Dominello lifts the lid off NSW's data-driven Digital Government Strategy

The New South Wales government has launched its Digital Government Strategy that starts like any digital transformation project in 2017, with internal cultural change front of mind.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

New South Wales Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello has unveiled the state's Digital Government Strategy, touted as a bold vision for transformation across the NSW public sector.

Speaking at the launch of the strategy ahead of CeBIT Australia in Sydney on Tuesday morning, Dominello said the state government needs to make sure that it's operating on two sides of the same coin, noting that starts with change from the inside.

"Public servants are there to serve the public," the minister said, pointing to initiatives such as Service NSW.

He said if that type of service is maintained and injected into everything else the government does, his strategy will be a success.

"The strategy represents a bold vision for ICT reform and cultural change within the NSW government," Dominelllo explained.

The three-faceted strategy is focused on customer experience, the government being digital on the inside, and is brought together through the use of data.

With those three agenda items, the strategy [PDF] is aiming to improve the lives of the people of NSW by designing policies and services that are "smart, simple, and seamless".

"This is not just an upgrade; this strategy provides the backbone for the delivery of next level, improved, user-centric services," he said. "It will ensure that the NSW government is connected, customer-focused and outcomes driven."

Priorities under the digital roadmap, where customer experience is concerned, includes experimenting with technologies such as artificial intelligence to enhance service accessibility, as well as sending more transactional services to Service NSW and being mobile first with its customer-facing services.

The state government will also simplify its processes and introduce bots and other automation technologies to its internal practices, as well as adopt an agile methodology to project delivery.

"There is a significant opportunity to redesign our services, from a customer perspective focused on digital. Redesigning services is more than just increasing the number of services available online," the strategy document explains.

Dominello is also "sworn to secrecy" on whether the upcoming NSW Budget will inject funds into the strategy.

Earlier this year, Dominello revealed plans to bring his data-driven expertise to his new portfolio, hoping to reward government agencies with an "innovation bonus" if they move away from a silo-ridden approach to IT and service delivery in a bid to link state money to data-driven initiatives, and start to see some "profound insight".

He also made it clear he sees any data point as an opportunity.

The minister also briefly mentioned on Tuesday that following his speech in Sydney, he will be on his way to Parliament to introduce a Bill that would make data-driven initiatives within government easier to do. While tight-lipped on the specifics of the Bill, he did say it is a stripped-back version of where he would like to see it and that he was "setting the pace for bigger reform later on".

During his tenure as the state's Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Dominello launched a handful of data-driven initiatives, born out of the NSW Data Analytics Centre (DAC) that he first announced in 2015 as the benchmark for driving change within government departments.

Since then, Dominello introduced a Bill that requires each of the agencies and state-owned amenities to give his department their data within 14 days; appointed an advisory board charged with overseeing how the state government uses that data; and announced the addition of a chief information and digital officer to drive the government's digital agenda.

The data-driven initiatives Dominello and the DAC have launched include: Fuel Check, a smartphone app that provides citizens with real-time updates on petrol prices across the state; an initiative tackling slumlords taking advantage of international students who are often unsure of their rights; and a project to gain better transparency over who lives where and with whom in the state's densely populated south Sydney area.

As the Innovation Minister, Dominello also unveiled the state's innovation strategy which included the launch of the NSW Innovation Concierge, aimed at being the "front door" for entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs looking to do business with the government; the Ministerial Innovation Committee that will oversee the implementation of the innovation strategy; the Innovation Launch program designed to provide entrepreneurs with seed funding of AU$150,000 to incubate and launch ideas; in addition to a handful of initiatives such as a regulatory sandbox for startups to test ideas before sending them into the market.

Dominello's successor, Minister for Innovation Matt Kean, kicked off the hunt on Monday for a handful of startups to send to Tel Aviv, Israel, as part of the federal government's Startup Landing Pad initiative.

Touted by the Australian government as giving entrepreneurs assistance to commercialise their products and services through access to the expertise, infrastructure, innovation, and marketing networks of local partners, the AU$11 million initiative sees landing pads active in Silicon Valley, Shanghai, Berlin, and Singapore, in addition to Tel Aviv.

With 41 percent of startups in Australia calling NSW home, the minister expects Tel Aviv's ecosystem of entrepreneurs offers the state's startups great opportunities.

"The chance for some of our most innovative startups to take their business models to Tel Aviv is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Kean said in a statement. "Tel Aviv is where the action is, so the knowledge successful startups bring home to NSW will be invaluable to their businesses and the local ecosystem."

The multi-million cash injection has been given to Austrade to execute the landing pads and forms part of the government's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda.

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