Public services are fractured, inconsistent, confusing, and ineffective at meeting policy objectives

It is very difficult to ensure overarching policy objectives are being met by New Zealand government services so long as citizens continue to be redirected back and forth between myriad applications, identity solutions, processes, websites, apps and departmental staff. This mode of operating creates a citizen experience that is inconsistent, disempowering and deeply frustrating. For government, operating this way creates service gaps, especially for vulnerable people, and lacks any end to end accountability, oversight or ability to innovate.

In this context service delivery refers to the range of transactional, referral or support services provided by government to the public eg booking a bed in a department of conservation hut or applying for a student loan. These transactional services are distinct from communications or pure information services eg Consolidated information is common for public sectors (eg however, it has not proven sufficient to deliver a cohesive, effective or consolidated service experience to citizens. The three basic models of service delivery outlined in this paper, are:

  • Fully consolidated service delivery - a single point of contact and service resolution for citizens, with full accountability for end to end citizen experience with gov.

  • Partially consolidated service delivery - a single point of contact & service resolution that extends beyond one portfolio/department, but not for whole of government.

  • Distributed service delivery - no single point of contact or service resolution, no single point of accountability for end to end user experience beyond single departments.

Service delivery relies on well defined and supported channels that the public use to seek and receive services from agencies. A “channel” necessarily involves incorporation of all aspects of service delivery from support and assistance in accessing a service, through different delivery methods (eg online or in person), along with the management, continuous improvement and holistic reporting on service performance and effectiveness. Channels are important as they are the face and experience for citizens of public services. 

There is at present no single or cross department “channel” for New Zealand Government services today. Each department runs their own channels for their own services, forcing New Zealanders to have to navigate structural, portfolio & policy complexity for even a simple service experience. 

The Service X model presents an opportunity to establish a cohesive and integrated omni-channel approach that consolidates digital and non-digital channels across portfolios, and establishes an effective whole of government service for citizens, ranging from those who can help themselves to those requiring a fully supported experience. This would deliver a path to consistent, citizen centred and scalable public services for New Zealanders. This cohesive omni-channel approach has worked extremely successfully in several jurisdictions and is worth considering for New Zealand Aotearoa.

It is also worth noting that many jurisdictions have shifted to consolidated service delivery models, including Estonia, South Korea and other leading Digital Nations. Canada and Australia are looking to greater service consolidation on the back of the success of Service NSW to provide a consistent quality of well supported and integrated services and omni-channel service delivery. This model provides a means of having a single accountable entity responsible for the experience of citizens with government services, ideally accountable to a single Minister. This model also maintains vertical portfolio accountabilities whilst enabling horizontal coordination of unified service delivery.

Service NSW provides a consolidated, seamless and user-centric experience for the people of New South Wales to interact with the services provided by the Government of NSW, Service NSW was originally modelled on Service Canada, which was established in 2005. The early business case and documentation around both initiatives recognized the need to have a consistent and common experience of government for citizens. Both examples provide lessons learned and ideas for improving service delivery in New Zealand.

A full analysis of the problem, with analysis of NZ Central Government service delivery compared to Service NSW and Service Canada is here:

Why the contribution is important

Basically, when the experience with public services is poor, or inconsistent, it has an impact on public confidence and trust overall. It also negatively impacts policy effectiveness, policy agility, and the dream of an equitable society. It is critical that public services are provided in an integrated, cohesive and consistent way, that protects and supports the dignity of all New Zealanders.

by Pia on October 18, 2021 at 03:58PM

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