31 Mar The Digital Transformation Office’s success will depend more on the T part than the D part
Yesterday, leading Australian tech journalist, Renai LeMay published a piece entitled The Inside Track: How the DTO’s Gov.AU project is coming unstuck. While I often like what Renai has to say on matters relating to the Australian tech sector, I’m not sure he’s entirely on track here.
What I feel Renai has skipped over here is exactly what people like me and Craig Thomler have written about extensively over the years, and that Craig has addressed at length in his latest piece on the same GOV.AU alpha; that it’s not the digital part that’s at issue — it’s transformation, and in particular, transformation of culture and practices.
I’m not sure that the alpha of GOV.AU should be seen as indicative of the DTO’s success overall. They’ve employed or engaged some of my industry’s (service design and user experience) best minds in this country. The model they’re using (and releasing publicly) is robust and workable, and when projects in agencies use the model and bother to do so properly, there’s definite progress to be made, if not outright success.
Now, having worked in and around the public sector for around 25 years, I’ve been witness to a lot of ingrained resistance to change, especially in middle layers, and in spite of the fact that the vast majority of public sector workers actually want to do great work and deliver real value to the public.
The success of the DTO (and the D part of that is almost a side issue, because this is about organisational and people transformation, and not just digital services) will depend on generational and cultural change in public sector agencies, and a willingness to shift the way things are done. So, too, it will depend on a transformation of the way the public engage with government services. And that’s a problem that’s yet to be solved, but that can definitely be addressed by good service design and engagement with real people who will use a service during the process of building it.