“In any given month, one in eight Australians aged 14 and over will look up government information and services online, totalling around 324 million transactions a year. Of these people, more than half will experience a problem.” So  says Dan Pulham, Head of Delivery at the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), explaining why the DTO was created “to work closely with government agencies, users and private sector partners to create public services that are simpler, clearer and faster.”

The DTO’s Digital Service Standard provides The Criteria for  Government agencies, ranging from 1. Understand user needs to 13.Encourage everyone to use the digital service. While written for federal Government agencies, the  Digital Service Standard has good advice for any organisation seeking to embrace digital transformation.

Sadly, many Australians will be unable to benefit from the DTO’s improvements. “ In 2016, almost three million Australians are not online, and are at risk of missing out on the advantages and assistance that digital technology can offer.” This is one of the findings in Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2016, which is the outcome of a collaborative  partnership between University of Technology researchers, Telstra, and Roy Morgan Research. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) gives the National Picture, then looks at each State, also providing a range of Case Studies.  The Index looks at three key dimensions of digital inclusion, Access, Affordability, and Digital Ability, giving insights on addressing the needs of particular Communities, e.g. “Australians aged 65+ are the nation’s least digitally included group (on 41.6, or 12.9 points below the  national average).”

Advice  from the Mandarins

Digital transformation was a hot topic in Canberra during August, with a range of strategic advice from  the public service mandarins.  A  24.08.2016 article in The Mandarin by Dan Wood, Stop measuring processes and start measuring outcomes,  warns that “Agency annual reports are filled with output metrics that give weight to the lie that government is a self-licking ice cream cone. Timid government services, without aspiration to improve quality, risk being outsourced.” The author advises governments to  “set some goals that they have no idea how to meet, and unleash the creativity of the public sector in an attempt to get as close as possible to those goals”, noting that in 2006 the Indian Ministry of External Affairs did just that. “They announced they would streamline their passport system and set a limit on the length of time that Indian citizens waited for passports. They did so without having a solution in place to meet this goal….They worked out a way to achieve their goal and in doing so made passports much more accessible to 1.2 billion people.”

Other August digital transformation articles in The Mandarin include :

Building diverse executive teams: public service leaders share strategies by David Reynolds 19.08.2016, in which “Three leaders share their insights on which old models don’t work anymore and why diversity and inclusion are not synonymous.”  Advice includes:

” The key is employ people which reflect the organisation’s customer or client base .”

“The difference in the current approach is two-fold. There is a clear movement away from a one-size-fits-all approach with unique needs of agencies being taken into account.  The second paradigm shift is the recognition that diversity and inclusivity are equally important.”

For NSW, the first step is to  create a talent management pipeline to see what is achievable and what is required to maintain the desired state. ““It’s clear the old models of recruiting through long essays don’t produce success …”

Another Mandarin article, from Nicholas Gruen & Chris Vanstone, 19.08.2016, Competition as a means to an end: a supply chain needs a brain,  looks at both why and how a government supply chain to deliver human services must understand and optimise its own impact.  This is Part Two of an Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into competition in human services.  Part One covered  Competition as a means to an end: supply chains and human services. TACSInotes that “Every year billions of dollars are spent on social services and cycles of reform, yet we see limited impact for those who need it most.”


Maybe the public service Mandarins could learn from the proverbs of the original Chinese Mandarins, e.g.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand” and

“Be humble enough to consult one’s inferiors”