New minister, new look for all Human Services shopfronts

By Stephen Easton

February 15, 2016

myGov's existing interior

As well as a new minister, the Department of Human Services is getting a facelift.

Stuart Robert’s demise on Friday not only brings Alan Tudge to the fore in the customer-facing portfolio as its third minister since September 2013, it also coincides with another unrelated opportunity for a fresh start.

The department is going to market looking for suppliers of “front of house marketing and design services” to help it put in place a new “consistent marketing approach” across all of its service centres, myGov shopfronts and anywhere else it makes its mark in public life.

Why? According to the tender documents:

“The look and feel of the Department’s office network shapes the opinions of its customers and impacts staff morale. Customers should be able to clearly identify the Department’s offices and the services they provide.”

The department’s chorus of critics might suggest the opinions of its customers are shaped more by their experiences of its service delivery than by the “look and feel” of its offices, and that morale depends more on how well employees are supported to provide that customer service than branding.

Nevertheless, the federal service delivery giant is putting together a panel of suppliers any agency can call on for design services under two separate categories: retail design, which mainly concerns physical spaces themselves, and the digital signage that adorns them.

As well as 110 Medicare offices and 100 Centrelink service centres around Australia, there are six myGov shopfronts and 402 one-stop shops, which usually combine Centrelink and Medicare. There are also 574 agents and “access points” in rural and remote areas that provide access to entitlements under contract.

All are in line for a facelift, along with the department’s mobile offices and the “various showcases such as exhibition displays” and “concept offices” it constructs for conferences and other events.

The department wants “design visions” that not only cover fit-outs, layouts, furnishings, fabrics and finishes, but also “benchmarking that may include conceptual design and future-thinking”, from suppliers who can co-design prototypes in rapid design sessions at DHS hubs in Canberra and Brisbane.

The expertise DHS is seeking even extends to “optimum placement of items within the shopfront” to make sure information is presented to clients in “an innovative manner”.

Suppliers who can install and maintain new digital signage equipment also need to be able to do some “innovative” creative work for the devices, making use of “the latest digital trends” to somehow create “unique digital and online experiences” for the public.

Prospective members of the new supplier panel need to flexible due to the department’s “rapidly changing business requirements” and read up on the relatively recent Digital Service Standard produced by the Digital Transformation Office.

The Mandarin understands the Digital Transformation Office has begun working with DHS on a project to improve some aspects of the user experience of the myGov single login access portal. The department has been the lead agency for myGov ever since the big cross-agency initiative grew out of the Department of Finance’s Reliance Framework project, as it has the greatest need for the site and the most capability to keep it running.

Ever since its establishment, the government has said the DTO would “leverage myGov” to improve service delivery. The agency’s website lists a project in the early “discovery phase” that aims to make it easier for citizens to prove their identity to the government and access services online.

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