LGAs and digital maturity – a mixed bag

Digital Maturity Index (Strategy)

Less than half Australasia’s local government authorities have implemented a formal strategy for the digital delivery of services to the public. Even fewer have a strategy for their internal customers – council employees.

This is despite most LGAs agreeing that digital is the way of the future.

The results are contained in the new Local Government Digital Maturity Index, researched by Government News and sponsored by Australian information and process governance software company Objective.

The Index is divided into four categories, representing different aspects of transitioning to digital local government.

The first category is strategy and policy, which looks at the plans and programs LGAs have in place for digital transformation.

The other areas are: external customer services (customer-facing digital systems), internal processes (the extent to which staff can interact digitally with each other), and  performance metrics and standards (the extent to which are measuring progress and implementing industry best-practice).

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.

The results of the survey show that while many LGAs are developing a strategic approach to digital transformation, most have not. More than three quarters (80 percent) do not have a policy for sharing digital information with external parties (such as other LGAs, service providers or the public), and almost as many (70 percent) do not have a digital strategy for building, planning and development activities.

“Most digital initiatives are still in the planning stages and transformation activities are generally uncoordinated.,” says the report’s leading author, Government News editor Graeme Philipson. “Less than half have appointed a dedicated officer responsible for digital initiatives, and comparatively few provide staff training to develop digital capability.”

He says that the implementation of digital strategy for external customer service initiatives is a positive sign, but that the internal strategy to support these initiatives is in many cases still very immature, if it exists at all.

“All levels of government are under pressure to deliver new and better services, with the same or reduced levels of funding and staffing. This is particularly true in local government.

“Digital transformation opens up the potential for significant efficiency gains and allows for resource reallocation to areas and tasks that add more value for LGAs.

“But there are encouraging signs. While 90 percent of respondents acknowledge that digital is the way of the future, 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 LGA employees.

“LGAs that clearly articulate their goals and the anticipated benefits of digital technology for the organisation, staff and members of the community will lead the way. Internal infrastructure and systems are key to a successful digital transformation, but equally important is to ensure that staff are on board for the digital journey.

“As LGAs progressively transform their more complex customer services – such as development applications, commercial registrations and licenses – they will realise the benefits of lower costs, time savings and improved community outcomes.”

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

Download the report here.

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