WA presents a united front for service delivery and invests big in public sector ICT

By Stephen Easton

Monday May 13, 2019

The Western Australian government plans to open a new shopfront and a related service delivery website representing four departments plus the police force under its ServiceWA branding, following the style of the relatively successful ServiceNSW.

Last week’s WA budget committed $6.9 million to a pilot that will see the first new shopfront established in the city of Bunbury, south of Perth. Along with the WA police it will offer face-to-face services for the departments of Transport; Justice; Communities; and Primary Industries and Regional Development.

ServiceWA will provide access to “85 everyday services” at the Bunbury pilot site, and through a new website.

Previously, the ServiceWA program focused entirely on improving digital delivery of government services and specifically excluded “digitally assisted services or consolidated counter services” which remained the responsibility of individual agencies. In 2016, the WA government began testing a prototype website called myWA with 4000 alpha testers and followed up with the launch of the current wa.gov.au site in February, 2018.

Following the 2019-20 state budget, Premier Mark McGowan said the aim of the game was “shifting the focus from traditional siloed government structures to put the community at the centre of how services are delivered, and allowing access to these services in a simplified way”.

During the pilot phase, at least, the government will take feedback from the community to adjust the model.

“ServiceWA will transform the way the community accesses government services,” said McGowan. “By creating a one-stop shop, it will reduce frustration, traveling time, waiting in queues, and searching for the right department.

“This is the first step to reforming face-to-face and online service delivery, to improve access to government services.

“ServiceWA supports my Government’s commitment to deliver better services to the people of Western Australia.”

The Member for Bunbury, Don Punch, said government service delivery could be “confusing and, at times, frustrating” for citizens and was pleased that his electorate was chosen to host the first example of the new system.

The ServiceWA reform is in addition to a big investment in public sector ICT upgrades and digital transformation of service delivery across multiple agencies, not least the police force, which has received funding for a shift to cloud computing and greater use of mobile technology.

The Office of Digital Government gets $34.7m to “lead the digital transformation of the Western Australian public sector” in what the McGowan government claims is the state’s first ever commitment to “ongoing funding for a digital reform agenda and to support agencies in improving service delivery to the community”.

The Minister for ICT, Dave Kelly, said the previous government had only “temporarily funded” the agency, previously known as the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, to pursue whole-of-government ICT strategy, policy and reform, and left it with an ambiguous role.

The ODG is also expected to raise public-sector cyber security standards, lead implementation of ICT procurement reforms, come up with a plan to “reduce the digital divide” and also improve data sharing and analytics capabilities across government.

McGowan’s team is holding firm on its strict $1000-a-year cap on public sector payrises; Treasurer Ben Wyatt said this was a key reason the budget could get back into surplus and removing it would be a major step back to deficit.

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