Out of the silos: collaboration underpins NSW digital

Greater engagement across agencies, and between bureaucrats and the public, will drive the NSW Government’s digital strategy, officials say.

Collaboration between agencies will be a critical component of the state’s transformation of digital services says Greg Wells, the NSW Government Department of Finance, Services and Innovation’s chief information and digital officer.

Speaking to Government News after his address at the Public Sector Network’s 2018 Digital Marketplace on Thursday, Mr Wells said that the government’s future digital service delivery is all about getting agencies out of silos to improve service delivery.

“The future of Digital NSW is a future where all of the agencies work together around customer and citizen journeys,” he said.

“There’s no question that agencies do fantastic stuff within their own clusters, and I’m not saying these shouldn’t continue, but sometimes we need to bring that up a level to connect things between agencies so it makes sense for citizens.”

A key component is ensuring that communication between different services is facilitated to deliver citizen-focused services, he said.

“Where I’m really focused is bringing those journeys together and thinking about life events that are really important, whether it’s enrolling kids in school or renting a property. That’s where I want to focus the discussion and design from the Digital NSW perspective,” Mr Wells said.

“It’s about finding a common set of things we need to work together on. Sometimes we are going to have to work in our own agencies and sometimes we need to come together and make it seamless for citizens.”

Collaborating to tackle inequality

In his keynote, Mr Wells pointed to the Patchwork NSW program as an example of inter-agency collaboration to deliver improved public services.

The web platform is enabling government agencies to collaborate to provide better social services to vulnerable people. Professionals across public services can communicate on the application.

“Digital is about a way of working – we had to work out of silos and be a detective to determine how to work together. Particularly for cohorts like that, who government should really be supporting,” Mr Wells said of Patchwork NSW in his address.

Consultation with stakeholders

The conference heard that the digital.NSW accelerator in Rawson Place has seen teams across government consult and collaborate with key stakeholders affected by an issue to fast track a more informed solution.

Katarina Ruszczyk, director of digital government at DFSI, told the event that the accelerator enables government to apply technology to better understand and solve problems.

“This is new for government. As policy developers or decision makers very often we make decisions because we don’t have access to all that evidence, and the evidence is coming from the voice of customers,” she said.

A recent digital solution from the accelerator, aimed at reducing paperwork burden, will see 140,000 parents across NSW able to enrol their children in school online by the end of the year, Ms Ruszczyk said.

Big data: the solution to better services

Citizen-focused services need to be driven by data, Mr Wells said.

“Data is a really big part of it. There’s so many examples of where data can better inform not just policies but frontline decisions.”

Anna Needs, director of the Premier’s Implementation Unit of the Department of Premier and Cabinet said that real-time data that is accessible to citizens is also critical to the government’s future priorities.

“Real-time data is critical to underpin the government’s services. Data transparency is also important and data visualisation is key,” she said.

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