Prioritising the needs of Australians and utilising digital channels can help governments adapt to changing service demands, according to a new report.
Consultancy firm Deloitte and multinational software company Adobe paired up to look at how Australians interact with state and federal governments. Their findings are based on official data and estimates of how long different transactions take. It expands on similar research they conducted in 2014.
Transactions vary widely across agencies and can involve processes such as applying for government payments, making a complaint, lodging tax returns, applying for a passport, renewing a driver’s licence, and changing addresses.
All of these transactions can rack up a day’s worth of lost time, the report argues.
“Today, the average Australian still spends the equivalent of one working day a year waiting in queues, waiting on hold or mailing forms to complete government transactions via traditional channels,” it says.
They found the average Australian over the age of 15 made 40 government transactions in 2014. This rose to 55 times in 2018.
According to the report, there were 293 million government transactions conducted via traditional channels — such as over the phone and in person — in 2018. Meanwhile, digital interactions rose from 472 million to 825 million over four years.
The report argues that if the government efficiently utilised digital experience platforms, it could save Australians an average of eight hours a year. Regional Australians could benefit the most, saving up to 14 hours each, while those who regularly interact with the government, such as pensioners, could save 13 hours a year.
Deloitte and Adobe propose a “citizen engagement dividend” which the companies say have “impressive” potential.
“If government agencies made the most of digital experience platforms and new ways of delivering services to improve the efficiency of citizen transactions, it could effectively give back one day to every adult every year.”
The report argues the changing pace in the private sector is “driving demand for digital government” by raising the bar for service delivery.
“Citizens expect that government services can be provided to them in the same way that they enjoy in their personal lives, such as banking and entertainment,” the report said.
Craig Levy, Asia Pacific Adobe Alliance Lead Partner, Deloitte Digital, agrees.
“This means that more than ever, government departments and agencies need to close the digital engagement gap and focus on delivering the right content and services at the right time; across all citizen touchpoints,” he says.
The findings back up international research that suggests countries with better digital interaction and service delivery performance enjoy higher perceptions of government effectiveness.
Deloitte and Adobe encourage governments to overcome barriers by taking a “citizen-centric” outlook rather than a “government-centric” outlook, and embrace an experimental culture rather than a traditional work approach.
The report made six recommendations to Australian governments across all levels:
- Create a shared sense of commitment to improving services, including service accuracy, cost, quality and availability, as well as the delivery of transformational change (e.g. new technology) and new government priorities (e.g. new initiatives or more opening channels).
- Simplify the number and complexity of services for targeted citizen and business groups to reduce the administrative burden through simplification and automation of activity.
- Build and operate digital platforms that support unification and harmonisation of services, including the engineering to incorporate pre-existing platforms.
- Securely measure and analyse the data that citizens share to improve their experiences.
- Review business case guidance with a view to releasing systematic processes on measuring and including the return on investment for citizen experience. This will enable the real value of citizen experience benefits to be baselined and measured to justify investment across the system of government.
- Put customers at the core of decision making, and progress open data initiatives that can support citizen trust, transparency and user control.
“These initiatives leverage the success so far to bring more services into the tent and make a big impact to the quality and perception of how effectively government services are being delivered.”