Digital splash fails to reap savings: report

An investment by state and federal governments in digital services has failed to reap $17.9 billion in forecast savings while legacy infrastructure is wasting hours of citizens’ time each year, a new report has found.

The report, which surveyed the government’s digital performance, found that most services are still lagging on the digital front, resulting in Australians losing around eight hours a year in filling out paperwork or standing in queues.

The Rethinking the Digital Dividend report, released by Deloitte and Adobe on Thursday, surveyed Australian government services and found that a forecast $17.9 billion in potential savings from the digitisation of services projected in a 2015 Deloitte report have failed to come to fruition.

Despite the share of digital transactions rising from 60 to 74 per cent over the past four years, the government has missed the mark when it comes to cost savings, with just some agencies achieving savings on individual initiatives.

“Overall governments have struggled to realise the full benefits (of digital services),” the report said.

The failure to reap savings could be attributed to the fact that the number of ICT-related roles in government increased by 2.8 per cent, resulting in a steep increase in costs, the report says.

John Mackenney

“There hasn’t been a lot of digital dividend. The news is fairly sobering,” John Mackenney, Adobe Principal Digital Strategist told reporters on Thursday.

Despite the growth of digital platforms, Australians still spend quite a large amount of time in traditional transactions, Mr Mackenney said, and while levels of employees in traditional roles has fallen, this hasn’t been by much.

“Estimates of transactions through traditional channels such as shopfronts, call centres and mail rooms are as high as four years ago,” according to the report.

Legacy infrastructure and the siloed nature of a lot of digital services is also preventing the full benefits of digitisation being realised, Mr Mackenney said.

“The government today are struggling with a single view of citizen,” he said. “Unfortunately because of the silos within government agencies this is not always intuitive.”

Despite the government’s failure to reap projected cost savings, government agencies have noted some benefits from digital services, the report says, with improved citizen engagement, better management of the customer journey and improved quality of service delivery being the top benefits.

Citizen’s time wasted

Legacy government technology and outdated services are wasting hours of citizen’s time, the report also found.

John O’Mahoney

For most Australians, time wasted in queues and filling out paperwork amounts to around eight hours a year, the report says.

In regional areas, this figure is substantially worse, with 14 hours a year spent accessing legacy government services due to a lack of digitisation.

Governments should be looking to expand digital services, John O’Mahony, Deloitte Access Economics Partner told a media conference on Thursday, as positive digital services can improve customer trust in government.

This is critical, given trust in government has declined from 49 per cent in 2015 to 49 per cent this year.

“Positive citizen experiences can lead to greater trust in government,” he said.

The report proposes six steps towards digital transformation.

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