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NSW contemplates smart licenses

Shared services a possibility to power Services NSW

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The Australian State of New South Wales' (NSW’s) new Customer Services Commissioner, Michael Pratt, says one of the streamlined service delivery strategies he is considering could see all NSW licences replaced by a single smart card that records multiple licences the bearer holds. Pratt said he can also foresee licences finding their way into smartphones.

Making that happen, he added, could mean re-alignment of the State's IT operations into something akin to shared services operations.

Speaking yesterday at an Australian Information Industry Association event, Pratt explained that his role is all about streamlining service delivery in NSW by creating a new agency called Services NSW.

The creation of a discrete services delivery agency will, he said, let government agencies focus on policy development instead of splitting their energies between that task and service delivery.

To help that split, Services NSW is working on a first tranche of 210 transactions that will, by June 2013, be available in a new network of 18 shopfronts, from a single call centre or online (either with a PC or mobile device).

Pratt's thinking behind those services is to simplify them as much as possible, making multiple licence cards – one for driving, another for fishing and so on – a no-no as when different government agencies issue their own cards they will almost certainly engage their own suppliers to do so.

Cutting out that kind of duplication with technologies like a single licence card or smartphone implementation, Pratt said, is a prime source of potential savings for government.

Another may be consolidation of IT, a strategy he said “has to be part of the way we think about the future.” While stressing that decisions on State IT are not his remit, Pratt said “as we progressively migrate services part of that will be to make sure we are better set up internally.”

“Better” could mean shared services, Pratt said, inasmuch as once services are consolidated it makes little sense for agencies to operate their IT do drive a service now delivered by a central service delivery agency. That will mean culture change at ministerial level, to stop ministers defending their turf and budgets in favour of a regime that lets specialists deliver services.

“We need to go right back to policy,” Pratt said. “Large organisations … have developed lots of their own applications based on the same product. We need to look at how we put that to work with this whole idea of 'do you know me as a customer, do we have CRM'” to the extent that when two licences fall due, citizens can be offered a single transaction instead of being asked to go through two.

“Today we can't do that,” Pratt said, but “Technology is critical” if it is to come about. ®

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