Denham Sadler
September 17, 2018

A dashboard with little digital data

Digital

A dashboard with little digital data

Performance issue: The digital dashboard has struggled to attract ministerial support

Government agencies are failing to upload data to the Digital Transformation Agency’s digital dashboard and many are not providing any information at all, hampering efforts to improve transparency and performance.

The Digital Transformation Agency launched the Performance Dashboard in late 2016 to promote “government transparency and help drive the ongoing improvement of government services”.

The online platform lets agencies upload data on how its digital initiatives are measuring against the Digital Delivery Standard. This is based on four key metrics: user satisfaction, digital take-up, cost per transaction and completion rate.

The measurement of government digital service delivery against this basic set of KPIs – and making the results publicly accessible – had been a Coalition 2016 election commitment.

But more than two years since its launch, only 11 government services are listed on the platform, with a large amount of the data being up to a year old, and some not uploaded at all. The relevant agencies are responsible for uploading data on the projects to the dashboard.

It is understood that agencies in Australia are concerned about uploading data that reflects poorly on their services, and have little motivation to do so when so few initiatives are featured on the dashboard.

It is believed there has also been little ministerial support within portfolios in encouraging agencies to report the data.

The dashboard is another example of a failing government digital project, according to shadow digital economy minister Ed Husic.

“We’ve watched digital project after project derail, blow over budget or fail completely. We now have the government’s own Performance Dashboard confirming the government’s digital incompetence,” Mr Husic told InnovationAus.com.

“The government’s Performance Dashboards show terrible user satisfaction levels, digital uptake is falling or stalling and many of the service reports are not even being updated," Mr Husic said.

"They need to explain what’s going on, after all it was this government that was calling for transparency and performance markers.”

Among the programs listed on the dashboard is the Hobby or Business Tool Dashboard, which was lasted updated in August last year, the Important Permit Validation Service Dashboard, which was last updated in April last year and the Australian Citizenship Appointment Booking Service Dashboard, which was last updated in March last year.

MyGov.au is listed on the Performance Dashboard, but no data has been uploaded on it.

The humanservices.gov.au website is also listed on the dashboard, but has provided no data on digital take-up or completion rate.

The agency said that there is no data on digital take-up as it is “trying to determine the best way to measure take up of a redesigned information service”, and promised to provide information on completion rates by the second quarter of this year, but is yet to do so.

The Performance Dashboard itself is listed on the platform but has not provided data on user satisfaction due to a lack of responses. About 900 people are visiting the dashboard each month, but only one person responded in December and January to a feedback survey.

“We are determining the best way to encourage more feedback from our users,” the agency said.

Many of the initiatives listed on the dashboard have not included data on its cost per transaction.

In a blog post early last year, DTA engagement lead James Broadbent said the organisation had been actively working with agencies to help them measure their cost per transaction.

The initiative is based on a similar platform in the UK, which has 781 services listed, while the Australian government’s Performance Dashboard currently lists just 11 services.

InnovationAus.com understands that the dashboard is still in a beta phase, and the DTA is working with agencies to encourage them to upload more and better data to the platform.

“The DTA is passionate about making data open and accessible We work together with agencies to support their data updates and to onboard more services to the Performance Dashboard,” a DTA spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.

Digital Transformation Minister Michael Keenan’s office declined to comment on the performance of the dashboard, and referred queries to the DTA.

The Performance Dashboard was launched under the previous Digital Transformation Office and is based on the successful Performance dashboard in the UK.

But the Australian government has been unable to garner the necessary support and commitment from departments and agencies to gain the data needed for the platform to be successful.

The UK dashboard was launched in early 2014 as an “automated, accessible and actionable tool to give service managers and other users the information they need to make public services better”.

In the UK, for a project to pass the digital service standard it must provide data to the dashboard, but this is not a rule in Australia.

The UK platform launched with hundreds of services already listed on it, avoiding any agencies being worried about being early adopters and attracting unwanted criticism for poor results.

Some of the data that has been uploaded to the platform has also proved troubling, with the ATO Community platform posting user satisfaction of just 43.8 per cent and digital take-up of 16.2 per cent, down by more than 18 per cent.

The ATO Community platform provides “peer-to-peer support for tax and super enquiries in an open, online and moderated environment”.

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