Building the future of government service delivery: week 1 at Lab+

The Lab+ work is being led by the Service Innovation Team in the Department of Internal Affairs. It is part of the Better Public Services Result 10 agenda, which is focused on making the digital interactions with government far easier for citizens.

TL;DR — we are experimenting with a new model for government services based on the idea of government information, services and rules being available as APIs, enabling citizen needs to be served through a diverse ecosystem of public and private sector service providers. In short, "government as a platform". Follow this blog to stay informed and drop in to our Friday Open Lab meetups to hear more (starting next week!). We will be blogging regularly over the coming 10 weeks and would love to hear your thoughts on our progress.

What does the future of government service delivery look like?

New technologies, methods and business models have emerged in the last decade that governments have, with a few notable exceptions, been slow to adopt. Citizen expectations have changed, as have the ways we want to interact with government, from web to mobile, and augmented reality just around the corner. The technology sector recognised a decade ago the need, value and strategic opportunity in taking a modular, API driven approach to their services, resulting in successful platform strategies from companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and many more.

Where does this leave government? The ability for individual agencies to deliver a comprehensive citizen experience is naturally limited to the scope of individual agency responsibilities (and budgets!). Yet citizens increasingly expect their government experience to be seamless and easy, with the complexity of government hidden away. So how do we genuinely improve the citizen experience, taking these system limitations into account? We believe it is a combination of two key ideas.

Firstly, user-centred design, which is about putting the user at the centre of the design for the service, to better meet their actual needs.

Secondly, a "government as a platform" strategy, which is about using APIs and common capabilities to avoid the historic siloed approach to delivering services while enabling a competitive ecosystem of services and products. We are starting a 10-week project to explore this approach to integrated services.

We have pulled together a specialised and passionate team based in the new Service Innovation Lab, collaborating with private and public sector partners and drawing on previous work and experiences. The plan is to map the user needs, pain points, and the entire suite of information and services, including private and public sector, that new students use when entering or re-entering tertiary education. This will inform the design of a future state prototype for government service delivery as well as deliver the first iteration of the service. This provides both an immediate improvement to the citizen experience and a roadmap for further development.

The future state prototype also becomes a model for all service delivery, so we will test some big ideas including:

  • federated services
  • making government data, content, transaction services and business rules available as APIs for reuse — government as a platform
  • verifiable claims - where you don't need to share personal information to verify that you meet a condition, such as means testing or proof of age
  • user consent driven services, automation and actions
  • multi-channel service provision by private and public sector.

What's next?

This blog post is just the first in a series of regular posts over the coming months. You'll be hearing from different members of our team each week on our progress, insights, designs, research and mockups for your interest, feedback and critique. We are pretty excited about the work and look forward to hearing your thoughts. We will let you know next week more about the Open Lab Fridays!

Cheers,
Pia Waugh, Lead Cat Herder
Lab+ Team

10 comments

  1. Comment #1. Berlinda:

    WOW Pia – thanks for taking time to share the update. It is exciting to see this work come to this stage and would definitely appreciate the big ideas your team and you will be testing out. Maybe catch you at one of the Open Lab Fridays soon!

  2. Comment #2. Simon:

    I hope the APIs will make string use of OData

  3. Comment #3. Martin Burton:

    Your plan has an end-user role of either a previous or new tertiary student. I’m unclear as to whether the end-user can also be an overseas citizen. The verifiable claims and other aspects will be interesting.

  4. Comment #4. Dee Warring:

    Hi as this project is focusing on tertiary education, I would be keen to write a story on it, both for our website (audience is tertiary education organisations) and for our staff, as the TEC is focused on improving both how we interact with our customers (and being more customer focused) but also using our rich data that we pull into our warehouse from many govt agencies to provide more insights into tertiary education. I will look out for future blogs and pull something together. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks Dee

  5. Comment #5. Angela:

    Hi Pia – keen to be involved in the work and thinking here at an early stage ( to consider broader implications). What time / dates are your open lab meet ups?

    thanks
    Angela
    Police Mobile Innovation Lab

  6. Comment #6. Pia Waugh

    Thanks so much for the support Angela. The Open Lab meetups will likely start next week, we’ll post details on this blog hopefully monday, so please stay tuned! Worst case, we start next Friday 🙂

    Cheers,
    Pia Waugh
    Lab+ team lead

  7. Comment #7. Pia Waugh

    Thanks Dee, we are looking forward to chatting to you and certainly want to leverage everything that has come before, to complement and provide some new value for everyone, whilst focusing on our integrated services experiment. Please stay in touch and let’s chat.

    Cheers,
    Pia Waugh
    Lab+ team lead

  8. Comment #8. Pia Waugh

    Thanks for that, and yes the user could be any type of user. We are aware of the scope of this life event being quite different to different people, with a realistic life long approach taken by some in the sector. We are likely limiting our scope to entering some form of tertiary education and then leaving (graduating or dropping out) for the purpose of exploring integrated services.

    Cheers,
    Pia Waugh
    Lab+ team lead

  9. Comment #9. Pia Waugh

    Thanks for that 🙂 Any APIs we would make would comply with the quite excellent API guide from govt and note that the sorts of APIs that could be created, or identified as being needed to be created, will naturally span data, content, transaction systems and rules, so there are many types of APIs. We will use and promote open standards and we care about developer empathy as part of our thinking up front. But the amount of APIs we make in the first stage of this work will be minimal whilst we explore the future state model.

    Cheers,
    Pia Waugh
    Lab+ team lead

  10. Comment #10. Pia Waugh

    Thanks heaps! See you then! It is very exciting work 🙂

    Cheers,
    Pia Waugh
    Lab+ team lead

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