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Within the Service Innovation work program at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), we have a range of service initiatives where we work collaboratively with other agencies, organisations and companies in our Lab to design, prototype and build better public services. This helps us identify user needs without a specific agency or government view, as well as identify reusable components that could support multiple services (in public and private sectors).

In September our team kicked off a three-week discovery sprint exploring how subsidies are provided to New Zealanders and what this could that look like in the future, with a focus on Rates Rebates. Rates Rebates are an entitlement that has been identified as a key pain point for applicants (low income property owners for primary residences), as well as for Local and Central Government.

This blog post is the final report from that discovery and will form the basis for any future work or Minimum Viable Product (MVP) development in Alpha. You can browse the entire report as HTML or PDF 968KB, and a high level summary is below. Please find Rates Rebates related posts from LabPlus here. Our broad work program is outlined here, and we invite you to join our mailing list or follow our blog posts to keep up-to-date, and to visit us if you are in town at our OpenLab events each Friday from 4pm at the Todd Building, 95 Customhouse Quay in Wellington.

The summary of the discovery work is below. The discovery sprint included service designers, user researchers and subject matter experts from the DIA (the Service Innovation team as well as the Rates Rebates team), Auckland Council, Tauranga Council, Wellington City Council, the Ministry for Social Development and the Inland Revenue Department with support from Assurity.

In three weeks the team did user research, comprehensively mapped the user journey and explored how the pain could be reduced for end users, for Councils and for Central Government. Three concepts were developed to address the challenges and tested with end users across the three cities, with some interesting results that will inform next steps. We also looked at what had been done before, and analysed the user research and work done by agencies and Councils. Some work had been done by Central and Local Governments to explore user needs and the government challenges around Rates Rebates however, this had not yet resulted in meaningful prototyping or a tangible solution, so needed further exploration. Our team works to understand and utilise the efforts of previous groups, add value and be a catalyst to a high value solution for the whole Rates Rebates process.

The Rates Rebates Process touches many agencies. We mapped the journey (available here in Google Draw) to see touch points for rebates customers, front stage (agency work visible to the rebate customer), and backstage (agency work not visible to the rebate customer). It showed a very complex picture with pain across users, Councils and Central government agencies. Considering this entitlement is a maximum of $620 per year, it requires a lot of cost and time from all participants in the process to administer.

If your organisation (Councils in particular!) is interested in joining a Rates Rebates Alpha MVP team, likely to start in the new year, please contact us by leaving a comment below.

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