Like all provinces, Nova Scotia is grappling with transforming the way it provides services to citizens. And like most, it has realized it is poorly configured for the task.
Silos still persist, multiple departments still require and track the same information, and data sharing remains a challenge. The result, especially for business customers, is a lot of what Natasha Clarke, director of service integration at Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, calls “busy” work – filling out multiple forms.
“We need to change how we do things,” she told the Adobe Government Assembly forum in Ottawa last week, saying that government cannot expect citizens or businesses to understand government processes.
Together with Gary Robitaille, director of information technology for the same department, they presented a case study on the work the province has been doing to develop a client-centric, single point of entry for business services, critical at a time when governments are focused on the economy. Too often, they acknowledged, businesses are forced to invest time and effort in forms, rather than creating jobs.
The province, a tourist destination for millions, recently launched a pilot project for people opening a restaurant or inn, streamlining the requisite forms and garnering interest from Canada Revenue Agency and Industry Canada.
And in December, it initiated a soft launch of Access to Business Services, a portal that has successfully integrated over 60 permits and licenses. Over 14,000 businesses have registered since the launch and more than $400,000 in savings has been realized in the first few months.
The experience has provided some key lessons as they move forward, including the need for improved identity and access management across all three levels of government, continued executive level support, strong strategic relationships at the level of Treasury Board and the CIO community, cross-government collaboration and, most importantly, public engagement.
Understanding the user experience “has been a big shift for us,” Clarke said, adding that government would look to industry for help with that. “That change management piece is huge.”
The silos still exist within the government of Nova Scotia and duplication remains a problem, but their success with recent pilots projects has pointed the way forward.
Together with Adobe, Canadian Government Executive has begun assembling tools to help with a range of IT and other challenges in our Digital Library. From whitepapers to case studies and special reports, you’ll find the first of a growing achieve of resources.