Quote of the week
“…few of the online services offered to Canadians by departments are client focused.”
— OAG 2013 fall report
Chapter 2 of the Auditor General’s fall 2013 report looks at access to online services. Examining four federal government departments, it concludes that service delivery between them isn’t integrated and that there is no government-wide strategy (or even departmental strategies) on service delivery.
I must admit I am struggling to determine the real import of this study. It focuses on the Internet and web-based services, and while its criticisms seem legitimate, one has to ask: is this where the future of government service delivery lies? Just how relevant is this whole issue when you consider that technology is changing how government works and citizens’ expectations of it?
For sure there needs to be a service strategy; in fact, it’s amazing in today’s day and age that there isn’t one. But a service strategy in 2013 should be focused on meeting the citizen needs and expectations of 2013 and beyond…and those go way beyond the web.
Such a strategy would take into account not just the web but new technologies. It would ask how social media and mobility are changing the expectations of citizens regarding service delivery, and then come up with creative approaches to meet them.
It’s happening. British Columbia, for example, is going beyond the obvious that we have known for fifteen years (and which is noted in the OAG report) that government should make sure online services focus on citizens’ needs rather than departmental structures. In response to the new world of technology, they are launching a BC Services Card with access to all authentication services that the B.C. government offers. Another step is the creation of mobile apps for government services.
That’s looking to a future that’s already here.
One thing the OAG report has right is its focus on each department’s specific service portals. Whatever their failings, the portals are a step in moving away from a one-size-fits all service approach to one that is personalized and aimed at specific groups. One senses, though, that the OAG was unaware of this context in its analysis.
The report is at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/docs/parl_oag_201311_02_e.pdf