As we get closer to Transform 17, one of the things we can say we were especially pleased about with our first Transform conference in Canberra last year was the variety of perspectives presented. We had speakers from the USA, the UK, Australia national, New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory – and our close international neighbour New Zealand.
Darryl Carpenter from the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs’ Better Public Services Programme gave an overview of how the NZ digital transformation was proceeding, with some significant points of similarity and difference to approaches used in Australia and elsewhere.
Better Public Services for New Zealand
Darryl Carpenter: DIA, NZ
The New Zealand government committed to a program called Better Public Services that included meeting 10 specific targets across five result areas.
Result 10, in the area of “Improving interaction with government”, is “New Zealanders can complete their transactions with government easily in a digital environment”.
In addition, the government also committed to a large scale ICT review, providing the opportunity to take advantage of new technologies.
The ICT Review in turn brought together all the top departmental and agency executives, who could then also consider the BPS objectives in context.
The stability of a long term federal government was important in undertaking transformation.
“Life is about events in people’s lives, not the agencies they interact with.”
The number of government agencies with which people have to interact causes great frustration.
That frustration is worsened when people’s information changes, as it does through life, and they have to repeat the changed information to every agency with which they deal.
A centrally led but collaboratively delivered approach may or may not be better than a centrally led, centrally delivered approach to transformation.
In the rush to be agile, attention should be paid to the structure and formalisation that goes with being a government agency.
He aha te mea nui, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata (Maori for “And the most important thing is the people, the people, the people”).
“Surround yourself with brilliance, and get out of the way.”
Political will was required to make this want to happen, and cross-agency support was needed to implement it.
The challenge remains to broaden the scope of Result 10.
Government leaders and managers may drive a transformation process that changes their own jobs, and that can be a challenge.
Funding remains an issue.