Digitising the public service – IPAA Breakfast with Paul Shetler

[Originally published on the Australian Government Public Sector Innovation Network under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY AU licence]

Think big – but start small, iterate wildly and deliver quickly.

That was my takeaway from hearing Paul Shetler, the new CEO of Digital Transformation Office (DTO) speak at a great IPAA Breakfast event.

Paul has recently been appointed as CEO and he noted that the DTO is now officially 28 days old. Paul gave us an over view of why the DTO is here, what it is aiming to do, how it will get there, and how it will work.

Some of the key points Paul covered included:

  • People are online and companies are providing online experiences that match clear user needs and aim to meet those needs as quickly as possible. Government has to keep pace with that
  • At the moment the user experience of government is a lot of fragmented information in a lot of different places with different navigation and styles. The only consistency across the sites is that they are all different. This requires the user to keep a map of government in their heads
  • The online experience is not good enough, and often drives people to call centres or other channels for accessing/clarifying government services. The role of the public service is to serve the public, yet we are failing at that. We must do better
  • We need to think of ourselves as government, not as separate agencies, services or channels
  • Firms aren’t the only organisations at risk of disintermediation – government organisations are at risk too
  • The mantra of the DTO is ‘simpler, clearer, faster and more humane’
  • There is immense opportunity for the public service. All of the things that used to hold IT delivery back (such as cost and availability) have changed. Technology is now abundant
  • The DTO will make the most of the opportunity by:
    • Putting the users first – asking ‘does the user need this?’, and ‘how can we deliver this for the user in the best way?’
    • Think big, start small – whatever we do has to be responsive to what we learn, and we need to start with humility and empathy, because we don’t know everything
    • Deliver quickly – long-term projects are not transformative, they are a continuation of the status quo. Delivery helps cut-through
    • Iterate wildly – just do it. Get out there quickly, learn from users, and deliver it
    • Products not projects – if we think about the work as projects, we can see responses and feedback as problems rather than as insights
    • Look at building a minimum viable product
  • The DTO is looking to work with makers and doers to deliver world class government services
  • The DTO will work in multidisciplinary and agile teams – the unit of delivery is the team
  • The DTO works in the open – it believes in open source, and recognises that many of the problems faced are common across countries and jurisdictions, so we should share
  • The DTO is part of a global movement – with similar or comparable initiatives in the UK, USA, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel, Estonia and others
  • The DTO is doing it with you, not to you – it will work with departments (and users).

Paul encouraged anyone who wants to get involved to engage with the DTO at https://www.dto.gov.au/engage.

I found the address very interesting and look forward to seeing what the DTO delivers.

A big thank you goes to Andrew Power for sharing his graphic recording of the event.