WA lags behind on digital services, warns audit report


The Western Australian government is lagging behind on the delivery of digital services, including on-line and mobile channels, warns a new report by the Auditor-General, Colin Murphy. 

Western Australia is lagging behind best-practice in making government services available and easy to use online, warns a new report released by the Auditor-General, William Murphy. This report acknowledges that on-line access delivers significant savings. However, some opportunities for efficiencies are being missed. The administration needs to prioritise the online delivery of services.

The latest audit examines trends at five agencies. Some progress is acknowledged, but there is significant opportunity to move more services online. Three agencies tracked in the report expect to save at least $38 million from moving key services online in the next 2 years. But many services remain paper-based, according to Murphy. This is despite growing customer demand and the technology being available to move them online.

Murphy said the auditor also looked at a government site and the Do it online portal. The portal does not list all services, is not user friendly and does not compare well with sites in Australia and internationally. “The absence of any strong centralised leadership, policy input or oversight is a probable cause of this situation and what has been achieved is the result of proactive agencies.”

The report makes several recommendations for agencies to consider in planning and delivering services online. It also proposes that the Government Chief Information Officer, Giles Nunis, provide centralised leadership and improve the effectiveness of a dedicated site  for services.

More specifically, without centralised leadership, agencies do not view online delivery as a priority. This is despite increasing customer demand and available efficiencies. “The appointment of a Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) in July 2015 should help to address this, and speed progress.”

The five sampled agencies reported some progress. “But all have significant opportunities to move more services online,” the report says. Many services that could be delivered online remain paper-based, and require manual processes. Common errands like applying for a birth certificate can be done online in other states. But these remain paper-based for Western Australia.

Among the concerns, agencies see various barriers to moving services online. These include the cost of changing systems, resistance to change from staff, uncertainty about legislative requirements, and the needs of specific customer groups. Moreover, poor analysis around moving services online has left agencies without the requisite information to make well-informed decisions.

Track WA’s digital roadmap as highlighted by the Minister for Innovation, Bill Marmion.