Government dashboards go live as DTO celebrates its first year

By Stephen Easton

July 29, 2016

The Digital Transformation Office says transparency and better service delivery are the aims of its new performance dashboard system, which displays live info-graphics about how government initiatives are going.

The DTO has released a “working alpha” prototype of the system, with dashboards for three projects: the improved citizenship test booking system it developed with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection; myGov; and a Tax Office tool to help people decide if an income-generating activity is a business or hobby.

The facts and figures available right now are minimal but the prototypes serve to demonstrate the simple concept; the value of the dashboards will depend on what data is allowed to flow into them over time. Users can watch the statistics instantly change as they select different months by holding the mouse over them.

The prototype’s landing page says the graphics show how well the various services measure up to the 13-point Digital Service Standard, but it’s not clear how at this stage. Nearly all the data displayed by the alpha is basic audience analytics, which gives some sense of how popular the service is and how people access it, but doesn’t link directly to the specific requirements of the DSS.

Two of the dashboards have a space for user satisfaction — although only one had data to display at the time of writing — and the one for the online citizenship test booking system shows the “completion rate” which refers to how many people used the service without calling the agency for assistance.

A third prototype dashboard for myGov, which hasn’t yet been through the DSS transformation process, also provides statistics about user activity: how many Australians have signed up, what services they have linked to their myGov account, which they use the most and what kinds of browsers and devices they use.

To pick just a few of the 13 points of the DSS, the prototype dashboards don’t rate the digital services on how secure and accessible they are, how well they “understand user needs” or whether they make use of “open standards and common platforms” and methods of design that are “consistent and responsive” to users.

As the dashboard system moves to the beta stage, more data will be available, which could make the claim that it measures services “against the Digital Service Standard” a little more accurate.

Yesterday, DTO chief Paul Shetler blogged about how “it became clear very quickly that the expectations on this agency were really, really high” on the occasion of its one-year anniversary.

As noteworthy achievements, he lists the creation of the DSS and the new dashboards along with the establishment of delivery hubs in Canberra and Sydney, a partnership with the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Services, where he used to work and which the DTO is modelled on, as well as groundwork on new communities of practice for service design and content design. He says the agency has had public impact in four areas:

  • The Department of Human Services has improved the Medicare enrolment process.
  • The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has created an online citizenship appointment booking service, and introduced digital permits to simplify the process of importing goods.
  • The ACT Government has made it easier to book outpatient appointments.
  • The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has made it easier to start a business.

Shetler also lists the prototype of and early work on, which is not live yet but scheduled to appear as a “self-service alpha” later this year, as well as a “completed alpha” of a Digital Marketplace. But that won’t be seen until later this year either, so some observers might quibble over how completed it really is. He adds:

“It’s been a busy 12 months. It hasn’t always been easy. It’s also important to remember that we aren’t doing this alone. We’re working in partnership with departments and agencies across government to get there.”

As all good salespeople know, it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around, but there is a growing sense that Shetler and the DTO haven’t been afforded that opportunity by those who’ve been doing the selling.

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