Digitising Government Interactions Could Save Australians One Work Day Per Year

by Jennifer Mulveny

posted on 10-02-2019

Time has always been a precious resource and we are increasingly placing more of a premium on it than anything else, including income.

Our recent research with Deloitte – Rethinking The Digital Dividend – explored the amount of time Australians spend interacting with government agencies. The findings show that every Australian could save a full working day per year if governments made sufficient improvements to existing digital services. What’s more, the study found that public servants are now prioritising service delivery over cost savings.

In 2018, three major government agencies – the Commonwealth Department of Human Services, the Australian Taxation Office and Service NSW – conducted 205 million transactions by phone, in-person or by mail. On average, phone calls last an average of 15 minutes including wait time, in-person transactions take an average of 15 minutes of wait time plus the actual service time, and completing forms to send by mail take an estimated 13 minutes plus time for printing and mailing.

Implementing digital services to replace these processes would save each adult 7.9 hours a year, or the equivalent of approximately one working day. It would also improve the way in which governments deliver those services and contribute to greater satisfaction among public sector employees.

One example of time saving is providing customers with pre-populated forms using information they have already submitted to government in prior transactions. That way there is no need to provide duplicate information to agencies.

Studies show that citizens are increasingly comfortable sharing their data securely with government and this level of confidence will only increase with better experiences. In fact, Adobe research found that governments can engender far more public trust with improved services.

Citizen trust in the Australian Government declined from 49 to 42 per cent between 2015 and 2019. Putting people first and letting them drive their own government experiences could have a significant impact on this trust factor. Compliance also increases with better experiences, such as being incentivised to pay taxes or other fees on time.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello recently made the case for improving digital services when he shared his experience of the process following the loss of a loved one. Currently, it can require someone filling out up to 16 paper forms, taking an average of 4-5 hours to complete.

Applying digital forms and signatures could seriously lessen the time taken for such functions and this is achievable. Adobe recently implemented a paperless environment for the Government of Hawaii, reducing paper use by 24,000 pages a day and saving taxpayers an estimated $US5 million over two-and-a-half years.

The Australian Government’s creation of Services Australia underlines its ambition to create a paperless, world-class digital government by 2025. There is also a big push for a “citizen first” approach, which is at the heart of Adobe’s public sector business philosophy.

Government goals aside, at Adobe we believe it’s not just technology that will markedly save time and money and reduce the operational headaches associated with government services. In government, more than perhaps any other sector, leadership, culture and genuine investment in people is absolutely essential.

There needs to be a citizen-centric mindset throughout every level of government so that positive digital experiences become the norm, not an unexpected surprise.

From the ministers responsible for overseeing these engagements right down to the customer service representative that fields phone calls and in-person requests for services, Government employees need to be empowered to identify how each and every agency can better service taxpayers.

Giving people the equivalent of a full-day holiday by improving digital services is a great start.

How could digitising government interactions improve the citizen experience for Australians? Find out from the latest report by Adobe and Deloitte – Rethinking the Digital Dividend. Read the report now.

Topics: Trends & Research, APAC