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The Lab+ work is being led by the Service Innovation Team in the Department of Internal Affairs. It is part of the Better Public Services Result 10 agenda, which is focused on making the digital interactions with government far easier for citizens.

TL;DR — we are experimenting with a new model for government services based on the idea of government information, services and rules being available as APIs, enabling citizen needs to be served through a diverse ecosystem of public and private sector service providers. In short, "government as a platform". Follow this blog to stay informed and drop in to our Friday Open Lab meetups to hear more (starting next week!). We will be blogging regularly over the coming 10 weeks and would love to hear your thoughts on our progress.

What does the future of government service delivery look like?

New technologies, methods and business models have emerged in the last decade that governments have, with a few notable exceptions, been slow to adopt. Citizen expectations have changed, as have the ways we want to interact with government, from web to mobile, and augmented reality just around the corner. The technology sector recognised a decade ago the need, value and strategic opportunity in taking a modular, API driven approach to their services, resulting in successful platform strategies from companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and many more.

Where does this leave government? The ability for individual agencies to deliver a comprehensive citizen experience is naturally limited to the scope of individual agency responsibilities (and budgets!). Yet citizens increasingly expect their government experience to be seamless and easy, with the complexity of government hidden away. So how do we genuinely improve the citizen experience, taking these system limitations into account? We believe it is a combination of two key ideas.

Firstly, user-centred design, which is about putting the user at the centre of the design for the service, to better meet their actual needs.

Secondly, a "government as a platform" strategy, which is about using APIs and common capabilities to avoid the historic siloed approach to delivering services while enabling a competitive ecosystem of services and products. We are starting a 10-week project to explore this approach to integrated services.

We have pulled together a specialised and passionate team based in the new Service Innovation Lab, collaborating with private and public sector partners and drawing on previous work and experiences. The plan is to map the user needs, pain points, and the entire suite of information and services, including private and public sector, that new students use when entering or re-entering tertiary education. This will inform the design of a future state prototype for government service delivery as well as deliver the first iteration of the service. This provides both an immediate improvement to the citizen experience and a roadmap for further development.

The future state prototype also becomes a model for all service delivery, so we will test some big ideas including:

  • federated services
  • making government data, content, transaction services and business rules available as APIs for reuse — government as a platform
  • verifiable claims - where you don't need to share personal information to verify that you meet a condition, such as means testing or proof of age
  • user consent driven services, automation and actions
  • multi-channel service provision by private and public sector.

What's next?

This blog post is just the first in a series of regular posts over the coming months. You'll be hearing from different members of our team each week on our progress, insights, designs, research and mockups for your interest, feedback and critique. We are pretty excited about the work and look forward to hearing your thoughts. We will let you know next week more about the Open Lab Fridays!

Cheers, Pia Waugh, Lead Cat Herder Lab+ Team

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