Consolidating customer-centric government information

Success for public sector staff and agencies means being more customer-centred in their thinking and in the way they communicate with the public. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is working now to figure out how government websites can best contribute to that success.

Drivers

In a speech to senior public servants earlier this year, Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English said:

The shift in public services to organisation around the customer, rather than by government department, will last for your professional lifetime … the public expects results, and results that are relevant to them.

Ministers are serious about getting better results for customers by continually improving public services. They require public sector chief executives to prioritise the things that matter to New Zealanders rather than the performance of individual agencies. The requirement is codified in the 2012 changes in the State Sector and Public Finance Reform Bill, and measured through the Better Public Services Programme. Digital content is an essential channel for this initiative.

Research

So DIA looked into how government agencies organise service information and transactions across more 550 government websites (and growing). We wanted to figure out if it was worth reducing the number of sites and removing the duplication of content: would this make it easier for people to deal with government?

The Web Consolidation Strategic Assessment found that the proliferation of government websites was confusing for customers and inefficient for agencies. DIA recommended agencies adopt more collaborative modes of creating content. So the question now is: what’s the best way to do that? Is it practicable for agencies to collaborate to create content that makes it easier for customers to find, understand and use information across government websites?

C3GI

There’s one way to find out. C3GI — Consolidating Customer-Centric Government Information — is coordinating the first attempt to test the idea. It is working with agencies to:

  • develop content for older people, and the ‘Birth of a Child’ life event
  • improve user journeys across agency sites, using analytics and other data sources to identify what’s not working
  • investigate further opportunities.

C3GI is funded by the Better Public Services Seed Fund and overseen by the Service Innovation Working Group, which is part of the Government Chief Information Officer’s Partnership Framework.

What’s next

Working with Govt.nz, the C3GI team will devise and test processes, systems and standards for developing and maintaining cross-agency content. The results will inform any plans for future optimisation and consolidation of the government web domain.

In the next few months, we will work with the Ministry of Social Development and its partner agencies on the first tranche of content for older people. We will also report back to the Service Innovation Working Group on the initial findings from our analysis on the user journeys across agency sites.

As things progress, you’ll hear more about what C3GI is learning. If you have any questions, please let me know: Tom.Shanley@dia.govt.nz.

4 comments

  1. Comment #1. Paul Murray:

    Tom – This is excellent. I hope this is just the start.

  2. Comment #2. Tom Shanley

    Thanks Paul – that’s our hope too. We now need to learn from these early C3GI initiatives on how best to do this, including how to help agencies deliver what they need and support our goals for Result 10, and of course creating a really good experience for New Zealanders.

  3. Comment #3. Karen:

    Are you talking to the teams behind https://www.gov.uk/ ?

    It’s described in a newsletter I subscribe to like this: “Leave it to the UK to make a mildly boring but really great website in terms of content. It is actually prized as one of the best sources for solid, foundational design principles and great source material. We are certainly fans of the first principle, which should be familiar to any user centered designer out there: Start with needs*”.

    Great to see the principles provided on the site: https://www.gov.uk/design-principles#first

  4. Comment #4. Tom Shanley

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for your question, and you’re right to highlight the work that the Government Digital Service (GDS) have a done in developing GOV.UK, and being so open with what they have learnt from the work.

    We speak to and learn a great deal from the people in the GDS (as well as people from other countries/jurisdictions, such as Canada, Ontario province, Australia, South Australia state, US, Belgium), which was valuable when developing the Web Consolidation Strategic Assessment and for the subsequent planning for C3GI.

    We learnt a lot about how the UK government approached the development of GOV.UK, and the establishment of GDS, and how the GDS team works with agencies to produce content, which included their principles for design.

    The alpha version Govt.nz site was based on the GOV.UK Ruby on Rails source code before it moved to the Common Web Platform. This blog post will give you some more information on how we reused the GOV.UK code: https://webtoolkit.govt.nz/blog/2013/11/what-we-copied/

    Cheers
    Tom

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