MANY PEOPLE, including myself, choose to work in politics and the public sector because they want to make a better world. They want to effect change that benefits humankind. But the word ‘government’ nowadays often invokes a negative image in people’s minds.
The world is more reliant on digital interactions than ever before, but sometimes those interactions feel clinical, inhumane or are simply unhelpful. As the gap between people’s expectations and government’s ability to meet them grows, our current systems of government need to change radically.
4m citizens are currently using the Australian Tax Office Community
8.5m posts viewed to seek answers to tax and COVID-related queries
A radically different approach
Historically, governments’ position of power and access to information gave them authority and influence. That was yesterday’s model. Search engines are now the information source for over 70% of the world. Peer voices today are more powerful than the opinion of traditional authority figures.
Acknowledging this, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) embarked on an experiment called ‘ATO Community’, an online peer-to-peer forum where citizens can ask questions and anyone can answer them. The forum provides a unique experience for people, giving them the opportunity to ask for help or advice in an anonymous way, promoting an open and honest dialog. It represents a strong and genuine partnership with government, Australian businesses, industry professionals and citizens.
In February 2020 a collaboration with ATO and Deloitte Digital was established to accelerate improvements and define the product strategy, using a Human-Centred Design approach. As COVID-19 began impacting Australians, ATO Community proved to be a critical digital channel for providing people with tailored support to help them through these difficult times. Over four million citizens used ATO Community, viewing around 8.5 million posts to find answers to their tax and COVID-19 questions.
A new mindset for designing government services
This new service proves how it is possible to rethink and reshape government from the outside, and to transform the public sector to put people at its heart. It demonstrates a mature and altruistic mindset, one that is much needed for designing future public services.
Moving forward, the most successful governments will focus on developing societal solutions from outside government rather than trying to solve problems themselves. By embracing new and creative models of servicing people, the government can learn to see risk as opportunity and create value rapidly by collaborating externally, as well as delivering internally.
Published 01 May 2021