Shetler on NSW’ digital ambitions

James Riley
Editorial Director

The creation in New South Wales of a Department of Customer Service with the centralisation of functions of data analytics and service delivery is the most ambitious digital transformation structure of any government in the world today, according to former Commonwealth digital tsar Paul Shetler.

In a sweeping restructure of government unveiled last week, Premier Gladys Berejiklian appointed former Finance minister Victor Dominello as the state’s first Minister for Customer Service.

The new ministry brings together much of the delivery functions of the former department of finance, services and innovation (DFSI) – including ServiceNSW and whole-of-government responsibility for IT and digital – as well as the Digital Analytics Centre from Treasury, and the Office of the Customer Service Commissioner and the Behavioural Insights unit from Premier and Cabinet.

Mr Shetler, who was the chief executive of the Digital Transformation Office and Australian Government chief digital officer, says NSW is being extremely ambitious about its transformation program, and had designed a “practical plan for getting there.”

“Basically what you’ve got now is DFSI, which has now been heavily focused on digital service delivery,” Mr Shetler said. “It retains ServiceNSW, but has been given an awful lot more firepower in terms of measuring and in terms of directing, which I think was lacking in both cases before.”

“It’s just an incredibly focused change, and is really good to see,” he said.
In this podcast, Mr Shetler – who is the founder of AccelerateHQ, a consulting and delivery company – reviews the restructure and assesses the strategy behind it.

By bringing the DAC, the customer service commissioner and ServiceNSW under the same roof creates an incredibly powerful agency.

“Now they have the ability to deliver the services, they have the ability to specify how well the service should be delivered, and they have the ability to measure it – ‘are we delivering the service at that level’,” Mr Shetler said.

“Putting those three things together … I can’t think of any other government [anywhere in the world] that has done that.”

Paul Shelter: NSW is leading the world in the ambition of its digital transformation program

NSW was an especially interesting case study in public sector digital delivery. It has a large population, is geographically spread out, and had a complex economy across many different industries.

“The digital transformation in NSW is challenging, but they also have an extremely ambitious – but I think quite practical plan – for getting there,” Mr Shetler said. “Which again I think is world first.”

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