Services Australia has six weeks to work out what exactly it's meant to do

Canberra appoints Australian media and technology executive cum public servant the task of setting the strategic plan for Services Australia.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Australia's Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert wants to make the experience of dealing with government similar to that of online banking or shopping.

The newly minted minister has given Services Australia, previously known as the Department of Human Services, six weeks to work out exactly how it is going to do that.

Robert, who in October was found to have spent 20 times more than other MPs on his home internet, clocking up more than AU$2,000 a month and blaming "connectivity issues" for the high costs, assumed responsibility for Services Australia in late May, following machinery of government changes announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison after his election win.

Services Australia, mapped on the New South Wales initiative Service NSW, is aimed at "lifting and improving service delivery for all Australians".

See also: No more clerk with a rubber stamp: Service NSW touts its people as key to its success

Robert on Monday said the new department will soon take its first steps in delivering a substantial reform program that is intended to change the way Australians engage with government.

"I am excited to make this announcement today, as Services Australia will bring in a new era in customer service, focused on the needs and expectations of all Australians dealing with government," he said.

"Whether Australians are accessing government services digitally, in person or over the phone, in the future I want Services Australia to deliver a similar experience to what Australians are used to when dealing with everyday services, such as banking and shopping."

See also: The Australian government and the loose definition of IT projects 'working well'

That reform includes the appointment of Martin Hoffman, who will be charged with developing a strategic plan to deliver said reform.

Hoffman was most recently the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation secretary, and was previously with the Commonwealth Department of Industry and Science and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. He's also been on the NBN board, was the CEO of media brand NineMSN, and also the CEO of Loop Mobile.

Over the next six weeks, Hoffman and his team will develop a "comprehensive strategic plan" to deliver on the government's service delivery reform.

"He brings a wealth of experience to the role, including an extensive understanding of Service NSW's customer-centric design, as well as a strong background in successful delivery of customer-focused services,' Robert said.

As part of swallowing the Department of Human Services, Services Australia assumes responsibility for the design, development, delivery, co-ordination, and monitoring of government services, social security, child support, students, families, aged care and health programs, and Australian Hearing Services.

It also takes on whole-of-government service delivery policy; whole-of-government information and communications technology; and information and communications technology procurement policy and services, which was a function held previously by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.


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