Australians ‘in the dark’ on Government digital initiatives

Australian governments at all levels are strongly pushing the digital delivery of their services. But new research shows that their efforts have yet to make a major impact on most citizens, many of whom still regard governments as digital laggards.

A report from digital transaction company DocuSign has found that many Australian consumers are unaware of or unimpressed with government digital initiatives. The report is based on a survey of 1000 consumers and more than 100 senior decision makers in government and the private sector.

“The Australian government has gone on record to state its commitment to transforming the effectiveness of public services through the introduction of new technology,” says the report.

“On the face of it, this appears to be a positive digital outlook for the public sector, and Australians are very decided about the benefits that technology can bring, including faster engagement. Most, though, are still in the dark when it comes to the government’s digital plans.”

The survey found that half (51 percent) of Australians are unclear on how the government is spending tax payers’ money on digitisation. Only 11 percent have noticed new digital services from government affecting their personal or working lives to date. “In contrast, 61 percent of people are still compelled to print, scan and post documents when transacting with government organisations.”

The lack of perceived impact is particularly prevalent for the older people, with those over the age of 45 significantly more likely to have little idea about how the government is investing in digital. “Even more concerning, 54 percent of senior business decision makers feel the Australian government can do more with the money it has committed to digital initiatives. And 62 percent of those in senior business roles believe government should think like a business to enhance the services provides.”

The report says its findings indicate that there is a major opportunity for governments to align with the Australian public and better communicate the benefits of the government digital innovation. It says the data means Australian governments have an opportunity to clarify their digital strategies.

“From department to department, at organisations operating in every industry and in government, the motivation behind making digital changes is the same – to deliver a superior customer service. As part of this intense race to stay ahead of the competition, inevitably, individual teams within an organisation will be keen to take matters into their own hands and find solutions to the specific challenges that they face. How organisations manage the responsibility for making digital changes will be central to their success.

“These results are not to suggest progress has not been made. Instead, they demonstrate a voracious appetite for more convenient digital services and the urgency at which consumers want them delivered. They also illustrate an opportunity for government to clarify its strategy and communicate the impending benefits of its transformation agenda.”

Some other findings from the report, not specific to government:

  • Given the opportunity, 55 percent of consumers would rather communicate with a business or government agency digitally. Only 13 percent would prefer to stick with paper.
  • The great majority (85 percent) of consumers want organisations to offer digital methods of signing agreements and purchasing products and services
  • Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of customers have experienced problems in completing a transaction over the last 12 months because of issues linked to paper and manual processes.
  • Nearly all (94 percent) business decision makers feel their organisation could be doing more with digital.

The report is available here.


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