LGAs only halfway there on digital

The new ANZ Local Government Digital Maturity Index (DMI) contains a number of interesting findings. One of the most intriguing is the fact that most Local Government Authorities do a reasonable job at delivering services digitally, but that behind-the-scenes there are still many manual processes.

The DMI contains four sub-indexes. One of these looks at external customer services – the extent to which ratepayers and other external stakeholders can interact digitally with the LGA. Another looks at internal processes and operations – in-house systems and the extent to which staff can interact digitally with each other.

External rates are 62.1 out of 100, while internal rates 57.8. The ratings are determined by responses to a number of questions in the DMI benchmarking survey. Further analysis shows the differences by region and size of LGA.

The Digital Maturity Index is based on a survey of over 100 LGA is in Australia and New Zealand, enabling detailed analysis and comparison of the various components of digital transformation. It was researched by Government News and sponsored by Australian information and process management software company Objective.

Overall, larger councils do better than smaller ones, though mid-sized regional LGAs out point their suburban rivals. There are many reasons for the disparity, most importantly a lack of resources in smaller LGAs.

External, or customer facing, digital initiatives include Internet access in libraries (provided by over 90 percent of LGAs) and a social media presence (nearly 90 percent have a Facebook page and nearly 80 percent use Twitter).

Most provide Wi-Fi for the public, but only half have a self-service website and less than a third their own mobile phone app. More than two-thirds allow council rates to be paid online.

Customer facing services need to be supported by digital technology within the LGA. Most do not do quite so well here. Fully 85 percent of LGAs say they have too many paper forms, and over two thirds is manual processes to manage such functions as HR and procurement.

Although 78 percent use Electronic Document Management (EDM) technology, only half have automated their document driven workflows.

“Most LGAs can do better,” says Graeme Philipson, Government News editor and lead author of the report. “These findings highlight that councils have not taken advantage of digital tools for internal use with limited application of technology to support greater sharing of information internally, across functions within the LGA, and with external stakeholders.

“Digital transformation across most of local government is still in the early stages and there is a strong desire for progress with 90 percent of respondents acknowledging that digital is the way of the future.

“Yet only 20 percent believe their LGA is doing enough to transition towards digital ways of working. This is a major disconnect, but also highlights the opportunity for LGAs to address the areas that are, ultimately, preventing the best digital experience for both citizens and workers.”

Government News will publish more findings from the DMI benchmarking survey over the coming weeks.

Download the report here.

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