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Home Features Accelerating the digital transformation of government
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DEPARTMENTSDepartment of Communications and the Arts, Digital Transformation Office
Australia may not be a “laggard” in the digital space, but the DTO could be the best opportunity we have had in a long time to reset and re-imagine the business model of the digital age. The key to unlocking productivity growth and increasing global competitiveness rests in how the DTO pulls off its “start-up” approach.
The Australian government recently announced the establishment of a Digital Transformation Office, to advance the national e-Government agenda. At the time, the Prime Minister and Communications Minister said the DTO would operate “more like a start-up”, bringing together developers, researchers and designers to put customer needs and user experience front and centre. The idea of public services being as well-designed and easy to use as AirBnB or goCatch sounds attractive, but just how feasible is it to create a digital start-up inside government?
Supporters point to the UK’s government Digital Service, a unit established inside the UK Cabinet Office in 2011 to implement the government’s “digital by default” strategy. Denmark’s MindLab and Agency for Digitisation have been around for even longer, and have helped make Denmark a world leader in digital government. Although the U.S. is behind in this space, it is quickly catching up. Last year, it established the U.S. Digital Service and this year it launched 18F, a new digital government consulting unit inside the General Services Administration.
There are now more than a dozen similar digital government offices around the world. BCG has looked at the initiatives in the UK, USA and Denmark, as well as similar efforts by e-government leaders such as South Korea, Estonia and Singapore; hi-tech countries such as Finland, Norway and Israel; as well as innovators like the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Malaysia. When we look at what is happening overseas, it is clear that governments need to consider five building blocks to create the right conditions for a successful “digital office”.
Digital identity and assurance is another key focus. Although there is a public perception that easier access to digital services is less secure and more susceptible to fraud, the reverse is true. Smarter analytics in the back-end are better at picking up potential fraudulent activity using algorithms and behavioural triggers. Despite varying cultural attitudes to privacy, there is clearly a role for government to facilitate the development of identity services and trust frameworks to grease the wheels of the digital economy. New Zealand’s Ministry of Internal Affairs digital team is developing an authentication service known as RealMe which will be open to the private and public sector, and Sweden’s BankID model allows people to access government services using their existing banking credentials.
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Miguel Carrasco is partner and managing director in the Canberra office of The Boston Consulting Group. He is also a senior advisor to the Centre for Public Impact.
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