New research from Adobe and Deloitte Access Economics reveals an increased takeup of digital innovation by Australian government agencies would reap net benefits of about $20.5 billion to the nation’s economy.
“The Digital Government Transformation: Unlocking the Benefits of Digitising Customer Transactions” report, launched July 27 in Sydney, found predicted savings represents 1.3% of the annual gross domestic product, or about $880 in savings for each Australian citizen. (Note: Access to report requires short registration; Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company.)
Digital Drives Efficiency
People in Australia conduct about 800 million transactions with federal and state government agencies each year, and about 40% of these transactions are completed using conventional channels, such as phone or in person.
If this figure were reduced to 20% over a 10-year period, productivity efficiencies and other benefits to government worth about $17.9 billion would be realised, the report found. The savings–in time, convenience, and out-of-pocket costs–to citizens are worth a further $8.7 billion.
The report found that, combining the benefits to governments and citizens, the next stages of digital transformation could deliver benefits worth about four times as much as they cost.
So what is the cost in digitising 80% of government-citizen transactions? From a technology viewpoint, the cost of new ICT and transitional arrangements would be $6.1 billion, the report predicts.
What Is The Holdup?
There are six main barriers to change within government, the study pointed out. The assessment–which was based on publicly available data covering government digitisation efforts at the South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Australian Taxation Office, the Department of Human Services, the Digital Transformation Office, and Service NSW–found the main culprits were policy bottlenecks and bureaucratic inertia.
For example, the NSW government alone uses a catalog of 10,000 forms to facilitate customer transactions. The federal government’s new Digital Transformation Office was created to resolve such a situation–and to take the lead in transforming how citizens transact with government. Paul Shetler, who is in charge of this new department, comes fresh from the U.K.’s Government Digital Service.
Budget and capability constraints are also having a major impact on the willingness of government departments to embrace digital change. The report suggests designing business cases that allow agencies to offset savings against ICT investments.
Another barrier to change, according to the study, is digital exclusion and divide. Not all citizens are comfortable with new digital technologies, and not all have the capacity to use them.
The study assumed one in 10 people are not comfortable interacting online. Hence the baseline savings are built on 20% of services still being provided via “traditional” channels.
Lack of competition–that is, many of the transactions are only available through government–has also slowed digital adoption within government agencies.
Since citizens have only one place to go through which to transact with government, there has been no impetus within government to change.
The study recommends that leaders with previous experience of digital transactions, such as digital officers and managers from the private sector, should be recruited into government agencies. Greater accountability of managers to implement digitisation changes is also recommended.
What About Privacy And Security?
Government agencies deal with highly sensitive information. The very nature of their work has resulted in federal departments spending $148 million annually on paper data storage, as estimated by the National Archives of Australia.
Privacy and security issues are stopping governments from realising the full benefits of digitising customer transaction services. The study recommends a transparent assessment of privacy and security, which would form the basis of a risk-management plan that accounts for vulnerabilities.
Single-token identifiers and additional security checks of citizens, combined with establishing information-sharing arrangements between agencies, would also mitigate risks.
Retrain And Redeploy Staff
Finally, retraining government staff is also seen as vital step. Labour-related time-saving from digitizing government customer transactions can be substantial, but the government needs to consider how to redeploy people displaced by digitisation to new roles, the report said.
The paper suggests training customer service personnel to become digital customer representatives.
While governments from Singapore and Australia have been quick to embrace smart government initiatives, providing high-quality digital experiences is vital to ensuring digital is the preferred channel for citizens.
See what the Twitterverse is saying about Adobe’s Digital Marketing Symposium: