Feds’ dashboard starved of data

Denham Sadler
Senior Reporter

The federal government’s digital dashboard is still struggling with missing data and tardy reporting from departments two and a half years after it was launched.

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

Government agencies are tasked with uploading data on how digital initiatives rank against the Digital Delivery Standard, using four key metrics: user satisfaction, digital take-up, cost per transaction and completion rate.

But the dashboard has been struggling to get agencies and departments to report on their service delivery metrics and to promptly upload data for the projects that have been included.

By September last year, the Performance Dashboard had just 11 government services listed on it, with mostly outdated data.

Of these 11 projects, five of these have not had any new data uploaded in the past year. All of the projects are in beta phase, with no major service initiatives included.

The federal dashboard now lags behind similar state government schemes, with Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria all boasting digital dashboards with hundreds of projects listed, and more detailed data included.

Most of the projects listed on the federal government’s dashboard are small schemes still in beta phase.

The Australian Citizenship Appointment Booking Service, Australian Trade Mark Search, humanservices.gov.au, Import Permit Validation Service and Trade Mark Assist are listed on the dashboard but have not been updated this year.

Other projects listed have not uploaded data for all four metrics.

The Digital Marketplace dashboard does not include information on completion rate, myGov has no data on user satisfaction or cost per transaction, while humanservices.gov.au only has information on user satisfaction and none of the other metrics.

The Performance Dashboard itself is listed on the platform, but has not uploaded data on its user satisfaction because it is yet to have enough people fill out a survey after using the platform.

“Our user satisfaction figures are not yet statistically significant because of the low feedback response so far,” the dashboard said.

The Performance Dashboard has three primary goals: to increase the number of projects listed, to improve user engagement and to encourage the automated publishing of data.

There have not been any projects added to the dashboard this year, and none of the departments are uploading data automatically.

“The Performance Dashboard is being continuously improved to enable high-volume services to publish updates to their own service dashboards. The ability to enter data automatically is part of this improvement,” the DTA said.

Some of the data that has been uploaded to the service has also been less than impressive.

The ATO Community, a peer-to-peer forum for tax and super enquiries, saw a 10 per cent drop in user satisfaction to just 23 per cent of users being satisfied or very satisfied after using the service.

The Digital Marketplace, a DTA-led platform to help smaller businesses access government procurement, saw cost per transaction jump by 30 cents to $6.27, while the cost per transaction for the Hobby or Business Tool also increased in the most recently uploaded data.

The DTA said it was still working with government agencies and departments to encourage them to better report data on its IT projects.

“The DTA’s Performance Dashboard is a platform where agencies can self-report on aspects of their service delivery. The Dashboard data is provided and updated by the responsible agency and the DTA continues to promote the use of the Dashboard,” the DTA spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.

“The DTA will continue to engage with agencies to encourage them to use the Performance Dashboard as part of their suite of public reporting.”

Many state governments have similar digital dashboards that have proved to be more successful than the efforts at a federal level, with more projects listed and more useful data included.

The Victorian ICT Expenditure Dashboard includes information on all state government projects costing more than $1 million, with 276 projects now listed, and it includes data on the funding for each project.

The New South Wales dashboard has more than 100 projects listed, while the Queensland version has 150 projects reported, with information on status, allocated funding, and current funding levels.

The downsides of having a transparent dashboard were illustrated this month in Queensland though, with the Opposition using data on the dashboard to claim there has been a cost blowout in digital projects in the state.

But Queensland digital technology minister Mick de Brenni hit back at these claims, saying it was misleading and the wrong use of the dashboard. He said that Queensland’s performance dashboard is leading the way around the country.

“[It’s a] nation-leading resource for the provision of information on government ICT projects, far ahead of New South Wales and Victoria and light years ahead of the federal government’s reporting for ICT projects,” Mr de Brenni said in Parliament last week.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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