governments are seeking to use
information technology to change the way they provide services
because it is the right thing to do, but also because citizens expect
From education to entertainment, health services to holidays, people
have unprecedented choices and information. They are also
well-educated and aware of their rights. And with ageing populations,
demand for high-quality services will only grow.
However, Australia lags behind many countries in this field. Too many
Australians remain frustrated by having to use services that insist
on multiple forms, offices, interviews and points of contact with the
customer. Too few government agencies are using IT to connect their
operations and to tailor their services to people's needs. More than
one-third of submissions to the public service reform advisory group
urged a more people-focused approach.
Accordingly, our blueprint advocates that the public service devise a
strategy to create citizen-centred services across all commonwealth
agencies, and in partnership with services provided by state and
It calls on the government to consider the introduction of a regular
citizen survey that would solicit citizens' views on public services
and collect ideas on how they could be improved.
It argues government should do more to use the expertise of the
30,000 front-line workers in service delivery, one-fifth of the
Australian Public Service workforce. Where the private and community
sectors can deliver services more effectively than government, they
should be enabled to do so. Critically, the blueprint argues that
government uses IT not only to put citizens at the heart of service
delivery but to give them a hand in service design.
In 2008 the internet became the most common means by which
Australians had contact with government. This contact is largely
passive: receiving information, completing forms and so on. But in
future government will be able to use the internet to directly tap
the ideas of citizens.
Going even further, our blueprint calls on government to consider
making much more public sector information available online, so
citizen groups and individuals can create new internet databases for
All of this would involve a small revolution in service delivery and
it will not be easy for the public service to achieve. For one, it
requires agencies to be more open with the public and with each other
than they are today. But some agencies are already on the right road.
By the end of this year, all human services agencies will have a
single number and website for accessing their services. At least 20
government offices across Australia will provide a one-stop shop for
the services of Centrelink, Medicare and other agencies. Centrelink's
work with Victorian agencies during last year's bushfires provides a
fine model of citizen-centred service delivery.
This agenda represents an exciting opportunity for the public
service. Many studies show that the experience people have of
services strongly affects their view of government. If these services
are delivered with an unfailing commitment to putting people first,
Australians and Australian democracy can only benefit.
Ann Sherry is the chief executive of Carnival Australia and a member
of the advisory group on Australian Public Service reform.
Roger Clarke http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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