Openly accessible data is the new Holy Grail to many government departments across the globe, but collating information from a variety of different sources, putting it together into something meaningful and then displaying it coherently is where the biggest challenge lies.
At the beginning of the month, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) announced it’s new standard for reporting via the Performance Dashboard in an effort to create a place where huge data sets from different government departments can be accessed. The DTA states:
“Until now there has been no single place you could go to find out how government services are performing, or how well those services are meeting users’ needs.”
It’s not easy to scour through multiple government sites for one kernel of information, when other nations including Singapore and the UK have their data readily available for all and any to access. The goal of digital government is to transition from being open to eventually being smart, by maintaining and sustaining digital transformation so that is remains fluid and agile. The Performance Dashboard, in conjunction with gov.au, is a first and important step to achieving agile, digital service delivery.
According to the DTA, “every government service that is transformed will have its own Service Dashboard on the Performance Dashboard”.
People will be able to measure the service against the 4 key performance indicators; user satisfaction, digital take-up, completion rates and cost per transaction. These are the KPIs that have been set out by the DTA so that public sector organisation can measure their digital services against industry benchmarks.
But that isn’t all Australia’s first open data dashboard can do. The Performance Dashboard will bring Australia into a new level of transparency and accountability. This post will look at what Open Government Data is and where it will take Australia once the Performance Dashboard is running it’s full pace.
The demand for transparency and accountability
Open government is a governing doctrine that stems as far back as the European Enlightenment. It is the idea that government should be open to public scrutiny, and to uphold this, citizens should have a right to access documents, proceedings and data to encourage effective debate. Open Government Data promotes transparency and accountability by opening huge quantities of data and information up to everyone. The UK is ranked as the most open government in the world, ranking 1st in the Open Data Barometer, with the US, Sweden, France and New Zealand following closely behind.
As a result of such success from across the globe, expectations for transparent and open, citizen friendly services are increasingly moving up the ladder of importance. The information that is being collected every minute, every hour and every day, has given governments a smorgasbord of state, local and federal data that needs to be consolidated and made sense of.
Australia is working hard to utilise open data more effectively, and with the creation of the Performance Dashboard and new policy developments such as
QLDs $400,000 funding announcement into open data, we’re well on the way to a more transparent form of government.
During the announcement of the Performance Dashboard, the DTA stated “we want to be open and we want to drive the continuous improvement of our services. This can only be done through real service performance data and reporting.”
It has the capabilities to either update in real-time or monthly, according to the amount of data that is publicly available, and it agencies will have their own dashboards for individual services. This will be great to monitor new services, where they are going, and it will help other agencies emulate the success of others, while also avoiding the inefficient services of others.
The value of the dashboard will rely solely on the quality of the data that flows through it, and that takes us to where Australia is moving with the announcement of the new Performance Dashboard.
Where open data will take Australia
Paul Shetler, former CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency, has been incredibly busy in his new role to transform many of Australia’s archaic processes to more efficient forms that connect with the digital world.
Shetler states that this is definitely a journey Australia couldn’t have taken alone: “It’s been a busy 12 months. It hasn’t always been easy. It’s also important to remember that we aren’t doing this alone. We’re working in partnership with departments and agencies across government to get there.”
Although the facts and figures currently available are minimal, the Performance Dashboard will eventually visualise many of the data sets that are consolidated and displayed through gov.au and later through cloud.gov.au.
But as with any major change, it’s important to look at this transition as an evolution rather than revolution. Modelling new delivery hubs off international services takes time and partnerships to build.
The real magic will happen when the Performance Dashboard is in full swing and individual service dashboards begin to provide a holistic view on end-to-end user experiences. In time, the dashboard should make it possible to continuously improve service delivery as more and more information is collected into the platform, while also making government performance data easier to find and utilise.
All Australian citizens and people across the globe will be able to see how services are performing, and this will spur on the continual improvement and the fine-tuning of services. This will drive change and eventually create a more agile and smart government.