If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then the New South Wales’ Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello must be feeling pretty flattered right about now.
With the Coalition’s re-election, the Prime Minister has committed to remodeling Commonwealth service delivery on the structures developed by the NSW public service.
In naming his second ministry, Scott Morrison pledged that the federal government would establish a Services Australia organisation to “improve service delivery for all Australians” modeled on Service NSW agency.
Just how precise the Commonwealth intends copying Service NSW – and just how flattered Victor Dominello should feel – will not be known until Administrative Arrangements Orders are published, which is expected this week.
Mr Morrison says he wants the bureaucracy to make “better use of technology and better integrating [of] service delivery across portfolios. The goal is to make it easier to deal with services that Australians rely on.”
Services Australia would be built on the Human Services portfolio and run as a part of the newly-appointed Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert as a Cabinet-level position.
Mr Dominello has welcomed the federal government’s announcement and congratulated the Prime Minister on the planned reform.
“It’s great news for the people of NSW and more broadly Australia. We’ve seen through Service NSW that it was a difficult reform,” Mr Dominello told InnovationAus.com.
“Eight years ago, when we first spoke of the idea [of Service NSW], there were a lot of naysayers saying it just couldn’t work and would not happen. Eight years on it and it has evolved. If the federal government can do a form of it with Services Australia, then that’s only good news.”
Mr Dominello cautioned the task ahead for the federal government would not be easy.
“Let’s be honest, if this reform was easy it would’ve been done right across the world, many years ago. But the reason it hasn’t been done is because it’s very difficult,” he said.
“I am proud to say the NSW government embarked on this difficult reform, and we’ve landed – to the great benefit of the people of our state.”
Mr Dominello’s quiet advice to the federal government is to prioritise culture change as part of initial steps, because it’s the “hardest thing to do in any organisation and government is no different.”
“If we change the culture to make sure we are focused on delivering the best service possible to the people of our state, then that permeates right through the organisation in terms of design delivery,” he said.
Mr Dominello added that governments must put citizens’ needs first.
“If you put the people first, then you always get better outcomes. In government there’s a tendency to put the agencies first, rather than have a citizen or customer focus.
“That’s where we really rejigged things here in NSW, particularly when people of our state and people of Australia are dealing with multiple agencies, across multiple governments, across any given time. We have got to make that journey much better.”
Mr Dominello is committed to working closely with Stuart Robert to assist the federal government through the reform, revealing preliminary conversations about how to “harmonise the citizen experience” across all levels of government have already taken place.
“The idea is to do some initial pilots between the Commonwealth and NSW to secure some quick wins for our respective communities,” he said.
Mr Robert has also been named as Minister for NDIS, giving him responsibility for delivering the challenging National Disability Insurance Scheme.
His appointment replaces the former Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan, who retired at the election and had been a member of the outer ministry.
Details of what government services will fall within Services Australia remains scarce. It’s therefore unclear, for example, what the immediate impact will be on the Digital Transformation Agency. But it’s certain there will be some significant government changes to come.