Wednesday, 26 November 2014 16:11

NICTA suggests radical change in way governments do business Featured


Australia’s ICT research centre of excellence NICTA has come up with a radical plan to change the way all governments at federal, state or local level, do business in the digital age.

According to NICTA government can do business differently and it says there is an increasing role for so-called ‘digital service brokers’ in the delivery of government services. It describes ‘service brokers’ as organisations or businesses that enable customers to interact with other organisations “through easy-to-use, seamless interfaces”.

The NICTA report suggesting new models for ‘digital government’ was launched in Canberra today at the FutureGov Summit by Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications.

Fletcher gave an indication that he thought the service broker model was well-worth considering as an innovative way of delivering online government services to the community.

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The report explores public case studies of brokers like the UK’s digital service, and Australian examples like Service NSW and Canberra Connect, and an innovative Australian small business, HubCareiii, as an example of an independent broker operating in the childcare and community services sector - in eight years, HubCareiii has expanded to cover 1200 early childhood services for 1.4 million customers.

According to Dr Terry Percival, ii Director of NICTA’s Broadband and Digital Economy business team, as Government embraces digital delivery channels, there is an opportunity for independent service brokers from both the private and public sectors to provide these services.

“In this age of rapidly transforming technology, we should be looking at Government as a platform, rather than a vertical. Government should be a convener and an enabler of services to customers, not necessarily the delivery person. Service brokers can step into this role.”

Dr Percival said that as well as introducing the concept of brokers to deliver government’s digital services, the report made a number of best practice recommendations.

“Governments need to take care to ensure that public trust is maintained in the introduction of service brokers through appropriate security and privacy provisions – particularly where individual data is managed.

“At the same time it needs to encourage innovation, collaboration and technological change. It’s a really important balance.”

Launching the NICTA paper, Paul Fletcher said the Abbott Government had made a clear commitment to improve the delivery of government services online, with its 'Convenient Services Anytime Anywhere' policy released at the last election.

"NICTA's paper has some fascinating ideas about the way that service brokers can help in driving the delivery of government services. In particular, the paper points out that independent or non-government service brokers can take 'wholesale' government data and make it available in a user-friendly, 'retail' form - such as a website which citizens can access, designed by the broker rather than by a government department.

“As we seek to increase the use of digital channels as a means for citizens to engage with government, it is important to be innovative and try different approaches - and the service broker model clearly offers real potential as a way to bring online government services to citizens.”

Citing the HubCareiii service as a successful broker-service delivery model, Colin Griffith, Adviser to NICTA and co-author of the paper, said Hubcare enabled parents and guardians to “easily manage their children’s services and payments, share information and receive childcare subsidies from Government.”

“As the parents are the custodians of the data they can choose to share information with other agencies as their child progresses through early childhood to the school environment and beyond.

“It also provides a very useful service for childcare agencies, enabling them to interact seamlessly with multiple government agencies. For government, Hubcare offers a useful conduit for strategic planning of services, healthy eating guidelines and real-time availability of childcare places. ”

To read the full NICTA report click here

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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