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Digital leadership in Government

Tom Burton: If you were coaching agency leads, okay, the world’s going digital, your citizens are now well ahead what would be some of the points you would want to make to sort of agency head when they think about this. Some of the agency that are very hand digital, some quite digital but we got sort of common observation for those sort of people CEO, secretary of the department that sort of thing?

Vivek Kundra: In a lot of the meetings that I’ve had around the world you know whether I’m in Tokyo, in London or Washington or in Canberra, one of the common themes that I’ve observed is that people are trying to boil the ocean. And so there is this kind of analysis paralysis where there is somehow this view that there is a magic outlet out there and the reality is you’ve got to be able to be very, very focused, pick a few areas that you want to go after, be ruthless when it comes to executing your initiatives and make sure that they don’t get caught up in the old kind of doctor no reason for why things don’t move forward whether it’s procurement, or its budget or people are talking about talent.

What I think it’s really about is leadership and I have to tell you in my meeting with Minister Turnbull, I’ve been inspired, you actually have a leader who not only deeply believe in this transformation but has put together a dream team that’s going after this and I would argue that any agency had or secretary need to tap into that energy and leverage that momentum so that you’re actually racing to the top, so you’re the first agency that’s moving towards this transformation rather than what is traditional the default setting of government which is to resist change.

Tom Burton: Right and if I’m hearing what you’re saying kick off particular target, so a particular point points within your agency what you mean if you regulate it, it might be you got a whole bunch of people coming at you for applications, how do I manage that, is that the point you meant?

Vivek Kundra: Absolutely, let’s take an example right if you’re the department of social securities, today if you want to interface with the Department of Social Services you can go online but you’re forced to download a form that has 250 questions that you have to answer and then you submit it and I believe you’re told you shouldn’t call for 30 days. There is no feedback group that tells you they received your form, where they are in a process and what’s required as far as any information that’s missing. So, you create this horrific interaction with government…

Tom Burton: Just to be clear are we talking about the US security department?

Vivek Kundra: No, here.

Tom Burton: Okay.

Vivek Kundra: You could see a whole host of use cases where the government can take it to the next level and be much more predictive. So, for example, if you’re driving and your licence plate is expired and you get a ticket instead of the answer being you’re constantly being ticketed what if the government were to say, ‘hey, you’re ticketed, we can renew you licence and if there’s issues as far as the instruction is concerned here’s your appointment that has been set up for you’. I mean that’s the model where a lot of these agencies can really, really focus, pick one or two areas, prove success and then build a momentum behind that.

So even in the case of New South of Wales they didn’t start with four hundred transactions over a 24-hour period, it was very much discipline around starting with a few transactions and then every quarter building on that momentum, building on that success. And I think most leaders forget who they work for; they get too caught up in bureaucracy instead of going out there and having town halls with your citizens asking them which transaction would you like to see online. What would you like to have transformed as a customer and they have the answers and there is a demand side there. You could build a lot of positive momentum for your agency if you step out of your office, engage the community, bring them with you, build the solution and then scale rapidly.

Author Bio

The Mandarin

The Mandarin staff journalists.