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Cafes, business start-ups now the focus for Service NSW reform

The New South Wales government is examining ways cafes and other small businesses will be able to start up in a day, under an ambitious plan detailed by customer service commissioner Michael Pratt at the Open Government Forum at NSw Parliament House earlier this week.

The reforms are part of a major overhaul that in 15 months has created NSW government one-stop shops, Service NSW, for over 800 state government transactions.

Pratt told the forum the new entity was started to take over a “burning platform” of nearly 400 different government shop fronts, 102 call centres, 8000 different telephone lines and 52 transaction websites.

“No wonder Telstra loved us,” Pratt said. “We now have one number which is answered by a person who takes ownership for following up with the respective agency and closing the case with the customer.”

He said they used Salesforce software to support the unification of their contact touch points.

Current NSW government service deliver (presentation from Mike Pratt)
Current NSW government service deliver (presentation from Mike Pratt)

Pratt told the conference Service NSW was working now on a number of “signature processes”, including bereavement solutions and starting a business in a day.

He cited the example of a 22-year-old trying to start an earth moving business, saying there were 16 different agencies the founder had to deal with.

Pratt said there was a group looking at how to get application times for starting businesses like cafes down to one day. He said cafes needed to deal with a myriad of requirements to commence business.

By focusing on redoing the process, Service NSW had been able to bring down the application time for a Seniors Card from anywhere between two to eight days to just three minutes. “Bad process will always outdo good people,” Pratt said.

Pratt told the forum they were also looking to reduce the large number of plastic cards for a variety of licences sourced from a myriad of suppliers. He said they were investigating how mobile phones could instead be used to authenticate various licences.

Asked about privacy issues, Pratt reinforced how important the issue is for both government organisations and citizens. However, he identified key trends in this space, highlighting international research from Boston Consulting Group that showed about 48% of those surveyed said they would be happy to trade off some privacy for an improved customer experience. Pratt said it was still an emerging area, but citizens seemed open to trade some privacy if they saw a better and smarter way to access services.

He also suggested there were opportunities for the different tiers of government to work together.

[pullquote] “We now have one number which is answered by a person who takes ownership for following up with the respective agency and closing the case with the customer.” [/pullquote]

Pratt said in many cases citizens did not know or care where their service was coming from: “They just want to be able to do it quickly.” He said there were opportunities for all tiers of government to work together, with the view to provide seamless service experiences for citizens. Service NSW has been discussing using the federal government’s myGov application to help with authentication in the state.

The federal government is centralising its digital identity program around myGov, a portal for accessing a variety of services such as Centrelink, Medicare and the Australian Tax Office. Pratt said 7.2 million NSW citizens were possible myGov users and there had been discussions about potential collaboration.

He said NSW is undertaking a service unification, customer-centric approach to digitalisation with resulting cost benefits, whereas Canberra had more of a cost focus.

Pratt is a former senior banking executive who was brought in by the NSW government to reform frontline services.

Pratt told the conference a Service NSW app is to be released later in October. A white paper detailing a road map for service delivery in NSW is being prepared for release in November.

The NSW Finance and Services Minister Dominic Perrottet told the conference the NSW government was strongly committed to transparency and accountability, citing a Texas transparency portal which published spending data. He said the portal had delivered savings of over $8 million from citizens identifying potential savings.

He said in the ACT there is a proposal to publish data for any spending over $10,000. Slides from the forum can be found here.

More at The Mandarin: How a banker delivered happy customers to the NSW govt

Author Bio

Tom Burton

Tom Burton is publisher of The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He has served in various public administration roles, specialising in the media and communications sector. He was a Walkley Award-winning journalist and executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He worked as Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and as managing editor of smh.com.au. He most recently worked at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.