Why NSW won't build a whole-of-gov website

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Why NSW won't build a whole-of-gov website

Avoiding the fate of the DTA’s gov.au.

If you ask the NSW government’s chief information and digital officer, a single whole-of-government website - the likes of which was recently canned at the federal level - is “yesterday’s paradigm”.

It’s for this reason - along with several examples of similar efforts going awry - that the state government has made the deliberate decision not to go down that path.

You might think a whole-of-government website would make sense for a state that has the oft-proclaimed goal of conducting 70 percent of all transactions digitally by 2019.

But Damon Rees says the current manner in which people find and consume information indicates the navigation of traditional websites is a “very outdated paradigm”.

“There’s plenty of examples where [a whole-of-gov website] been attempted and failed, and wasted an inordinate amount of money,” the NSW CIDO told today’s Australian Government Cloud Summit in Sydney.

The NSW government is undoubtedly keen to avoid the fate that befell the Digital Transformation Agency’s vision for a single whole-of-government website.

The gov.au project was dumped by the federal government in January this year after departments refused to come on board. It was instead replaced with a plan to transform the Commonwealth’s existing transactional websites while trimming their number.

“I think when we do eventually step into ‘how do we make it much easier to get answers to your questions’, the answer is going to be something very different to a whole-of-government website," Rees said.

Instead his team is working to create a whole-of-government experience around "select" functions, such as feedback forms and data visualisation.

The NSW government is currently rolling out its ‘Feedback Assist’ platform, which provides a uniform experience for users to deliver complaints and compliments to government. The mechanism will exist on every NSW government digital asset.

It will shift the responsibility for ensuring feedback gets to the right place from user to government, Rees says.

“We’ve said ‘we want you to be able to provide us with your feedback as easily as possible. We don’t want you to have to worry about who to make the complaint to. Just give us the complaint, and it’s our job to get it in front of the best person to solve it,’” Rees said.

Similarly the state’s ‘data ecosystem’ initiative - to be delivered through a whole-of-government data and visualisation tool - will allow both the public service and citizens to examine patterns and trends in service delivery, like emergency department wait times.

This single data visualisation tool - which the government is currently in market for - will replace numerous similar technologies used across the state at the moment.

“This data ecosystem is a customer centric experience that gives customers one place to go to consume information from NSW government, without needing to navigate the internal complexities of our organisation to know where to find it,” Rees said.

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