WA’s auditor-general Colin Murphy has sent the state government a timely reminder of just how much ground it has to make up in terms of digital service delivery, just days after the state unveiled its first whole-of-government IT strategy,
WA “lags behind best practice” when it comes to electronic services, Murphy's review of online transactions in government has found [pdf].
He laid the blame on “the absence of any strong centralised leadership, policy input or oversight” within the state government when it comes to digital matters.
“Agencies have generally not seen the move to online delivery as a priority despite increasing customer demand and available efficiencies,” the report stated.
The state’s Labor opposition took the criticism one step further.
“Colin Barnett is the Commodore 64 of the computer world,” shadow ICT Minister Kate Doust said of the premier.
“And the scary thing is, he probably doesn’t even get that joke.”
Murphy and his team at the state’s audit office have spent recent months assessing the online presence offered by the Department of Commerce, the Department of Training and Workforce Development, Landgate, and government-owned energy provider Synergy.
They complained that many transactions that can be done online - at a lower cost - in other states, still require paper forms, telephone calls and shopfront visits in the west.
For example, Western Australians need to post in a form and pay $47 for a new birth certificate, and post in a form and pay $36 for a replacement drivers licence.
Both applications can be done online in Victoria, and the auditor-general said it’s probably no coincidence they are also much cheaper in that state ($31 and $22.60 respectively).
The team found that WA offered eight of the 12 most common government services online, but usability often left customers wanting.
“DTWD’s main website resembles a departmental notice board cluttered with announcements and links that are likely to confuse visitors,” the report stated.
When the testers tried to report a vehicle theft wit the WA Police website, it came up against “links leading nowhere”.
The WA’s central online service aggregator ‘Do it Online’ “is a jumbled noticeboard-style page with no clear focus or intuitive navigation,” the audit found.
“Its reliance on its parent site’s unfiltered general search function makes finding online services unreliable and time consuming.”
Meanwhile, one of the better performing agencies, mining and land titling information authority Landgate, claims to have saved $12 million in staffing costs in the last year alone after it introduced an online registration system.
The auditor-general did, however, express some confidence that the establishment of the new Office of the Government CIO would restore momentum to electronic service delivery in the state.
The WA IT strategy, released earlier this week, aims to see 75 percent of all government transactions being completed online by 2020.