NSW steams ahead on digital policy

James Riley
Editorial Director

The NSW Government will unveil a series of landmark digital initiatives at the end of October, including the launch of its own digital authentication and transaction aggregation platform called MyServiceNSW.

The formal launch is expected from NSW Premier Mike Baird, who has been positioning the state as the national public service leader for creative citizen-centric digital services.

The launch of MyServiceNSW puts the digital Tsars from the NSW and Australian governments on a potential collision course, with both government’s working on what are effectively competing platforms.

MyServiceNSW: Cranking up a beautiful digital transaction engine

But the NSW Government – which has a more refined offering – wants to be able to offer Commonwealth transactional services to its 7.2 million citizens through its own MyServiceNSW platform.

It may be that both platforms are able to run concurrently, giving citizens a choice of trusted platforms to use to access government services across different tiers of government.

NSW Customer Service Commissioner Michael Pratt, who oversees delivery at ServiceNSW, says MyServiceNSW includes both an authentication capability as well as a transaction aggregator. He describes it as similar to MyTelstra – which lets a user see transactions for multiple phone numbers, landlines, mobiles and other services in a single view.

ServiceNSW had made some significant progress in re-engineering the actual transactions that will be served through MyServiceNSW.

With the Federal Government’s Digital Transformation Office having been moved from the Communications portfolio into Prime Minister and Cabinet, and with the NSW Government’s Customer Service Commission driving digital outcomes from the Department of Premier & Cabinet, the nation’s two largest digital programs are now being directed from the two most powerful political offices in the land.

This should create good outcomes, although it is far from certain whether the steering agencies will be able to work together – and whether the legislative and regulatory changes that would be required to enable the sharing of data across portals and across tiers of government.

It is understood Mr Pratt will meet with DTO chief executive Paul Shetler in Canberra next week to discuss what suitable working arrangements can be put in place to leverage both governments’ digital efforts.

Mr Pratt says MyServiceNSW will be launched as “a working prototype” under the start small, grow quickly mantra, with additional features and transactional services quickly added. The service will start with loading Roads and Maritime Services identity capability, and then adding registration, licencing, fines details and the like.

The group has built a payments capability for MyServiceNSW that will be launched in November. It will provide a “pay now” capability and will mean the NSW Government will end up with one payments capability at the back across the whole of government.

Mr Pratt said NSW is working on high volume transactions now “that will definitely have citizen support” – especially around common financial transactions like Opal card top-ups, or checking balances, or toll payments.

It is understood the Premier has named the NSW Government’s first Digital Council – chaired by the State’s Customer Service Commissioner Michael Pratt – which will be made public at the end of the month. It is a whole of government committee of deputy secretary-level digital instigators, with a private sector members who can provide outside perspective.

“What we want from this is to get some really good external perspective as well,” he said.

It is a model he says has worked well in the NSW Government’s Customer Advisory Board that he chairs.

That board includes senior public servants like Finance secretary Martin Hoffman, Education secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter, and Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Blair Comley. But it also boasts a significant private sector presence with technology interests like Microsoft Australia CEO Pip Marlow, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti, and KPMG Partner Dharma Chandran.

Mr Pratt, who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the Western Sydney University, had a long and senior career in the banking sector that he brings to his role. He brought significant digital expertise from the banks – teams who helped drive millions of customers into internet banking regimes – into the public sector to develop similar, customer or citizen centric services.
His goal is to offer Commonwealth services, as well as NSW State and local government services through the MyServiceNSW platform.

“The point I am trying to make with the Feds is that 7.2 million of our [NSW} citizens are also your citizens. So that once a person is authenticated, they can be customers of [State Government services] as well as customers of [federal] services like Centrelink or Medicare,” Mr Pratt said.

“We have that transaction aggregation capability, so why shouldn’t that include Federal transaction,” he said. “Most citizens frankly wouldn’t know or care what level of government provides a particular service.”
“So that’s the current discussion we are having [with the Commonwealth].”

The next major stage of the work for MyServiceNSW will be in business-government transactions – re-engineering processes to strip friction out of the relationship.

“There is a huge opportunity here, because the benefits that get delivered feed directly back into the economy,” Mr Pratt said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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