How digital technologies are changing public service delivery

How digital technologies are changing public service delivery

The Australian Government - along with many other governments worldwide - has recognised this imperative and made the digitalisation of public service delivery a top priority for 2015.

In this blog, we will look at the driving factors behind the digital transformation in the public sector – and share 5 inspiring examples from switched-on governments around the globe.

Driving factor 1: cost savings

There’s no doubt that a key driver in the digitalisation of service delivery is finance: the steady realisation that tight government budgets are here to stay has given departments a renewed focus on doing more with less.

In Australia alone, the differences in cost per transaction are striking: On average a face-to-face transaction between government department and citizen costs $16.90, as compared to an online transaction which costs just 40 cents.

Despite this, of the estimated 811 million transactions that occur at the federal and state levels each year, approximately 40% are still completed using traditional channels. Recent reports estimate that if this figure could be reduced to 20%, the government could save $17.9 billion over a ten-year period, and citizens could save $8.7 billion.

Driving factor 2: citizen expectations

As a country’s citizens embrace digital and experience greater ease and convenience in their day-to-day lives, it’s no surprise that they expect to be able to interact with government on similar terms.

When you look at the connectivity levels of Australian citizens (see figure below), it’s no wonder the government is under increasing pressure to up its game.


Driving factor 3: citizen benefits

Of course, the practical benefits of engaging digitally with government agencies are numerous: from a reduction in travel and waiting time, to transport and postage costs, to the convenience of extended opening hours and the ability to connect from just about anywhere.

Digital service delivery also offers more visibility and more opportunity for the public to engage and collaborate with government: which delivers the deeper benefits of engagement, transparency and trust.

Let’s look at some great examples of digitalised service delivery from state and federal governments around the world:

Example One: self-service benefits website and app, Texas, USA

The Texan population is on the up. In fact, forecasts show it increasing as much as 20% by 2020. To manage the boom, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) developed a folio of self-service digital options, including a website,, and a Your Texas Benefits mobile app.

The website, launched in 2010, enables clients to apply, renew and report changes to their benefits: any time and any place. Clients can upload documents, choose paperless correspondence and sign up for text or email alerts.

The mobile app debuted in late 2014, with features such as checking benefit status, uploading documents and finding a local office.

Now in 2015, self-service is business as usual. On a given month, over 60% of applications for HHSC services come in through the website, and the app has shown even more stellar growth, with document uploads surpassing those of the website in the first six months alone.

Example two: emerging technologies help fight crime, Spain and USA

With 340,000 Twitter followers and almost three million YouTube videos, the National Spanish Police launched the “Tweetredada” program to engage citizens on various issues, including child pornography, domestic violence and drug trafficking. The scheme has been a huge success, with numerous successful convictions as a result.

Similarly, in the US, the Memphis Police Department uses predictive analysis, including weather and school data, to predict where crimes may occur. This helps them ensure officers are in the right spots at the right time. This initiative has resulted in a 23% decline in violent crime and a 26% decline in property-related crime.

Example three: “Tell Us Once” makes life simpler (UK)

Tell Us Once” is a UK pan-government program that enables citizens to report a birth or death to the central government and local authorities in one go, through a single point of contact, rather than having to contact up to 44 different agencies individually.

By 2013, 70% of citizens had opted for the bereavement service and 90% had opted for the birth service. As a result of this initiative, the UK government estimates savings of around £200m ($430m) over the next 10 years.

Example four: SingPass streamlines transactions (Singapore)

Launched in March 2003, SingPass is a single sign-on, password-protected system that provides citizens with convenient access to a broad range of government services.

Prior to SingPass, citizens would have to engage separately with up to 57 different government agencies to access 270 different services.

By 2011, SingPass transactions had increased more than 10 times since its launch—from 4.5 million to 46.3 million, with more than 2.8 million registering for the service.

Example five: Virtual Labour Market makes life easier for jobseekers (Germany)

The Bundesagentur für Arbeit – or Virtual Labour Market – was developed to help reintegrate jobseekers into the German labour market.

The platform comprises an online job portal, an internal system to support employment services, and an online job crawler that collects job vacancies from company websites.

Overall, the VLM has increased transparency and access to the job market considerably. A common centralized database has also made the management of agencies more streamlined and efficient.

The future of service delivery

Citizens have become used to digital interactions that are speedy, personalised, and accessible on any device: and they expect their interactions with government to be the same.


The days of time-consuming, frustrating and impersonal government interactions are drawing to a close. Governments are moving to a more efficient, agile model that is centred around best-in-class customer experience. Where is your department on the journey?


  • Forbes Insights, Digitizing Human Services
  • Google: Our local planet
  • Accenture: Digital Government: Pathways to delivering public services for the future
  • Deloitte: Digital government transformation, 2015