Service Victoria is developing a reusable digital tool that the state’s 79 local councils will eventually be able to use to deliver digital services and transactions to ratepayers.
iTnews can reveal the agency has partnered with one unnamed local council to co-design and pilot the tool, dubbed ‘Council in a Box’, over the next 12 months.
Service Victoria expects the digital tool will become available for additional local governments organisations to consume in the future, if the pilot is successful.
The work is taking place as part of the Victorian government’s regulatory reform initiative, which was funded to the tune of $75 million over four years in the wake of the pandemic.
A Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesperson told iTnews Council in a Box is being developed to “make it easier for individuals and businesses to interact with local government”.
It is expected to bring together “common functions and operations performed across councils, making “management of permits, applications and payments easier for Victorians”.
Service Victoria’s work on the tool for local councils has parallels with a similar effort by consulting giant Deloitte under its 'Deloitte City Services' program.
Deloitte began working with Campbeltown Council in NSW in the 2019-20 financial year to deliver a Salesforce solution that it was positioning for reuse by other councils.
Initial work focused on 30 common council services, including pothole reporting, tree removal and street cleaning, over a nine-month period.
While it is unclear which local council is working with Service Victoria on Council in a Box, another pilot is underway with the City of Casey as part of the regulatory reform program.
The initiative, called ‘Skip the Permit’, is piloting automatic approvals for outdoor fitness trainers in parks, saving fitness trainers seven days in wait times.
Government services minister Danny Pearson told budget estimates earlier this month that the project was an example of the benefits of reuse, without referencing Council in a Box.
“Where we can try and find, test, refine and improve the offering, we can then roll it out,” he said.
“Once you’ve developed the solution once for Casey, the marginal cost roll out across the other 78 councils is relatively minor, yet the benefits are quite significant for the end users.”
Service Victoria received $99.8 million in the 2022 state budget to deliver “new channels for simple and fast interactions with government” over the next two year.
As many as 20 new services are expected to be delivered in 2022-23, with further services expected in 2023-24, according to budget documents.
Service Victoria has witnessed a six-fold increase in its engineering team since the pandemic, giving it greater clout to deliver digital services.