Service NSW stands by benefits for customers, disputes Audit Office

By Mike Pratt & Rachna Gandhi

Friday February 26, 2016

The Mandarin recently reported on the Audit Office of NSW performance audit review of Service NSW (“Audit takes the shine off Service NSW project, February 22″).

The main finding of the Audit Office report was in regard to the need for clarity of ownership regarding internal “whole-of-government” benefits arising from the Service NSW initiative, and the Commissioner and Service NSW support the need for a robust whole of government benefits realisation framework that complements the existing benefits framework that is used by Service NSW. However, the Audit Report contained many comments which required clarification for completeness and balance.

“The implementation approach has been rigorously controlled by established governance…”

The reference to funding in the Audit Office report is misleading. The inference that an amount of $969.8 million allocated to the Service NSW initiative was new money is simply incorrect. Of the recurrent funding amount of $736 million, approximately 83% ($610 million) was transferred from Roads and Maritime Services out of existing and committed recurrent funding to deliver the services that Service NSW is acquiring from RMS in the period to June 30, 2017.

The inference that the committed funding for the cost of recurring frontline services is an incremental cost of the Service NSW initiative is misleading.

The capital expenditure of $234 million was predominantly for essential upgrade of the RMS registry network, which had not been updated in a number of years, and the systems to facilitate the transition to greater digitisation.

The Audit Office did not adequately distinguish between two distinctly separate business cases; the second business case being the approved set of deliverables that have governed the implementation of the Service NSW initiative to date. The commentary in the Audit Report around the implementation, reporting, governance, and funding treated the two business cases as though they were being delivered as one sequential program of works which is incorrect. The first business case was not progressed.

Any suggestion that Service NSW made changes to approved deliverables, benefits, costs and performance indicators without appropriate documentation is also incorrect. The implementation approach has been rigorously controlled by the established governance processes in place including regular and ongoing engagement with relevant stakeholders.

Service NSW has a Benefits Realisation Framework that has been supported by appropriate stakeholders and the program sponsors. The benefits of the Service NSW program are always expected to be achieved in future years following the establishment of the network and greater citizen adoption of services.

“An overwhelming 96% of customers say it was a better service experience.”

Service NSW measures customer satisfaction based on feedback from customers. In the initial design of its customer feedback survey approach one of the measures used by Service NSW in its first year of operations was a question that asked “Did you find this visit a better experience than previous service?” Over 200,000 customers responded to this question with an overwhelming 96% of these customers saying it was a better service experience than before.

On a cumulative basis, Service NSW has to date received more than 30 million customer visits since launch with an unchanged customer satisfaction score of around 98%, which is measured in real time and provided as live data to
Service NSW management and other key stakeholders. The key technology enablers, such as the payments platform, are on-track to drive digital transaction capability across a broader range of NSW Government agencies.

There are now 51 Service Centres across the State with more to be rolled out, nine digital stores, and one 24/7 phone number, 13 77 88. In addition, there is extensive web transactional capability including the recent launch of MyServiceNSW which will become the central digital offering for Government to deliver transactional services to citizens on their mobile.

Noting the progress to date, Service NSW is still in the early stages of a long term customer transformation journey which will positively impact the majority of NSW citizens, businesses, and government agencies. And the feedback to date from the citizens has been overwhelmingly positive.

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